Category: General

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!

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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!

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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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Barry Shaw
January 24, 2018

Owner Benefits From Paintless Building, with Choice of Colors

The exterior of a building can be clad in a multitude of finishes, of which stucco or plaster, has been a choice for many owners, either in whole or part.

Plaster provides a smooth finish, that is reflective of many Modern style homes, while stucco is typically the choice for a Contemporary style home. We have designed both, in Denver, Pacific Palisades, Kailua-Kona, Austin and many other cities with varied architectural designs, climatic conditions and budget considerations.

Plaster is about three times as expensive as stucco, because of additional labor required and material costs as well. Stucco therefore becomes more cost effective and can also come ‘close’ to a plaster finish, depending on the proportion/type of sand that is specified into the mix.

Another valuable ingredient to either a plaster or stucco mix, is an option for color. There are many different manufacturers that offer an array of different color add mixtures, that can compliment the architectural design and other exterior finish materials of the building.

These color packets are typically designed as a 1-4 bag additive to the cement mix. The more packets added, the more ‘rich’ or prominent, the color of the building becomes.

Since the color is now added to the final coat of the plaster or stucco finish, there is no need to paint the building; it already has the color selected for the end result design, a paintless building.

Thus, literally tens of thousands of dollars is saved from having to paint the exterior walls of a building, not only initially but virtually forever! Additional extraneous cost savings include: no painters scaffolding needed during construction, no disruption of landscape that needs to be replaced from ladders and men working to repaint the building every five years or so and no payment for price increases to perform painting maintenance work, for decades to come.
The subject matter of this article was actually a small part of a ‘whole-house’ analysis performed by us, as Consultants to client’s whom were in the design phase with their architects and requested our On-Call Consulting work.

The scope of this work included a thorough analysis of their architectural plans, before submittal to the building department, in terms of suggested cost savings. In this case, the client saved $50,000-$100,000 that was slated to be paid for, during construction.

For more information on how our Consulting Services can benefit you and your project, please tell us about your needs and let us know what type of project you are working on: Online Consulting

Design, Construction and Consulting Services are available for Light Commercial and Residential Projects, throughout the U.S.


Best Regards Always!

Barry R. Shaw, AIA, GC
BSA Inc Design & Construction
Architects & General Contractors

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Barry Shaw
September 28, 2017

BSA Inc Design & Construction On-Call Consulting

The business structure for design and construction of a new project, whether it be a Custom Home or Commercial building, is typically contracted in one of two ways: the Owner hiring a separate Architect and separate General Contractor, or one entity that is licensed to provide both services, commonly know as a Design-Build company.


in either case, who does the Owner really have, as an independent fiduciary to them only and is a seasoned Resource, looking after their personal interests exclusively and confidentially?

As an example, BSA Inc Design & Construction is currently retained as an independent Architect and General Contractor Consultant, providing On-Call Consultant services for Homeowners in Santa Monica, CA. The scope of work is a new ground up 5,000 sq. ft. home and detached Studio/Garage.

In one of our initial meetings and before a permit was pulled, just two insightful architecture/construction cost saving suggestions paid for our fee and saved the Owner’s over $20,000 in construction costs, that were slated to be spent.

This was accomplished in a collaborative manner, before plans were submitted to the building department and along with the clients architect, so drawings and specifications could be revised as needed, to optimize the cost effectiveness of future construction trade agreements.

Base Consultant Services Include:

  • Receiving direct-cost Supplier pricing for: quality, environmentally appropriate and virtually maintenance-free materials, that are available from our pool of resources over the past three decades.
  • Optimization of a cohesive team of Subcontractors, whom have proven their ability to provide a timely, cost effective and quality job, with follow-up service as needed, after the project has been completed.
  • Contract Safeguards implemented into trade ‘boiler-plate’ agreements; ensuring additional protection against excessive cost and time overruns within subcontracts.
  • Construction schedule, quality and cost saving alternatives, after review of the plans
  • Cost data cross checking throughout the job, between field work and contracts, averting runaway budget overruns.
  • Conjoining with other team members before and during construction, to provide the Owner with unrealized project benefits

Adjunct Consulting Services Available Include:

  • Photographic documentation of the construction process
  • Explore/rework alternate floor plan designs for: schedule efficiency, quality and cost optimization
  • Contractor performance resolution during construction
  • Client construction job-walk analysis
  • Owner Special Requests

For more information or discussion on how our Consulting Services could best fit your needs and benefit you, please inquire at our contact page.

Best to you always!
Barry R. Shaw AIA, G.C.
Barry Shaw & Associates, Inc.

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