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-Let’s go over our schedule together. Our time is valuable so let’s make the most of it-
1. Project Scope- Renovations and remodeling have an image of chaos attached to them. I don’t believe that has as much to do with the nature of the work as you’ve been led to believe. Let’s try and organize this process, for both our sakes. A.Identifying changes - With renovation and remodeling, the idea is to make a change. What do you want to do? The answer is often general, and usually accompanied by its own set of questions. Most people don’t know what goes into the scope of their project and don’t know what their options are B.Purpose of changes - So we try to narrow it down by asking what the purpose of the changes should be. Is the end goal to have a robust rental property that gets turned over every five years? To have a showpiece for your personal style? Is this the home you intend to spend the next 20 years in? How do these changes reflect your personal principles? No judgement, we just need to know in order to accurately reflect your vision in our plans.
2. Site Analysis- The purpose of site analysis is to inform the us of the lay of the land so to speak. Some of these might be in excess of the demands of our project and we wouldn’t go through any unnecessary work, time is valuable after all. Some of these might be taken for granted by the homeowner, for instance: home ownership. It is our responsibility to be certain we contract with the actual owner of the property. We will do a quick survey ourselves upon seeing the property. Let’s scan down the list together and see what comes up as pertinent to our individual project.
A. Title and Encumbrances- This is a detail which we can’t afford to take for granted. We always make certain the client owns the property. You never know, and we must check.
B.Historic, HOA, Restrictions, Covenants- Sometimes we would imagine ourselves as islands, and while that may work in some municipal divisions, an equal number of clients live within limits set by organizations which may impede the free flow of changes. It is our duty to assess this risk to your investment before we make any changes. Not every job will require extensive investigation in this department.
C.Boundaries, Easements, Setbacks- Where ownership meets use. When adding to the footprint of a structure, or otherwise changing significantly the coverage of a lot, or shape of a building, these are some of the first questions we look to answer.
D.Existing structures and layout- Every job requires this assessment in some form or another. If we don’t know what we are changing, we can’t know how we are changing. If we are finishing a space inside an existing structure, we need an accurate drawing of the space. If we are altering the building envelope and structure, we need an accurate depiction of the starting point.
E.Watershed, Flooding, and Erosion- Are we disturbing soil? Are we changing the permeability of the lot? Are the changes going to require extra drainage work to avoid damage to property, yours and your abutters?
F.Ground Stability, Benchmark, Contours- Again, this section deals primarily with changes which alter the footprint, additions, decks, added foundation work; or landscape and driveway work. Occasionally, when this step was skipped by a previous contractor, we get to remediate the damage caused by a lack of assessment during the planning phase. In laymen’s terms: if the ground moves, your house will too.
G. Roadway, Staging, Ingress/Egress- Logistics for delivering goods, tools and services to the site. This can be easy, or it can add days to a project. We would rather know beforehand.
-Of course with some projects the site analysis will have to be more detailed than just an initial impression, and paying attention to these details from the start never hurt.-
3.Stakeholder Expectations- Owners, mortgage holders, and any party with an interest in the property should be clear on the expectations they have moving forward with any project. We will work to ensure that the process is treated with as much care as the product. It is critical to the design to know what these expectations are.
4. Responsibility of Design- The design of a project goes deeper than mere visual representation of the outcome. It may be more work than you have imagined, even for something small, like a deck, or a bathroom. How can we get an accurate estimate without a design which encompasses the aforementioned attributes, and looks forward to the implementation of the process, lumber takeoff, specifications of products, procurement times, and task durations? We cannot. The best we can do before design is a very impressive looking ballpark estimate. This is different from a preliminary estimate which is derived from the bid package. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
5. Preliminary Budget- This is how we know if we are ready to move forward into designing our project. If we are in the same wheelhouse budget-wise, and are ready to make that leap, we can begin on the design of the project. In this atmosphere of swindlers and con-men, home -owners have taken to holding their cards close as a form of defense. I’ve got to tell you though, those confidence artists don’t need to ask your budget. They will find out one way or another what they can get from you. A good contractor will work a project into a reasonable budget. A good contractor will want to know up front what he is expected to work with and whether or not working together will be a good fit for the company. It protects everyone we work with from our being distracted by price checkers, allowing us to focus on clients who are committed to working together. If we are seeking figures to base our budget off of, some quick phone calls to both contractors, realtors, and property managers can help us decide what is a reasonable expectation. The tone of these people on the phone can also go a long way in deciding who we want to call for any services in the future.
In This Meeting- So far, we have touched upon the basic points which should be covered in our initial meeting together. We’ve established our desired changes. We’ve identified some early speed bumps in the process. We’ve come to terms with a budget. Most importantly, we’ve taken a look into the process and seen how much work it is just to arrive at a ballpark estimate. Using this protocol for feasibility we should be able to save as much time as possible. Lucky for us, we have plenty left to discuss in the f o l l o w i n g meetings. We hope you’ve enjoyed sitting down with us, and look forward to presenting you with a ballpark estimation of what our project could cost. Please see the next two pages in preparation for our follow up meeting and do your best to answer the questions asked. Thank you for your time!
1. What is your concept? Do you have pictures or renderings?
2. Do you have a designer/architect? Who? Have the drawings and specifications been approved by the building inspector?
3. Who are the stakeholders? This includes yourself, other owners, lien holders, and lending institutions.
4. Have you contacted the appropriate governing agencies? Are you under special jurisdiction such as an HOA or HDC?
5. Do you have a defined preliminary budget? What is your budget?
6. Who is managing your project? The implicit footwork in any buildingor renovation project should include: contract documents, bid package, lien waivers, insurance certificates, submittals, tests, inspections, occupancy and completion certificates, and photo documentation to make certain that the interests of all stakeholders are protected. A well documented renovation/remodel can go a long way to convince a buyer that we aren’t just house flipping.