Blog Posts

By:
Barry Shaw
June 2, 2013

Home Addition Size Considerations

A one story addition ‘footprint’ will typically be defined by regulations with respect to side yard and rear yard setback dimensions, as well as a percentage of the lot size, along with a bonus percentage (for lots not located in hillside zone or coastal area). Therefore, the larger the property, the more square footage can be added.

If the site has a detached garage, this may affect the size and shape of the one story addition. For instance, typically a ten foot separation is required between the garage and the one story addition, thus possibly impacting the floor plan design of the addition.

Given our above regulations, a two story addition can be up to 75% of the square footage calculated for the total one story addition allowance. As with a one story addition, height and step back considerations are code parameters that would be of planning considerations, during the architectural phase of the Project.

The type of residential zone that the property is located in will dictate the percentages of the above considerations and is the starting point for these evaluations.

A typical family with mom and dad and two kids, will likely covet their backyard spaces, in different ways. Planning for needs such as a BBQ/eating area; pool; half court basketball; maybe soccer space; grass area for the dog; etc. should be considered.

In this case, a second story addition, especially if the lot does not have a lot of depth, would probably be the preferred option for a home expansion. As stated previously, yes it is more expensive than a one story addition, but sometimes there’s not a lot of choice.

Also, master planning this out door space for ‘adult entertaining’, while the kids are young or even when they are no longer at home, should be thought of. For instance, level changes; semi-secluded seating areas; outdoor bars; access to the kitchen; music/sound considerations relative to the neighbors as well; catering and trash capabilities; etc. should be planned out in a landscape architectural design appropriately.

As well, strategic planning/planting of trees; shrubs; flowers; etc. should be visualized for current and future growth in terms of privacy/maintenance/smell/sun screening/visual color/etc. In terms of natural resources, watering requirements/conservation along with the possibilities of home grown herbs/fruits/vegetables and compost recycling, can optimize the outdoor/living environment.

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Categories: Home Addition
By:
Barry Shaw
June 1, 2013

Building Home Addition Structural Costs

Setting aside hillside lots, lets consider a relatively flat piece of property for a moment, when evaluating building a home addition, either going up (adding a second story) or out (staying on one level).
Building a one story home addition onto the rear of the home will take up yard space, thus limiting outdoor play/recreational use, as well as limiting landscaping, pool and gardening abilities. Also, the longitudinal axis of the home will be projected, thus more of a distance to get to the entry door, front yard and parked vehicles. On the other hand, natural light via skylights as well as volume ceilings can be installed though most of the home, creating very pleasant and energy efficient spaces. Also, a one story set of plans can be approved of much faster by the building department and the addition can be built faster.

Building a second story home addition will provide a more ‘compact’ home, without taking up much yard space. Traversing up and down stairs is a consideration, that should be viewed as a long term condition. Logistics of access to the kitchen, garage and outdoor areas, is likely to be a less frequented decision, but will also likely be thought out much better. Architectural plans will take longer to approve of by the Building Department and permit fees a little more costly. Enjoying views that may be available is a big plus, along with first / second floor privacy that can be enhanced.

The structural part of the building will be an important influence to cost. The footings for a one story home addition, given acceptable soil conditions, can be of modest depth, thus less digging and less concrete needed. Also, the framing elements for a one story addition can be of all timber members. The other trades have less of an impact on cost.

On the other hand, the footings for a two story Home addition will be deeper and their will likely be the necessity for ‘pads’, contributing to more labor, concrete and rebar costs. Many framing members will now be of heavy timber, with much heavier connections. Also, it is likely that steel will need to be installed, with certified welded and bolted connections. After removal of the existing roof, there will be electrical circuits, plumbing and hvac considerations to be rerouted, contributing significantly to costs.

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Categories: Home Addition
By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How The Building Inspector Influences Change Orders

Throughout the construction process, inspections are a requirement for approvals to be obtained, so that the next major phase can then proceed.
Building Inspectors have the power to ‘override’ the Architect’s plans that have already been approved of by the Building Department.
Most of the time, this is within reason, as the site conditions unfold in the field revealing what could not be seen ahead of time by the Building Department or Architect.
In a remodel project for instance, an existing wall that is opened during the project could reveal galvanized pipes, that now need to be replaced with copper; a Plumbing Change Order. Or, old and frayed wiring discovered, thus needing to be replaced with properly sheathed and gauged new electrical wires; an Electrical Change Order.
Site conditions also have their ‘natural’ characteristics to deal with. Lets say an old home is completely demolished and hauled off of the site, making room for a new home to be built. Upon Inspection of the soil that was underneath the home, it’s discovered that some of the areas contain significant pockets of clay. Therefore, this soil needs to be removed; possibly new structural engineering calculations reflecting foundation footing resizing/redesign; import of new good soil; time delays and obviously cost upgrades; Change Orders.
If you would like to know how to prepare for and even avoid some of the many possible Change Order costs, contact us

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How To Pay Home Building Change Order Costs

Change Orders are services (design, engineering and construction) that are outside of and in addition to the Original Contract’s Scope Of Work, for a particular Project.
Most Change Orders occur during construction and consist of material and labor requirements to accomplish a certain Task(s).
Depending on the size and complexity of the work, some of the ways to pay for them are: deposit with balance upon completion of work; deposit with payments as work progresses; no deposit and lump sum payment upon completion of work and possibly a credit or ‘trade off’ against other work of equality in the Original contract.
The above scenarios are assuming the customary ways and means of the General Contractor providing all material and labor needed for the Task. Occasionally, the Owner will for instance purchase specific material and the General Contractor will install it. Either way, the same or similar payment(s) can be made.
For more information on the upside and/or downside associated with the above options, contact us.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

Does The Home Building Contract Contain All The Costs?

There are many different types of contracts for consideration, but for purposes of this short Blog, lets look at some commonalities.

The contract costs are based on the architectural plans and specifications which are based on the Client’s scope of work requests and budget, at the beginning of the process.

Within this world and not withstanding other factors, variations in cost will naturally unfold as part of human nature, no matter how good the intentions are to stick to the plans.

For example, if a self-rimming stainless steel sink is originally selected for the kitchen, but after the granite has already been picked out, fabricated and installed at the site the Homeowner sees that it would look much more appealing to have a Kohler tile-in custom color sink instead, there will be an upgrade in costs.

Or, lets say the master bath has been built inclusive of framing, electrical, drywall and vanity wall mirror, when the homeowner decides that the six-lamp bar sconce, previously designed to run horizontally at the top of the mirror wall, will not be as preferable now as two wall mount sconces, also on the mirror wall. Therefore, the mirror must be replaced; the electrical outlets relocated; and new light fixtures purchased; an upgrade in costs.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

What Part Of the Project Contains The Biggest Costs and How to Control It

A typical Remodel/Addition project will contain a multitude of costs, revolving around material and labor Resources.
Of the two and depending on the type of Project, labor constitutes about twice as much costs as material.
Labor is comprised of both direct labor and Subcontractor labor. For purposes of this short Blog, let’s accept the Subcontractor as mostly inclusive of labor costs (material portion is therefore less intensive).
Direct labor (i.e. finish carpenters) is best utilized in teams/pairs, where the higher paid ‘lead man’ and the ‘assistant helper’ will provide the important resources for this Trade.
Therefore, daily efficiency; a well rounded and complete tool box; along with substantial experience, should yield the most productive outcome, if one other major influence is also provided.
That is supervision and experienced oversight provided by either the General Contractor or on-site Superintendent.
To learn more about how to negotiate, contract with and skillfully supervise a Project, please contact us.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How Clients Influence Construction Change Order Costs

Additional costs are never comfortable, but should be anticipated and accounted for, with a contingency fund.

Sticking to building the approved architectural plans, with little change during construction, will not only assist greatly with controlling costs, but lead to a more timely schedule as well.
When changes are made in the field, a multitude of trades will be involved with associated additional costs.
For instance, relocating one load-bearing wall could likely involve re-engineering; demo subcontractor; concrete subcontractor; framing subcontractor; structural connection supplier; steel supplier; architect; general contractor; lumber supplier; etc.
Allocating a minimum average cost of $500 for each of the above would result in excess of $4,500 in change orders, for this request alone.
Therefore, its advisable to thoroughly ‘live thru’ the plans in a patient and comprehensive manner, so that when one is confronted with the real world reality, it’s no surprise.
If you want to learn more about this process which will ensure a cost effective outcome to your construction pProject, please contact us.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

How Existing Home Conditions Influence Cost

For a moment, lets assume we have an existing older home on a relatively flat site, whereby the owners are requesting that an updated, major remodel be designed and constructed. Here are a few significant categories for cost considerations.
In California, environmental considerations would be one of the first aspects to address.  This would likely involve a licensed Subcontractor specializing in lead and paint analysis, as well as the abatement of said materials in accordance with EPA guidelines.
The existing ‘utility’ capacities and condition of materials/equipment, would be another analysis to perform. Depending on the extent of the remodel, some or all of the electrical, plumbing and hvac systems may need to be upgraded or replaced. Within this world are many choices to be explored and evaluated, relative to the end goals of the new Project.
The conditions of the structure itself such as the roof; exterior materials; windows; and framing systems, will contribute to cost expenditures/upgrades, but can also contribute to future cost savings.
For instance simply replacing a 20 year warranty roof with a 40 year warranty roof (on the existing home as well as the addition if part of the project), will provide the typical Homeowner with their entire occupancy of a one-time investment, of ‘coverage’. Also, this is a wise expenditure, as the difference in cost between the two different grades of roofs, is minimal.
Obviously there are many, many more considerations regarding design and construction of a cost-effective Project.  To learn more, please contact us.

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By:
Barry Shaw
May 31, 2013

Controlling Home Building Costs Before Construction Begins

One of the biggest considerations in building a home in today’s economy is controlling home building costs.

Building a home involves many processes, but perhaps the most important factors are pre-construction architectural design and planning because these are important factors in controlling home building costs.

Typically the architect is responsible for the designs, specifications, engineering and permit processing, with a multitude of choices and decisions along the way. These solutions are a reflection of the home building design requirements, which are then incorporated into the plans.

One of the most accurate resources of data regarding construction costs will come right out of the files of the general contractor.  These files should hard numbers of material and labor costs for every trade needed.

An experienced design build firm will be able to analyze, scrutinize, refine and implement the most cost-effective design for the project.  At the same time, quality, function and schedule parameters must be maintained.

Selecting an architect who is also a practicing general contractor for this strategic part of the process will likely result in the most timely and cost-effective completion of the home building and/or remodeling project.

 

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