Excited, Challenged, Overwhelmed, Uncertain and Apprehensive all at the same time?
These are all normal emotional thoughts every new client has, You are not alone!
As your general contractor we will help you alleviate these emotions and bring you to a sustaining positive level of confidence. You will be able to make well though out decisions throughout the entire process. We initially see these mixed emotions with every new client, some clients hide it better than others but these emotions are there regardless the client’s affect. We will stabilize the emotional roller coaster and gain your confidence through communications, transparency, attention to detail and our many decades of working with clients.
Our official proposal will unravel the complexities of your project far beyond the experience you had with your architect. Our proposal will provide detail for your assessment and allow for adjustments within your budget.
Common Client Questions
How much will it cost?
You can not figure out the cost to build by watching a program on television or searching the Internet.
There are too many variables to consider that are not explained online or on a television program. The only realistic way to obtain an actual cost to build your project on your land is by working with a general contractor.
Searching the Internet for costing information is an act of futility.
The cost to any construction activity is a product of the material & local labor expense. Geographical economics vary greatly from state to state, city to city as does the availability of tradesmen and suppliers.
There Is No Silver Bullet To Pricing A Custom Project
Project costing requires a general contractor, skilled knowledgeable tradesmen and experienced suppliers.
One quarter of a project proposal is sending plans to suppliers and tradesmen the remaining three quarters of a proposal is where a seasoned general contractor makes all the difference.
- Knowledge of how to present project documents to tradesmen and suppliers.
- A solid understanding of trade specific questions to ask when presenting construction documents.
- Industry knowledge to answer tradesmen and supplier questions.
- An encompassing knowledge of how contractors think, operate and how they run their businesses.
- Practical Application Experience
After submitting plans and trade specific estimate directives a general contractor’s effort to collect comprehensive quotes requires continued consistent communication.
If left to tradesmen and suppliers your plan will gradually drop in urgency, one of the jobs of a general contractor is to keep your projects hierarchy at the top of the tradesman’s schedule. The typical tradesman physically works on projects, after an eight to ten hour day the last thing they are motivated to do is come home and work on a new plan estimate. This is a primary reason why it takes so much time to compile a complete proposal.
The general contractor reviews tradesman quotes checking for thoroughness and verifies directives were followed as submitted. When quotes are not accurate, we send them back with a revised set of directives and additional pressure heightening urgency to make corrections and resubmit without delay. When quotes are returned for corrections and updates the time to complete our proposal can be extended.
Interpreting estimates and quotes takes more than looking at the total. As our proposal is assembled, we review each quote once again, rereading every line of every quote assuring we incorporate all inclusions and exclusions.
Formatting a proposal is not a plug in scenario, each proposal is crafted specifically to a project. There are similarities with every job but every job has unique detail that needs to be included in a user friendly structure. In a format that can be readily searched.
Actuarial Tables Are Not Accurate Costing Custom Projects!
(Attempting to use these software programs for custom projects put an owner at financial risk)
Construction Estimating tools (Costing Software) that provide pricing based on national mean are good in theory but they are not accurate unless your building a cookie cutter home in a tract development. You are on our website which means your not building a tract home.
Packaged estimating cost tables/software is not dynamic from day to day, week to week or month to month, in our view actuarial tables lag behind real-time approximately eight to ten years. Over a thirty year time span we have compared locally sourced costing with estimating programs. In every case the variance between current day local costs and costing tables were drastically different.
Area modifiers for specific geographical locations are also behind, they do not account for individual site conditions and they are not up to date regarding transportation costs for tradesmen or material suppliers.
When Can You Start?
Answer – As soon as you are ready!
We can start quoting your project as soon as you have Finalized Construction Documents.
What is your schedule?
Answer – We can Start anytime of the year!
Our schedule is fluid, We can start your project as soon as its ready to go. Before we can physically get started we need to get your permits
What is Net Zero?
Answer – Net Zero is the balance between energy consumption and energy production.
There are many aspects to obtaining Net Zero. The more energy your structure uses, the more energy you or your family use the more energy you need to produce to be at net zero.
If you are looking to own a net zero structure we highly recommend working with one of our architects that specialize in the practice of designing Net Zero.
Net Zero is a basic concept, nearly all architects will all say they understand net zero theory, not all architects can accomplish net zero status in practice.
Your energy production is equal to your usage.
What Is “Sustainable Design”?
Sustainable Design – (You’ve probably heard the term used, good chance it was in an unclear context)
“A balanced approach your architect implements throughout the development of your plan”.
Basic Considerations of Sustainable Design:
- Energy and Water Consumption
- Repetitive Maintenance Costs
- Impact on Environment
- Development of High Performance Concepts
- Consideration For Increases In Future Economic Valuation
There are varying levels of sustainable design – Sustainable minded architects understand the complexities involving this style of design have varying levels of cost and recognize with every client there are varying levels of achievement based on budget constraints.
Compromise – is a way to increase your level of sustainable implementation; Scaling down the scope of work is a reasonable option; Reducing the overall square feet of your project can lower the cost to construct and increase your level of sustainable considerations.
“Green Building” a term commonly used to describe Sustainable Design”
Adding Solar – Does Not Make a Project Green.
Geothermal Heating & Cooling – Does Not Make Your Project Green.
Adding these individual components does make your project “GREENER” than not adding them but it only scratches the surface in the “Green Building” realm.
“Sustainable Designed Projects are Green Building Projects”. Your architect can certify the your level of green without engaging in established “LEEDS” program.
General Public “LEEDS” Understanding
Most people have heard the acronym “LEEDS” thanks to their marketing efforts, but most people have no true understanding of the LEEDS program or levels of the program. The average conception is that by achieving a LEEDS certification somehow means they are doing their part to save the plant. We don’t argue this but we know you can “do your part” without “LEEDS as long as you have the right architect.
Eventually most people will recognize while working with their architect there is an economic threshold limiting the level of green, if your on a tight budget you should understand “LEEDS” adds to the budget strain.
The LEEDS program certification is not overly important to us as a general contractor, what is important to us is Sustainable Design.
We “Build Green”/”Sustainable” with or without LEEDS.
Resale Value & LEEDS
Its is not abundantly clear how much more people are willing to pay for a LEEDS certified product -vs- a product that is green built without LEEDS certification. The majority of practicing realtors have no clear understanding of LEEDS, as a result they don’t push certified homes over non certified.
Regardless of your interest in achieving certifications we are always interested in ‘Building Green” – If your budget does not allow you to follow an established program such as LEEDS, we are confident our architects can design your structure as green as your budget allows. If your budget allows for and your focused on achieving a LEEDS certification we are happy to assist.
Some green is good, more green is better. Determining your level of green is completely up to you, your architect and your budget.
Discuss “Green Building”/”Sustainable Design” with your architect!
Locating A Good Architect?
We work with accomplished architects. We can recommend an architect to fit your project. We primarily work with architects that focus on sustainable design with an ultimate goal of net zero. Not all clients will select a completely net zero structure because of budget constraints but it is worth interviewing seasoned professionals and discussing options.
Finding an architect with good vision, great concepts and one that shares your interests should not be a difficult task. We can assist.
Once you have established your budget, the next step is to work out with your architect what you can build.
- Be upfront with your budgetary constraints.
- Be conservative with the size and the appointments of your design, bigger doesn’t equate to being better – professionally thought out is better !
- Listen to the advise of your architect when it comes to staying within your budget.
Don’t add unnecessary volume, focus on the efficiency of your structure. The operating cost of your structure should always be at the forefront of design aspects, the cost to run your structure is for life. We can guarantee energy costs will continue to increase.
Consider, renewable resources, LED lighting, Solar PV, Geothermal (ground source heating and cooling), heat pump hot water heaters. Yes the upfront cost is more but if you compromise just a little your budget may very well allow you to include these options.
We commonly implement two primary renewable resource technologies. Both of these systems will pay for themselves and both have the potential for paying you back as time passes.
Solar – (Click on solar to see a solar PV costing example)
Photovoltaics (or Solar PV) – Uses the sun to produce electricity that can run your home.
Geothermal – (Click on geothermal to see a costing example)
Ground sourced heating and cooling uses the natural heat of the earth to produce both heating and cooling for your home.
YES, in many cases we implement equipment that requires fossil fuels.
Barbecue grills, fireplaces, cook tops, furnaces and boilers.
We do prefer geothermal for heating and cooling but if an owner cannot justify installing geothermal, we understand and we will install a gas furnace or boiler.
Securing A Construction Loan?
With every project we encourage clients to work with financial institutions we know to be construction loan friendly.
We work with bank loans on many job, we know how the process is supposed to work and we know which banks have good working relationships with general contractors.
Working with proven construction friendly banks can solve potential unforeseen issues.
Past clients have said ” We are going to use our bank, we’ve been banking with them for years”. (or) Our friend used “Bank X” for their construction loan and recommended we use them.
Banks who step you through the qualification process only to have their underwriting department come back and tell you “We need an additional 50K, 60K, 70K etc…to initiate the loan” could be wasting your time.
Bank 3rd party processing and disbursement services – May not be clear when establishing your construction loan. These fees may be rolled into the “Loan Fees” category with no clear breakdown of what this category covers.
a. a. Does the financial institution you have selected charge an additional fee for processing draws, inspecting the project and/or disbursing funds? Pending the amount of your loan, 3rd party services can be expensive.
If a bank is not equipped to handle the draw process in house, you could be paying fees that other banks include as part of their value added services.
b. Ask for a breakdown of the “Loan Fees” so you clearly know what you are paying for. You may choose to pay bank fees outside of the loan instrument. Why pay interest on Fees?
c. Typical Closing Costs Fees – “Loan Fees” “Title Fees”, “Escrow Fees”, “Inspections Fees”, “Appraisal Fees”
Understanding Your Appraisal?
Appraisals can be inaccurate – We have seen appraisals come in low because they were rushed or recognition was not considered for individual aspects of a project. An inaccurate appraisal can greatly change your risk position with a bank providing the bank with a vehicle to change the terms of your loan. Examples: More money down, interest rate changes.
Did your appraisal accurately assess your property value?
Did you receive credits for your efficiency protocol (Sustainable Building Valuation)?
- Solar Photovoltaic Arrays
- Geothermal (Ground source heating and cooling)
- “Warmboard” (floor heating system)
- High Insulation (greater than code minimums)
- Windows (High Efficiency)
If your project is a Sustainable type project, you need to make sure the appraiser is certified. Demand to see their credentials.
Have they passed the “Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional Development Program”?
Are the comparable structures used as comps reasonable? Are they similarly featured?
Sometimes it can be difficult to locate comps in your neighborhood that are similar to what you are proposing to build, especially on custom homes or homes equipped with High Efficiency or Alternative products such as “Warmboard”, Geothermal, High Insulation Values, High Efficient Windows and Solar.
Appraiser Language – What’s the reality? Here is a snippet from a recent appraisal received that best explains why you need to read and understand your appraisal.
“The builder provided a cost: “X”, is deemed the most reliable method to determine cost vs. using a national data service; however that alternative cost approach is provided. Recognized cost exceeds sales approach; there are many subject upgrades that may or may not be fully recognized in this market area; limited date to currently support.” Is already in the cost section of the report. AS noted; the subject currently has many items that possibly may not be recognized fully in this market, based on limited comparables available; i.e., such as the elevator, solar panels, GEO Thermal heating plus FWA, double thick exterior walls with extra insulation, etc. Thus, the cost to create this home may exceed its resale and/or appraised value?
This is the language of an appraiser that has not completed the “Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional Development Program”. This Appraisal company was not qualified to take the job but they did anyway. The bank was oblivious to the “Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional Development Program” yet they claim to be a construction lender.
When we questioned the validity of the appraisal with the bank, they said. “That’s one of the companies we have in the appraisal pool, there is nothing we can do about it.” The bank was completely intransigent to our inquiry and refused to even look into the suggestion the appraisal company was not qualified to appraise this project.
Absolutely no consideration for the items listed made it on the appraisal because this company did not know what to do, how to find out the costs of these items and negated any value for each individual component. They didn’t even list the ERV “Energy Recovery Ventilation System” on the appraisal. All of these items were clearly spelled out in our proposal documents including make and model numbers. To give you an idea of our proposal, this respective proposal was sixty pages including 45 pages clearly spelling out detail for every item including manufacturers, series and models.
This appraisal included costing from a national data service that is irrelevant to construction locally but they still used this inaccurate information to reduce the value of the project. We realize the national data service has area modifiers but adding these modifiers are still not relevant to geographical area. The data used largely varies from real-time data we collect from our contractors and suppliers.
Though this appraisal was not accurate and did not consider the entire costs the project owner still was charged for the appraisal. The bank was not interested in having the appraisal redone by a “Valuation of Sustainable Buildings Professional.” This was a complete disservice to our client by their chosen lender.
The bank was incurious when we engage them with explanation for the items they did not credit or value. The basic position was, this is how we do it, we don’t care what you have to say.