Helpful Hints & Resources
Sound advice for any building project:
- Patience is the quality you have to have more than any other. You may experience some surprises – that is just the nature of the business – but the true professionals at KALIN CONSTRUCTION will always help you work through them.
- Remodeling is really a series of problems that have to be solved. Ultimately that is what the customer is paying for, the contractor’s ability to spot those problems, communicate them to his subs as well as the owners, and then the ability to address them quickly and affordably.
Before your project begins:
- When designing the home, the architectural fees can run up to 7% of the overall cost of the project, depending on the drawing.
- The more complete the blueprints you provide to the contractor, the smoother things will run throughout the project.
- Get at least three written bids. DON’T always choose the lowest bidder – almost all complaints to the DA’s office are contractors with very low bids. You get what you pay for is especially true in construction projects.
- Your project is not a fixed commodity. Even if you have different contractors bid on your remodeling project, chances are their finished products will be very different. Unless you have a definite set of specifications for all to bid on, you won’t really be comparing apples to apples.
- Have a survey of your site done by a civil engineer. The survey generally should include not only the property’s legal description (known in the trade as the “metes and bounds”), but also the presence or absence of utilities such as gas, water, electricity and sewage. It should also show rights-of-way, reserves or utility easements that might prevent you from building on certain parts of your property.
- Price per square foot varies for projects, but generally, prepare to pay $210 per square foot as a starting point (allowing for regional differences).
- There are two ways contractor remodelers approach the cost of projects. First is the traditional “fixed cost” approach. The second approach is “cost plus”, where the remodeler charges for the actual cost of materials and labor, plus a markup for overhead and profit. An initial estimate is still provided, so clients have a sense of what a project will cost, but the actual cost is determined as the project progresses. A “cost plus” contract gives the customer greater control and greater responsibility.
- Always check the references of your contractors and architects. If possible, go to a previous job of theirs and bring a critical eye.
- Don’t try to be your own general contractor. You will run into situations that will require an expert in the field of construction and construction management to resolve, either with the subcontractors or with products or job sequencing.
- If at all possible, enlist the help of a designer. They help with the ordering and scheduling of your fixtures and accessories. This gives you a single point of contact for late delivery and damaged goods. Their cost should be estimated into your overall budget for the job.
- Never sacrifice value and quality for more space. You will regret this down the line. You will end up with a more desirable finished product if you build smaller and smarter. The “starter castles” that we have become accustomed to lack the very essence of what we all want in a home–charm and warmth.
- Suggested reading: Creating the Not So Big House, by Sarah Susanka.
Your construction contract details:
- Never pay a deposit without a contract in place. A 5-10% deposit on large projects should be sufficient, where 15-25% might be requested for smaller jobs as the start-up costs (e.g. material purchases) are a larger percentage of the project. Be aware if anything more is requested–it should be taken as a warning sign.
- In the “Construction Contract,” completion clauses can be added for homeowners who must move out during the remodeling process. This agreed upon completion date ensures that the homeowners can recoup some of their costs if they end up paying additional rent because their project is not on schedule. If you decide to utilize a completion clause, you should also include a similar time-triggered incentive.
- Somewhere in the “Construction Contract,” you should also account for unexpected extras or changes that you request. These are a consistent source of friction between homeowners and contractors, often because the price is not clearly communicated up front. Your contract should stipulate that if a change is required or requested, the nature and cost of the modification must be noted in writing before the work is done.
- The “Construction Contract” should require the contractor to warranty his work and materials (for a specified time period) and provide the manufacturer’s warranties for materials and appliances installed in the home.
Once your project begins:
- Good planning now saves time and money once the project begins. The clearer you are about your wants and needs, the better the remodeler will be able to meet them. Now is the time to get educated about product. Go out and visit the showrooms of different suppliers, whether it’s kitchens, appliances, tile or a combination.
- Some contractors have subcontractors and suppliers that they must pay during the project, so prompt payment of contractor invoices during the project is a routine request and always appreciated.
- Avoid any major design changes after the project has started. It throws the subcontractors off their schedule resulting in lengthy delays and increased prices.
- Plan for change orders, but realize they add cost to the project. Anticipate an additional 5-15% if you start to deviate from the original plans.
- If at all possible, vacate the house during the project. Try to coordinate a vacation during the busiest part of the project, especially the parts that involve demolition, floor refinishing and drywall work.
- Anticipate delays that may affect your schedule. Unforeseen factors with ordering, shipping and manufacturing processes can change a tightly scheduled project.
- Yes, there will be dust! But after it settles, the focus will soon be on your wonderful finished construction project, which will only increase the enjoyment of your home.
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