Forget everything you’ve seen on television.
Your project will not be finished in 30 minutes.
Remodeling starts with a vision—more space for kids, updated kitchen or bath, moving parents in. For most people, this is the largest amount of money that they will spend at one time in their life.
First, good remodeling is expensive and bad remodeling is very expensive—there are many unqualified folks out there that call themselves remodeling contractors.
Do your homework
Get a professional designer involved—either happen prior to hiring a builder or you can let your builder guide you to the best fit for your job.
A good designer or architect can take your thoughts and put them into a set of documents that allow everyone to be on the same page with pricing and scope of work. Share your projected budget with the design/ build team. Design is critical to the process. If you don't take care of it on the front end, you will pay as you go. Front end design is cheaper.
With a design/ build team in place, here’s what’s next:
If you are planning on living there during construction, these are things you can expect.
Total disruption to life as you know it.
Make sure your builder is accessible because we will wear many hats: Counselor (marriage and financial) part time child care (I have been in hook up lines picking up kids more than once) animal control (you aren't moving the pets out are you?)
Here’s a something else you should know: All projects tend to go over budget and time frame due to the accumulation of smaller items that do not seem important at the time.
How do we pay for the project?
Fixed fee/bid method
The builder will have a specific list consisting of scope of work and all finishes. Any items not listed (either intentionally or by accident) will be revisited you as change orders. Many times these change orders will come with a fee attached to each one.
Cost plus/time and material
The builder will present you with an itemized target budget and scope of work prior to beginning the project. Since remodeling is, by its very nature, a bit of a moving target (there are always surprises in those walls and ceilings) most remodelers have gone this route.
How much money do builders charge?
Well, let me demystify it for you. Fee schedules are usually between 20-30%. Some builders mark up materials and some don't. On larger projects, the fees may be lower.
Billing: most builders will require a down payment at contract signing. Beware of anyone that requires a very large down payment. This could signify cash flow issues or even worse. We usually ask for 10%.
We bill weekly.
While we have you here:
Just because someone is a licensed general contractor doesn't mean they know anything about construction. Be sure to check out your builders time in the industry.
There are really no "screaming deals" out there. We are all paying the same for building materials. The fees of licensed and insured subcontractors are generally comparable. The only part of the money that the builder controls is their profit and overhead column.
This business is very personal and scattered with emotional land mines. Make sure that you and your builder connect on a personal level because you will get to know each other very well.