Not many people understand how difficult and complicated it is to remodel their home until they are faced with an overwhelming number of design decisions and conflicting advice. Because no two projects are ever exactly the same, there isn’t a single, clear-cut formula to use to figure out what to do and how much it will cost.
You have probably heard of someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who had plans drawn up for a remodeling project. They were surprised when the estimates came back that were double their budget. People in this position typically do one of three things:
- Ask for a re-design, wasting time, money and a lot of energy that went into the original
- Seek out ‘cheaper’ bids, only to find out later that the other bid really wasn’t cheaper.
- Nothing-they never do the project.
A better way is to design a project that meets a budget in the first place! Here is how we do it:
What follows is a description of how we have broken down the process into several phases. The description is intended to introduce these steps so you have an idea what to expect during the design phase of your project. Depending on the size and scope of your project, we will sometimes include additional steps.
I. INITIAL CONSULTATION
Fee: There is no charge for the initial consultation.
Time Frame: About an hour, typically scheduled during regular business hours.
This is the stage where you decide what you want to actually build and define the budget you have available for the project. The general objective of the project and the primary goals are established. To prepare for the Initial Consultation, make a prioritized list of things you want and label them from most to least important, prior to our first meeting. Sometimes the budget you establish (this means you should know how much money you want to invest in your home and project) is not enough to cover everything you want to include, and having this list will make it easier to decide what can be left out (or done later) to bring the project closer to or inside the budget.
Establishing a budget is an essential element in the success of a design and build remodeling system. Our goal is to design a creative project that is in alignment with your budget that solves the problems you are having with your home.
Let’s get a better idea of what the term ‘budget’ means in the remodel project context. The money you have designated will need to pay for the design and planning of the project (which may include consultants such as engineers, surveyors, energy consultants, etc.), permit fees (which may include municipal fees, connection charges, etc.), and the actual costs of the construction. We will help you plan for all the costs involved, not just the design and construction.
The first step is a critical step as everything done after this will be based on the information established now. Be frank about what you want and be prepared to explore new ideas.
The next step is to enter into a Design Agreement. This is where we start to develop the design and budget together, making sure we are staying within the budget while we explore lots of creative design ideas.
The Design Agreement is a paid agreement in which we are paid for our professional services to design your project and develop the detailed scope of work and give you a guaranteed lump sum cost for the work-within your budget!
II. DESIGN AGREEMENT
Fee: The fee for producing the blueprints, for processing your permit, for assisting with making all selections, for providing a final scope of work and fixed price and schedule, for pre-planning the entire project is typically 5 – 8% of the final cost of the project.
A. Design Consultation
At the first Design meeting our Design staff and Remodel Consultant team meets with you to discuss your project with three things in mind:
- Design program: What are the problems to be solved, how are you dissatisfied with your home? We will discuss issues raised at the initial consultation.
- Aesthetics: What is your personal style? What types of finishes do you have in mind? Look at www.Houzz.com.
- Measure and Photograph: We measure and photograph the areas of the home we will be working on. Having a set of existing plans can be very helpful!
After measuring, the Design Team examines, documents and researches the existing conditions of the home. This includes drawing the existing house floor plan, documenting its structure, and researching the local Building Codes and Zoning Restrictions to establish what legal limitations are imposed upon the property. Before any design work is done, it is only logical to establish what the current records show and what changes the local ordinances will permit you to make.
We then generate and, during subsequent meetings, present preliminary floor plans and design ideas. We may schedule a trades-party in your home, inviting the plumber, electrician and heating trades contractors to analyze your home systems and make recommendations. We want to eliminate as many ‘surprises’ as we can by investigating the existing conditions now rather than after construction has begun. This is the best opportunity to shape the direction of the design elements and re-prioritize, if necessary, in order to meet the budget.
It is during this stage of the design that changes or alterations to the proposed scheme are easiest to accommodate. Take the time to make sure you understand everything presented and that you are satisfied with the design. If more than one design scheme is presented, select the one you like the best, or suggest alterations to the scheme you like. It is common for the initial sketches to be modified several times before the plan meets your final approval.
When we have arrived at a concept that best balances the three elements, (design scheme, aesthetics and budget), we will be ready to move into the second phase – Design Development.
B. Design Development to Construction
Design Development is the stage in the design when the preliminary rough sketches that have been approved by you are refined and developed. The plans are further refined as the interior and exterior elevations and section drawings are created and detailed. Cabinetry is designed, finishes and materials are selected. If we have not done so already, the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems are reviewed at this time.
This is the stage of the process where the initial design schematics come to life. You will meet with the Design Team throughout this process, which can take several weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the project and how quickly decisions are made.
During design development we:
- Create construction drawings. A complete set of blueprints are critically important in order for all parties to understand visually what is to be changed and added, to obtain a building permit, and to eventually build your project. The plans will include all drawings required for regulatory approval, as well as details for elements such as built-in cabinetry, architectural features, electrical-lighting design, door, window and finish schedules, tile layouts, etc. We will work with outside consultants if structural engineering, energy compliance or other specialties are required.
- Make product and finish selections. There are many choices to be made, so we provide information on how and where to select products such as cabinetry, light and plumbing fixtures, flooring, tile, and accessories. We will assist you in making selections by joining you in your shopping excursions and making suggestions. These decisions are be made as early in the development process as possible in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the production schedule, budget adjustments, and confusion after construction has begun.
- Make Green Building Decisions. We will guide you in deciding what types of environmentally friendly products and systems will be a good fit for your project. We are committed to conserve natural resources, save energy and improve the indoor air quality for you and your family!
- Provide value engineering. We will provide ideas to reduce costs by investigating alternate building methods, changes in product selections, etc.
- Produce accurate and final cost estimate. Once all of the documentation is completed, specifications and selections made, and the proposals from trade contractors are returned and reviewed, a final cost for the construction will be determined. We also develop a construction schedule that will determine the overall amount of time your project will take.
- Write the detailed scope of work. An accurate written description of all the specifications and work to be performed during your project will be presented to you in the form of a proposal with a lump sum fixed price for all the work. The detailed proposal includes all trade contractor work, our crew’s labor and supervision, materials, finishes and products that will make up your project. Attention to every detail during the estimating process assures us (and you) that we will deliver your project without numerous “surprises” and unwanted additional work orders.
- Generate the Construction Agreement. The Construction Agreement is a fixed price contract based on the written scope of work, selections that have been made and any identified allowances. The only changes made, after that point, are those generated by you or by unforeseeable conditions. No one likes additional work orders, however, if you want to make a change, we will give you a cost to make the change before we do any added work.
- Facilitate the permit process. We will handle all submittals to the appropriate planning department on your behalf.
When the design and estimating process is complete and a contract is signed, we will transition the project to our production department, assembling all the project data into field binders. We will schedule a pre-construction conference with the Project Manager who will be responsible for supervising and coordinating your project. During this meeting we will discuss the remodeling process with you, as well as ways we can minimize disruptions to your family’s lifestyle. Before construction can begin, long lead items are ordered and Purchase Orders are sent out to the Trade Contractors selected for your project.
You will receive a Client Resource Guide in which you can store all the important documents relating to your project: the contract, additional work orders, progress billings, etc. There is use and care information for your finishes, emergency contact phone numbers and helpful information about how to prepare for remodeling.
During construction, one of our project managers will be in charge of your project. He will be monitoring the job every day to make sure the work is done safely, with the quality and spirit that we are well known for. The Project Manager is your first line of communication and he will handle all aspects of the work. There will be a site meeting with the Client and the Project Manager regularly to discuss progress and any decisions that need to be made. You can expect to receive a weekly update every Friday from your Project Manager. The update will re-cap the week and let you know plans for the next week.
Once construction is nearly complete, we will schedule a walk through with you, making a detailed list of remaining tasks. Our job is not done until every item is completed and you are satisfied with the results.
IV. POST CONSTRUCTION
Once we have finalized your project, we provide you with a close out package, which includes warranty information on all appliances and products, a list of all the finishes and materials that went into the project, a CD containing photos of your open walls showing the location of plumbing and electrical wiring, and a list of all the material suppliers used in your project. We provide a generous 4/10-year warranty on all labor and materials provided by us or by our trade contractors. There is a ten year warranty on any items that can’t be seen, i.e. roof leaks. (Factory made items carries their own warranty.)
This package of materials will be delivered about a month after your project is completed. In addition, you will be contacted by the owner, Jeff Talmadge. Jeff likes to meet with each client and receive feedback on the team’s performance. We are always trying to improve our operation and your honest feedback will help us immensely.
We will be here for years to come, even after the warranty has expired, to make sure you continue to be happy with your remodeling project and to assist you with future projects.