Category: Assessing & Controlling Home Building Costs

By:
Barry Shaw
March 21, 2018
Pop-Top Home

Denver New Home vs. Pop-Top: What Is The Difference In Construction Costs?

As a follow up to previous Blog re: this topic, below is a re-cap overview of our line item construction cost analysis requested of our Consulting services:

New home ‘overall requirements’ are different and more extensive, than when we ‘add on’ to the existing structure and therefore an increase in price.

Some of the additional items required involve significant site work, especially if there is a slope involved.

For instance, typically multiple retaining walls will be required to shore up aspects of the site, for the planned footprint of the new home/detached buildings/driveway/stairs/recreation areas etc. to be accommodated for at the proper elevations.

Also additional drainage work, above and below grade, will be required throughout the site. This would involve concrete culverts, underground drain pipes, terraced grades and usually retention ponds/storm water planters.

Around the lower part of the home, waterproofing the exterior walls from the bottom of the footings to above finish grade level, will be needed.

Regarding the building/structure itself, new two story concrete and rebar footings will be required, after excavating work; in lieu of using existing footings and typically adding some ‘pads’ for posts to bear on.

As well, new first floor/second floor/roof framing with up to date structural connections will be required by code.

Adjunct new materials (i.e. windows, doors, drywall, flooring, plumbing and electrical fixtures, tile work, paint, etc.) and equipment (i.e. hvac units/ducting, water heaters, kitchen appliances, etc.) and low voltage wiring, cabinetry, fire sprinkler system, closet work, etc., needs to be factored into this budget.

And all of the above is after demolition of the old existing home and other structures are taken off the site ($60,000+), if we’re not starting with raw land.

All in all, it will cost 50% or more to build your new home; but it will be exactly the way you want it to be and virtually maintenance-free with the latest technology implemented into the materials, systems and equipment.

For other Consulting services, including comprehensive line-item values, please send us an email with your inquiry.

Best Regards Always!
Barry

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By:
Barry Shaw
March 7, 2018
Pop-Top Home

Denver New Home vs. Pop-Top: What Is The Difference In Architectural Fees?

We were recently contacted from a homeowner regarding our Consulting services, regarding a comparative cost analysis of Architectural services, for a new ground up home or adding a pop-top.

Below is a re-cap overview of the line item analysis:

The overall time needed for a complete set of architectural plans to be prepared for submittal to City agencies, is obviously somewhat more for a new home, but the driving factor regarding the cost increase, comes from the engineering required.

Additional structural engineering for foundations and framing; civil engineering required for site work/drainage/retaining walls, energy engineering analysis and new hvac, electrical, plumbing systems and equipment needs, all require extra time. Additionally, these details and specifications need to be coordinated with the architectural plans, in the proper places.

The above work is typically performed by our CAD drafters, with pertinent decision making and direction, coordinated by myself as the Architect for the project.

So in general, the Architect and engineering fee will be approximately 25%-35% more. As well, the construction cost ‘differential’ must also be factored into the overall budget, to obtain the total out-of-pocket expenditure for design and construction of a new home.

For other Consulting services, including comprehensive line-item construction cost analysis, send us an email with your inquiry.

Best Regards Always!
Barry

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By:
Barry Shaw
February 21, 2018
LVL vs Steel

Owner’s Advocate – A Resource For Savings

A friend of mine took his car into the shop for work that he knew needed to be performed and was also advised that a ‘check-up’ should be done regarding other parts of the vehicle; he said ok.

A couple days later, a very large estimate was given to him with the explanation that his car needed additional work done and that there was only one way to accomplish this; or was there?

Similar situations can and do occur, in the construction industry with hundreds of options and decisions needed throughout the project.

An Owner’s Advocate, independent Architect, and/or General Contractor who’s fiduciary is directly to the Owner and independent from the Owner’s hired Architect and General Contractor, can provide the Owner with a separate pair of eyes, experience, and options that could benefit the Owner immensely.

For instance, lets say that during the architectural design phase of a new building project, that the engineer designs a structure with steel beams and posts, to achieve an open floor plan effect.

Well, the Owner is not likely experienced to know there is an alterntive to the steel framing. Glue laminate wood beams for instance, will save a significant amount of money and time and still accomplish the clear span request.

The steel structure will require certified welders, cranes to erect and set in place, an additional/different subcontractor and material supplier from the framer, and will require additional carpentry work when integrating with the standard wood framing members.

If the Owner had an independent Advocate/Consultant that provided a well seasoned amount of design and construction experience, he would be advised to explore the above suggested alternative, with the following benefits:

In an average size new two story home project, that we actually just completed, the cost saving differential, from not using steel, would be about: $4,500 in material + $3,000 in initial labor installation + about $2,500 in framing detailing + $1,250 in welder services + $2,500 in crane and erection + about $1,250 in special inspector services, or an additional $15,000!, just in this trade alone (imagine the additional savings available for the other 20 trades in the project!).

Actually not much different either from having an ‘insurance advocate’ on your side, independent of your insurance company and looking out for your best interest exclusively.

If you would like to explore this and other options available for your project, please send us an Inquiry and we’ll get back with you within (24) hours.

Best Always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, GC

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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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