adding on

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Old 03-11-05, 04:44 PM
kbutterfly
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adding on

Hello to all who can help. I was looking to put an addition on my parents home where my family and I are currently living. I was wondering where the heck do I begin? What are the steps to take to have a smooth experience?
 
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Old 03-11-05, 08:42 PM
L
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First, you develop in your mind what you want. "An addition" can be as simple as 50 sq. ft. for a bathroom, or a couple thousand sq. ft.!! Then you draw it, (no matter how crude the drawings!!) so that a contractor can look at it and see what you have in mind.

No offense, but based on your question, I'm pretty sure that building "an addition" is beyond you. Hire a contractor. Get several bids. Even if you just have the contractor put up the shell and you finish whatever parts you are comfortable finishing, that may work.
 
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Old 03-12-05, 10:59 PM
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kbutterfly,

I think you are wanting more substance here and Lefty is providing good advice. Sometimes a simple sketch is sufficient for an idea of cost but nothing is firm without a good set of drawings for pricing out the project and submittal for a building permit. The key is to establish a budget that you feel is workable. Whomever you talk to will ask, be prepared to tell them. This is not a time to have a secret and waste everyones time, including your own. This may be long so bear with me.

I wrote this awhile back and it should help you understand some issues that you will need to address. Even though this may seem more directed at new homes, it is the same for additions, large or small or even renovations.

First off, I want to stress that I am not suggesting that you hire an architect or designer for your project but understand the reasons for them. There are good general contractors out there that can provide similar services but I want to give caution in what to avoid.

Design-Build firms, the words, are a good marketing tool used to describe firms that can take you from the design process through the completion of the construction. Sounds good doesn’t it? The intent is to provide the One-Stop shopping. The concept of this was to avoid seeing an architect/designer – paying a fee, and then seeking a contractor out. In today’s world of fast pace and no time, even when this was already practiced by many, it seems a logical choice. The idea was less hassle, no worries and to some, the costs would be considered less. This has its hidden drawback and I want you to understand what it all means to you as a client.

I do not want this opinion to be taken wrong nor do I want to debate with those that offer such services as they can be very good and not all Design-Build firms are the same. For what I am providing here, let’s establish some facts and some methods used.

If you seek a Design-Build firm, you have just locked yourself into a relationship that is difficult to get out of.

1. They go into all the detail about who they are, reputation, associations they belong to and all the projects they have done which inspire your confidence. Good, Right?
2. You usually pay a lower rate for having them design your project than through an architectural firm or designer. Good, right?
3. They will say “if we build this for you, we will deduct the fee from the construction contract.” Good, right?
4. They will ask many questions, what is your budget, what are you looking for and all the other information needed to design your project. It makes you feel that they are listening to all your answers. Good, right?

You sign on the bottom line, you read it briefly and then you get your final drawings after reviewing a couple designs with minimal changes. They look great, they have all the information on them and then they present you with the Proposal. You quickly go down to the numbers with dollar signs. You bypassed all the stuff they want you to look at and to your surprise; it is OVER your Budget. You question why, they tell you that YOU wanted this and that, which all adds to the cost. They knew you were going over budget but they are interested in building it, not financing it! You’re shocked and leave saying you have to think about this. You have one set of plans in hand, now what?

After much time contemplating what to do, you think it’s time to get other quotes. Wrong! The contract you signed is for the original firm to build it. You cannot use the drawings you have as they sold you the “services” in which to have them drawn, not the license (permission) to use them. This is where the major drawback comes into play.

You have a choice,

1. Proceed with the plans that you have in your hand and allow them to build it at the price you were quoted.

2. Have the plans redone, downsized if you will, all at an additional fee so you can present this to your banker for the loan. The problem being that you are still stuck with them building it.

3. Hire a designer/architect to drawn new plans, not duplicating them. They would go through what I describe below. If duplication was done, it would be a copyright violation and it is enforceable. Once done, you “own” the plans and can submit them out for bid, with no restrictions. Best option is present these to at least 3 General Contractors for bid. They can provide a total cost and then you determine which one would be best for you. Seeking the lowest bid is not always a wise choice.


“Should you hire an Architect or Designer for your project?

Few people realize how complicated it is to build... that is until they find themselves lost in the maze of design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike, so there is no single, clear-cut path to follow.
The architect/designer is the one professional who has the education, training, experience, and vision to guide you through the entire design and construction process, from helping you define what you want to build to helping you get the most for your construction dollar.
Whether you are remodeling, adding on, or building from scratch, the architect/designer can guide the way. Working with contractors and other construction professionals, architect/designers can help you end up with a well-designed project that meets your needs and works with your budget and time frame

One important note...the fees charged for these services varies by who you hire. Their services are invaluable. The experience and knowledge they possess to assist you in attaining your goals is what you are paying for. This is usually a fraction of the projected total cost of your project. Trying to do this yourself, unless you have skills to do so, will turn into a nightmare that could have been avoided.

6 BASIC STEPS TOWARDS BUILDING A HOME/ADDING ON

1. DECIDING WHAT TO BUILD

This first stage, called programming, is probably the most valuable time you will spend with your architect/designer. It is at this time you discuss the requirements for your building: how many rooms, what function the structure will have, who will use it and how. It is also the time when you begin to test the fit between what you want, what you need, and what you can spend.
Don't come in with solutions already decided upon. Be prepared to explore new and creative ideas. Be very frank about how you want the end result to feel and work. The architect/designer/designer will ask you lots of questions to get a better sense of your goals and needs and to determine if your expectations match your budget. The architect/designer may suggest changes based upon knowledge, experience, and your budget. After thoroughly discussing your functional requirements, the architect/designer will prepare a statement outlining the scope of your project. During the next step, your program will be realized.

2. ROUGH SKETCHES (2D DRAWINGS - FLOOR LAYOUTS/ELEVATIONS)

Once you have defined what is to be built, the architect/designer will then do a series of rough sketches, known as schematic designs. These sketches will show you the general arrangement of rooms and of the site. If you have difficulty understanding the sketches (many people do), ask the architect/designer to explain. Depending on the project, some architect/designers will also make models of the design to help better visualize it. These sketches are not "finished" construction documents. They are meant to show possible approaches for you to consider. The architect/designer will refine and revise the sketches until a solution is developed that you agree meets the needs of your project. At this point, the architect/designer will also give you a rough preliminary estimate of construction cost. Remember, there are still many more details to be established about your project and that this cost estimate is very general. It is hard to predict market conditions, the availability of materials, and other unforeseen situations that could drive up costs. Therefore, this figure must include a healthy contingency to cover cost changes that arise as the design matures. Don't panic if these first sketches seem different from what you first envisioned. Ask your architect/designer how these designs satisfy the requirements you discussed in the first stage. It is vital that you and your architect/designer are clear about what you want and what the architect/designer intends to design. It is much easier to make changes now when your project is on paper, than later on when foundations have been poured and walls erected. Before proceeding to the next phase, the architect/designer will ask for your approval of these sketches.

3. REDEFINING THE DESIGN

This step, called design development, is when the architect/designer prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the proposed design. The floor plans show all the rooms in the correct size and shape. Outline specifications are prepared listing the major materials and room finishes.
When looking at these drawings, try to imagine yourself actually using the spaces. Ask yourself: Do the traffic patterns flow well? Does each space serve the intended purpose? Do I have a good sense of what it will look like? Do I like how it looks? Do I agree with the selection of wall and ceiling finishes, door types, windows, etc.?
Based on these drawings, the architect/designer will prepare a more detained estimate, though final costs will actually depend on market conditions. Review every element with your architect/designer to make sure you are getting the most out of your construction dollar.

4. PREPARING CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS (BLUEPRINTS AND SPECIFICATIONS)

At this point, the architect/designer prepares construction documents (Final Blueprints), the detailed drawings and specifications which the contractor will use to establish actual construction cost and to build the project. These blueprints will be submitted to the City for your Building Permit Application. These drawings and specifications become part of the contract. When construction documents are finished, you are ready to submit bids for hiring the General Contractor or builder.

5. HIRING THE CONTRACTOR

There are a number of ways to select a contractor. Your architect/designer can make recommendations, or if you already have someone you want to work with, you might send the construction documents to him or her and negotiate fees and costs. Or you may wish to choose among several contractors you've asked to submit bids on the job. The architect/designer will help you prepare the bidding documents, which consist of drawings and specifications as well as invitations to bid and instruction to bidders. The bidding documents are then sent to several contractors, who within a given period of time, reply with bids which include the cost for building your project. The lowest bidder is often selected to do the work but I stress shouldn't be the main factor in hiring a contractor.
While the architect/designer can recommend contractors and assist in the selection process, the final choice is up to you. Some people prefer to act as their own general contractor or to do part or all of the construction themselves. These methods can save you money initially but can also add problems and costs later on. Discuss the pros and cons of these methods with your architect/designer to help you decide what will work best.

6. CONSTRUCTION

This final step is often the most anxiety-producing part of the who process. Up until now, your project has been confined to intense discussion, planning, and two-dimensional renderings. When construction begins, your project moves from an abstraction to a physical reality.
The architect/designer's involvement normally does not stop with the preparation of construction documents. Architect/designers also can provide construction administration services. These services may include assisting you in hiring the contractor, making site visits, reviewing and approving the contractor's applications for payment, and keeping you informed of the project's progress.
While the architect/designer observes construction, the contractor is solely responsible for construction methods, techniques, schedules, and procedures. The contractor supervises and directs the construction work on the project.
The path to a completed building project is paved with lots of challenges and uncertainty. There are literally hundreds of decisions to be made, decisions which have a strong impact on how the project looks and functions over time.
The architect/designer can ease the way by helping you avoid wrong turns, but also can direct you to solutions you never considered. The result is a unique building project created to meet your needs, express your individuality, and provide enjoyment for everyone who uses it.”

Hope this helps!
 
  #4  
Old 03-14-05, 02:05 PM
kbutterfly
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Adding on

Thanks Doug, for your advice and all the time and thought you put into your reply. I am aware it will be a long and time consuming project. Your knowledge will definatley help me out. -K-
 
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Old 03-14-05, 02:08 PM
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kbutterfly,

You're very welcome!

I hope it helps you.

Good Luck in your venture!
 
  #6  
Old 03-17-05, 08:46 PM
L
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-K-

I didn't read Doug's post -- I don't have to. I KNOW the steps involved in developing a plan for an addition. It starts out as a concept, followed by a sketch which comes about after a few hours of measuring, LOTS of talking, and, at some point, a real drawing. At some point you'll have the blueprints (I'M DATING MYSELF HERE!!), and finding out what your local bldg. dept. has to say about the whole thing -- setbacks, what fees are involved with the type of addition that you are planning, whether your CC&R's will allow it, etc., etc. At some point in all of that, you'll have probably choosen a contractor, and you will find out whether or not it is even doable.

Back to your original question -- "What steps to take to have a smooth experience?" Mostly, just be prepared to spend quite a few hours in the 'design' stage of the whole thing. It's cheap to change a line in a drawing, but it'll be expensive to move a wall a couple of inches just because you and the contractor didn't totally understand each other. And pick the contractor based on "Is this a guy I can reason and deal with" more than "PRICE!!" Trust me, it's going to be cheaper and a lot less aggrevating in the long run!!
 
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Old 03-18-05, 08:55 PM
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Boys, Boys, Boys:
I am away for 9 months building stuff and you guys are still at it. both have given good advice. I will keep my mouth shut.

Jack
 
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Old 03-18-05, 09:14 PM
L
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Jack, my old friend,

Nine months?? It seems more like 9 YEARS!!! But I know how things go when you get busy and involved with other things -- something has got to give, and, unfortunately, this web site seems to be one of the expendables. (I've been in positions where I've had to ignore it for a couple of weeks at a time. Not that I want to, but when it comes down to a choice between coming in here or going to bed at 2AM, the bed usually wins!!)

Mike
 
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Old 03-18-05, 09:20 PM
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Mike

Mike:

Send me a short PM. XXXXXXXXXXXX

Jack
 

Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-18-05 at 10:12 PM. Reason: No e-mails allowed within posting
  #10  
Old 03-31-05, 12:14 PM
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Hey guys - great post doug - this describes the process very well.

1 thing to mention - the difference between your "potential problem" with a design/build company and an architect is the issue of over budget projects.

If the AIA contract is used, it requires the architect to assist the owner in designing a project that is within the owner's budget.

this means, if it comes in over budget, the owner has several choices:

1) he can ask the architect to redesign (within limits) to bring down the cost of the project. often this means:

2) reduce the scope (size) or quality of the project, to make it cheaper

3) the owner can increase their budget

4) the owner can rebid the project (often doesn't help much - unless you bid to just one contractor the first time around).

5) the owner can abandon the project.

i'd say - if you go with a d/b company, make sure you can shop the drawings out if their price is too high & also make sure they design to your budget!!
 
 

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