There are many reasons why we think that our design-build house remodel process is better than the more traditional process followed by many companies in the home remodeling business.
When they are first thinking about remodeling, especially with more complicated projects, many homeowners think that their first step is to contact an architect. The architect is then paid to draw up plans, attempting to put down on paper the ideas that the homeowner conveys to the architect. One problem with this approach is that most architects do not have a realistic idea of what it will cost to actually build the residential projects that they put down on paper. This is because architects are first and foremost, creative designers; they are not nuts & bolts remodelers. So the first time the homeowner finds out if they can really afford to build the home addition or remodeling project is when the plans are “put out to bid”. Very often H & H Builders has been placed in the awkward position of having to tell an excited homeowner that their remodeling plans will cost two to three times more to build then they were thinking it would cost. This is usually much more than their preliminary budget.
We have also heard this same story from many potential clients who have contacted us after going through the traditional process with other architects and remodeling companies. It is so bad, that one industry estimate is that only about 30% of the architectural designs that are drawn for residential remodeling projects are ever actually built. This is not really the architects’ fault as they are usually in the position of wanting to respond to the stated desires of their clients.
Most residential architects do this very well, but the initial excitement about their great designs is quickly followed by a dash of cold water once the budget realities set in. In contrast to this method, we (H & H Builders) set a budget range with our clients before we begin the design process. We try never to draw up plans that our clients cannot afford. We are builders first and designers second, so we are not interested in drawing plans that won’t get built. This just wastes everyone’s time and money. Bear in mind that the bidding process traditionally takes place after the architect is paid their fee for the drawings. This means that the architect’s clients often have to pay 8% to 15% of the overall project cost for plans that they cannot afford to build.
Another advantage of design-build is that when it is done right, it turns remodeling into a process that is based on teamwork. The designer/architect, client and builder are all pulling together to achieve a successful result. Our goal is a project that pleases client, is built on time and within budget and reduces or eliminates any pain from the remodeling process.
The motivation behind the “put out to bid” process is to get the lowest possible price from a contractor for their work on the remodeling process. This immediately places the contractors bidding on the project in an adversarial relationship with the client and architect. Achieving the lowest possible price motivates the contractor to cut corners, use substandard materials, the cheapest subcontractors, hide problems, avoid communicating with the homeowner and constantly find ways to raise the cost to the homeowner by requiring change orders (charging extra) for any items that were not covered in the original plans or specifications. The truth of the matter is that it is extremely difficult to “fully” specify up front in the plans, all aspects of complicated remodeling projects.
Very detailed plans and specifications can be done, but this extra work drives up the cost of the architectural plans, very often to 15% to 20% of the overall construction cost. The increase in design cost therefore, eliminates much of the potential cost savings from trying to get multiple low price bids. An unscrupulous remodeler can always find items (legitimate or not) that were missed in the plans. The contractor can then charge a very high price for the “extras” making up for any initial cost savings. This happens over and over again in the industry. The contractor will present a low bid and then make up the difference after the project is started with changes and the homeowner is at the mercy of the contractor. Our experience is that most architects actually prefer to use their talents for creative design rather then trying to ensure that a remodeler does competent, high quality work.
Another problem with the traditional process is that there are always different ways to do things. When the architect or designer tries to fully specify the project, they can end up forcing the remodeler to do things in a less efficient, more expensive manner. Because of the adversarial relationship, there is no motivation for the low price bidder to inform the homeowner that there is a less expensive or even better way to do things. In our design build process, H & H Builders is involved with the design process from the beginning. This means that we are work with our clients to set a budget and to present alternative designs and processes that make it possible to build the project within the clients’ budget. Or, to honestly explain up front, before drawing & designing, that the intended results will cost more than was originally hoped for.
These are only a few of the reasons why we think our design build process is a better way of doing remodeling. Call us and we can explain how we can help you with your remodeling project.