home remodeling question


what is the "customary", or "typical" procedure a homeowner would take when doing a project as a basement finishing, or remodel of say a wooden deck, or perhaps adding a room ?
specifically, say Joe Public, calls up several contractors for quotes. they all survey the job, and write up their bids.
question - what level of detail should those bids encompass?
for example, adding a new room - should their bids include the specifics of the foundation ? (ie. preparation, use of wire reinforced mesh, gauge of mesh, or maybe rebar - distance between rebar, PSI rating of concrete, gravel depth, type of vapor barrier, etc, etc). how about details regarding the type of hardware used on the studs or ceiling joists ? should it spec out specific brands (ie. Simpson, or whatever) ? and details such as types/sizes of nails to use.
i've read plenty of horror stories of clueless contractors (and equally clueless homeowners), both parties having no idea of proper industry practices.
is it customary to allow a contractor to go ahead and just take it on faith (or perhaps their reputation), that they will conform to accepted industry standards (code inspections not withstanding) ?
OR - is the level of detail that i'm harping on something an architect for a project, would be the only person who would be involved in that level of specification ?
how do you decide if an architect should get involved (on say a basement refinish project, or room addition), vs. having the contractor work of a set of rudimentary drawings ?
what do typical contracts spec out ? - for instance, if later down the road, nails start corroding - is it my fault for not spec'ing out specific quality nails ? that's why i want to know what level of detail is customary on a contract. do i have to spell every little thing out, or are there accepted norms in the building industry that competent contractors adhere to ?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mr jones wrote:

Then you have to write down what you want to be done in details and show it to the contractor when he shows up for estimate. If he tries to change things make sure it's for the better not the other way around. Most of them try to be cheap and easy. I haven't had done any renovation on my house but had 5 houses custom built in my life time so far. After everything is discussed make double sure you and contractor both are on same page. If mistake occurs during project the sooner you catch, the better it'll be. My house always had finished basement on same spec, as upstairs.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree with Tony. The more details that you supply, the better your chances of getting what you want. It is important when soliciting bids that each contractor is bidding on the same plans and specifications so that you can compare apples to apples and know that you are getting a good price. If you leave everything up to each individual contractor there is no telling what you will wind up with. Spend a few weeks doing research and writing down what you want. For a basement remodel you could get away with some hand drawn floor plans. For an addition to a house you will probably need a set of plans to submit to your town for approval. Also be sure to get permits and inspections for the job and make sure that your contractors know that. If someone balks about permits or says that you don't need them, that's a red flag and you can cross them off your list. Don't be shy about asking if the contractor is licensed and insured. Those are legitimate questions. Also ask what kind of warranty the contractor gives. It should be at least one year.
If you are absolutely clueless about what you want and materials to use, tell that to each contractor and welcome their input. Then formulate your final drawings and specifications.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tony Hwang wrote:

grow up in the business like many of the people on this group), I strongly recommend getting a professional designer involved, to create buildable plans and a materials take-off sheet. Unless local codes require it (like much of New England), it doesn't have to be an actual architect with the expen$ive stamp for the plans. Ask friends, neighbors, and coworkers who they used to design their remodels. Odds are the same name will start popping up. Independent designers may have a yellow pages listing, but the good ones usually don't advertise much, since word of mouth gets them all the work they can handle. Many home remodel companies say they offer design services, which is fine, but if you want all the bidders to be bidding on the same work (and not apples and oranges), it is best (IMHO), to have your own design in hand. A licensed contractor (versus a place that sends out a salesman with shiny brochures, but subs out the actual work) will know the local codes and customary practices, and have a good working relationship with the inspectors, or he won't be in business long. If a company has been around 10-20 years, you are probably okay. Your call if you want to pay the designer extra for site visits and any needed consultation once the job is underway. The designer can give you names of local contractors they have worked with before, and had good results with. Note that if you are getting a loan to do these upgrades, bank will be happier if you have an actual designer, as will your insurance company. Yes, this will add anywhere from an extra few hundred, to a couple of thousand, to the price of the project, depending on the complexity. But you will likely end up with better results. Look at it as cheap insurance- if a hack puts up something unsafe, or not to code, you could be looking at <tens> of thousands if inspector says 'rip it out', or worse yet, the place falls down in a storm and somebody gets hurt.
-- aem sends....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Bsmt finishing usually involves: Electrical, plumbing and sometimes structural details if "posts/beams" need to be moved. The 3 of those things can "open a can of worms" if you-

especially if you don't know what the Codes require so, in getting a basement done, I would recommend having a 'plan' drawn up with "specs" on electrical/plbg/structure fully detailed" and get written bids based on that. Permits are normally involved although some contractors will say "(You) he doesn't need a permit" Don't fall for that ! You may need the plan to get your permits anyway.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

All of that can come later. Many homeowners are shopping for price. Often, they don't know if the job is going to be $500, $5000, or $50,000. Once that range is determined you can talk to the preferred contractor(s) and get more specific in materials and methods. You may get two or three or five bids and find that you don't want to work with some so don't waste their time or yours yet.
If you are talking a room additiona nd foundation, your best be may be to have an architect draw up plant for hte bid and that takes out a lot of "I think this is OK" stuff and maikes the inspections much easier.

Only if you truly know the contractor. I woudl with some, not with others.

Permits and approvals go much better with plans from an architect. I'm going through a $1million dollar project and the town essentially said "if it is OK with the architect it is OK with us".
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/25/2008 5:17 PM Edwin Pawlowski spake thus:

Not only do they "go better", but such plans are often *required*. I know for a fact that they are here in Oakland, CA, based on recent experience of an acquaintance remodeling his kitchen. The city required an architect's drawings for the project.
--
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
David Nebenzahl wrote:

access the TAXES. You improve your property then the TAX MAN wants to know.Improvements means more $$$$ for the city state and anyone else who can get their grubby fingers on it. You don't need a permit to remodel a kitchen or bath. If your building an addition or doing anything structural then yes.
--
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can\'t make them THINK"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mr jones wrote:

MJ:
If you want a thorough approach to the situation, your local library will have more than one book which will give you very systematic ways of addressing the matter.
Be sure you check licensing and verify insurance. Look at any complaints and then undertake the arduous step of finding out how or if your local authority allows any record of them to be purged so they no longer appear as public information. If you consider your investment significant, going to the local courthouse and looking at the accessible data for civil cases filed may be informative. Call 6 recent, dated customer references. Ask your contractor who his suppliers are. Call those suppliers and then ask them who they recommend for this type of job. If they don't volunteer the name your man, later note that he has been mentioned to you and ask what they have to say. Talk with these material suppliers about the nature of your task and ask them what they would suggest.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 25 May 2008 17:19:15 -0400, "mr jones"

A lot depends on where you live. In Florida you will need engineering for anything that is structural (foundations, exterior/load bearing walls, trusses and roof systems). Your structurals will have all the details spelled out precisely. They also require very detailed plans of anything that involves the wind code (nailing schedules, window ratings and sheathing). Those are the kinds of thiongs that may have you ripping out non-conforming work. You can usually get away with anything that happens inside the structural envelope without much more than a plan on notebook paper if you get a permit at all.
On the other hand there are places that don't require any permits at all. They are usually the ones that you see scattered around the neighborhood in all of those "after the storm" pictures. It is real easy to pick out the post "Andrew" homes in Florida. They are the ones still standing after a hurricane.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.