Monday, May 30, 2011

Why do you need design documents?

Clients sometimes question the need for design and design documents if “they know what they want to do”.    There are several reasons to take the time to properly prepare design documents and not rush to construction.  Some are noted below.

·        Design documents are the main resource for communication between the client and the designer/builder on what is to be built and what materials are to be used.
·        The design documents, along with the construction contract, provide the legal basis for the contract agreement between client and builder.
·        The design documents communicate the decisions made during the design process to the carpenters and other mechanics that will actually do the building. 
·        Design documents are often required by various local authorities who will issue permits and neighborhood associations where neighborhood approval is required
·        Good design adds value to your home.
·        Design, carefully tailored to a client’s taste and lifestyle, makes a one-of-kind, highly customized environment for the client.

Design is a process and takes some time but the advantages of professional design far outweigh the costs.  This presents a great value for the customer, enabling them to have a great finished product that matches their desires.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Meeting with a Contractor

Your first meeting with a remodeling contractor is a time to get your questions answered and see if this contractor is a good match for you.  Typically after your initial inquiry we will schedule a preliminary free consultation at your home.  The usual length is one or two hours.  There are three primary issues we will want to discuss, the goals you are trying to achieve, your timetable, and your budget for the project.  We will do a walk through of your home or the areas to be remodeled and ask a lot of question to try to understand your goals and the scope of the project.  You will probably have many questions for us as well.  After meeting we may be able to provide a preliminary proposal with a budget range, or for more complex projects a design proposal, and information on moving to the next step.  Before making a next step decision you may wish to review the information with us, ask questions, and clarify how best to proceed.  You may also wish to visit our job sites or talk with past clients.  Typically at this point the next step involves a commitment on your part to work with us.  This may either be a design contract, a project development contract, or a construction contract.  Design and construction contracts are fairly straight forward; project development involves providing conceptual drawings, drafting a scope of work or specifications, and more detailed calculation of estimated construction costs.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to "Read" an Estimate

One of the hardest parts of being a professional remodeler is estimating accurately.  Every project is unique, each home individual, every client with different goals, tastes, and budgets.  The profession of remodeling entails so many facets of construction from careful demolition, preservation of existing finishes, framing, products, general construction knowledge, plus knowledge of all the trades including: HVAC, plumbing, electric, roofing, masonry, etc.  The remodeler must be able to evaluate the existing structure for soundness, determine what should stay and what should go, decided how to tie in the renovation to the existing structure, and determine what level of quality will please the client while trying to meet the client’s goals for scope of work, products, and budget.

For “ballpark prices” the remodeler is expected to do all this before there is a working set of drawings, structural engineering analysis, or a thorough walkthrough of the project by the various trades.  Remodelers know that often if they give a ballpark number that is too high they stand a good chance of being eliminated from consideration at the start.  Likewise, if they give a very low number they will either have to be constantly up-selling the client, write numerous change orders, or lose money and go out of business.  None of which properly serves or benefits the client.

As a client it is important to analyze the entire proposal, not just an early price.  An effective approach is to interview, choose a remodeler to work with, establish project goals including scope of work, products, and budget and then work with the remodeler, considering options, to meet your goals as closely as possible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Pick a Home Remodeler

Choosing the correct remodeler for your project can be difficult.  Each remodeling company has its own skill level, specialties, level of professionalism, and method of operation.  It is really up to the homeowner to find a remodeler that shares their vision for the final results.  Following are some steps you may take to find just the right remodeler for your home.

·        Look at the company’s portfolio of complete projects.  Ask how they created solutions to particular remodeling problems.
·        Interview the company salesman or owner, look at the depth and breadth of their expertise, the history of the company, the talent of the staff and tradesmen, their ability to properly produce and execute your project for a reasonable price in an appropriate time frame.  Basically determine if the company is a good fit for you, your family, and your project.
·        Talk with the company about your vision and goals and your budget for the project.  The remodeler may have suggestions to maximize your remodeling dollars while suggesting a scope of work and product selection to meet as many goals as possible.
·        Let the remodeler be creative instead of dictating the direction of the project.  After all they are professional remodelers and work designing projects to make the most of the possibilities.
·        Check references for projects similar in scope and scale to yours.  You may even want to visit completed or in progress projects.  Consider the quality of the work, reliability, meeting the construction schedule, communication skills, etc.  A lot more goes into remodeling projects than obtaining the lowest price.  You may be asked to invest a little more for a remodeler who can deliver the best product and service.

In general become an educated consumer.  Remodeling can be on of the most rewarding decisions you will make.  Make the right choice and your home will be a pleasure for years to come.