Hi all, this might be a bit long so skip if you don't have a few
minutes but I can't believe we're the first to encounter this:
We're gearing up for a major interior remodel, our first in our first
home. We have a one story, quasi-ranch where we're joining an
accessory apartment back into the main part. In summary this will mean
removing a bearing wall that separates the two parts (to be replaced
with a beam and posts of as yet undetermined design), removal of one
and maybe both kitchens (if only one, the other will be remodelled),
changing/removing some of the windows and exterior doors. All work
will be inside the envelope (except, of course the openings).
We've met twice over the past two weeks with a remodeler who's won
some local design awards for his kitchen/bath work and we mutually
feel we've got a good relationship. We were clear up front that we
hadn't finalized our overall design and he seemed interested in
lending his experience to fine-tune what we were shooting for. This
was great because we'd seen his portfolio and his awards are
documented on the web (an independent professional organization) so we
figure he must have his pick of jobs and ours looked interesting to
him. Of course we'd check his references but overall our guts tell us
he's a good man.
Today he called with his price and it came to almost twice what we had
stated we were willing to spend. Not a big problem because we'd also
been clear up front that we didn't know if what we wanted was within
our budget. He emailed me a simple text document listing what he felt
his responsibilities would be (which also contained some inaccuracies
in what we'd discussed) but he had stated verbally that while there
may be deviations from the details the price wouldn't change
radically. He also added that he'd put some time into the design work
so far and would like some assurance ($$$) that he'd not be wasting
his time if he was to work with us further on the design. I can't
argue with this. There's more refinement to be done to the design but
we're pretty close to a final plan and I don't want to string him
I'm starting to think we're asking too much of him leading up to a
proposal, or that we should have had a clearer idea of what we wanted
before we brought him into this and maybe had a 'Plan B' to fall back
on. But we had no idea if what we wanted was doable within our budget.
And now that we see what he's asking, there doesn't appear to be much
room for us to scale back our plans to try to keep him on board and us
within our budget.
(I should add at this point that I have four years of architectural
schooling altho I dropped out when a more lucrative, and equally
loved, professional opportunity came along. I also have several years
experience in constructon and know when to Keep My Big Nose Out of the
Job and let the work continue. My wife is a Finance person by
profession and has no experience with this kind of thing and thinks we
can negotiate the price down by reworking the design (I gently
disagree). Our prospective remodeler is aware of this and remains
So, to summarize our situation: we've come up with a plan, he's
returned with a quote and a very crude list which has some
inaccuracies. I'm thinking we need to cool our jets, finalize our
design on our own and just hand him (or whoever we decide on) a
drawing (which I can do) and an itemized list and hope for the best.
Where does one go for planning out a project like this? I'd thought a
remodeler (or maybe an architect?) would also act as a design
consultant but that appears to be asking too much for a porject of
this scale. I could do the design but I don't know what the 'latest
and greatest' design ideas are, save for what's in the magazines, on
the TV and in books. We want to sell this place in four years and need
it to be marketable; this is as much an investment as a quality of
life endeavor. If we find we can't afford his rates, I want to know
what expectations are reasonable going in when we talk to other pros.
If you've gotten this far, bless you (looking for work?). We've got
the finances, ideas and desire but are looking for professional help
(HAH!) in putting it together.
Any suggestions accepted.