So you decided to make this year’s resolution an addition to your home or remodel your office! That is exciting for sure. Here’s a quick reference on how to plan your project. While we don’t cover all aspects or challenges, this guide should help you along with some of the main points in getting your project on the right track.
Early Planning is Critical.
Selecting an architect, finding a contractor, and getting through the building department, take time. It’s vital to jump on these as soon as possible, there aren’t any shortcuts out there. It’s been said, “You can have quality, quantity, or quick service…but you can ONLY PICK ONE”. A rushed design typically means weak drawings, which often leads to costly change orders. A rushed construction project typically means poor installation, which can lead to re-work because the work doesn’t pass inspection. There is absolutely no rushing the Permit, regardless of any information you may have received suggesting otherwise. Allow enough time to be engaged with the architect, so you are 100% aware of what they are designing and know exactly what to expect when it’s built.
Don’t rush construction. A contractor can hire the fast guy that is ready today, or hire the right guy that might take a few more days to come off another project. This is all the more reason to plan early. Make sure you are involved in these conversations about schedule with your contractor. If you are always pounding your fist on the table to work faster…the contractor is going to cut corners. All these things should be written down on a GANTT chart to see how they tabulate over time. For example; Design: 2 months, Permitting: 3 months, Construction: 4 months – That isn’t a schedule of 9 months, that is a schedule of 9 months at the absolute earliest. Add some time in there for contingency because things happen. That should be reflected in your schedule as well. Also, note that some types of construction have seasons, otherwise you pay a huge premium. Concrete (for example) starts near the front of most projects, however, it cannot be poured in cold weather. All of these details you have to consider and expect for your new construction project.
Setting Realistic Budgets.
One of the first things we ask a client at JDC Architecture and Design is what is your budget? A client that bases a commercial remodel budget on their neighbor's basement remodel, which they completed 10 years ago, is certainly heading for project overruns. Costs are constantly increasing with inflation. So if you base a cost per square foot on a similar project 2 years ago, well that CSF just went up 6% (let's say 3% per year) with inflation. And if your project will start construction in a year, then you need to account for another 3% anticipating the price rise. There is a big difference between construction costs and project costs. Construction costs are generally tossed around when you are asking about components of your project; for example, flooring is roughly $7 PSF, framing can be $25 PSF, and, concrete is generally $15 PSF, etc. Add all of those up and you have a construction budget, but keep in mind that general conditions (porta potty, temperature power, supervision, hauling, taxes, etc…) can be another 13% to 20% more depending on who is bidding the work. You will also have to consider design (which can be 10%-15%), permitting (another 3%), utilities, testing, and insurance. When I tell people that this typically adds up to another 35% to 50%, they typically go into denial. Carefully research this.
You Will Get What You Pay For.
Every project requires a certain amount of design and engineering to make sure you have a good set of plans to build from. Every project requires a certain amount of management to make sure everyone is getting paid, and there’s no one getting too far behind. Every project requires a certain amount of communication to ensure permits are getting done, products are getting ordered, shop drawings are getting reviewed, and inspections are getting called for. If you have hired the cheapest architect or the cheapest builder there’s a good chance they’ve had to cut some of this out to be affordable.
We empower you to educate yourself about the various facets of the design and construction process. Being a partner in your project alongside your builder and designer can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences.