A guide for homeowners doing renovations.

Specifically - Hiring Contractors, How to Save Money and Disaster Prevention.

Showing posts with label Cost of Average. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cost of Average. Show all posts


25 Foot Beam Vaulted Ceiling Convert
You've discovered that wall you want removed is load-bearing.  At least we're going to assume that through consulting various sources you think that it is.

There's only one professional that is now allowed(at least in my area) to provide a solution for doing this despite general contractors, some carpenters and some knowledgeable DIYers that can tell if a wall is load-bearing and maybe offer a good way of safely removing the walls and replacing them with some other structural means.

That professional is a structural engineer.

They cost a lot and it's by the hour.  It's going to depend on  too many variables to get a rough estimate but $1200 or more is likely.  I've had some clients though that chose to hire me and I saved them a ton of money because I know stuff that I can tell a drafter and save on engineering costs in multiple ways.  Not only that, after they've worked with me, they end up changing their minds and getting something more that they want and better value on occasion.

Now, since it's just one wall you might want to hire that engineer and then get your pricing for the execution part later.  That's just a time saver but really, on bigger jobs or if you are doing lots of work then really, you should just call a general renovations contractor and they can tell you what is practical and start budgeting!

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You're about to start your renovation but you have no idea about the cost. So what do most people do?  It's the worst way people get reno cost information.
*Hint*:  They might google it(and that's not always terrible but inconsistent) but aside from that?

As a contractor, it's probably one of the most frustrating problems in the industry because cost is usually priority #1.

I'm am sometimes already at a disadvantage because my potential clients have sought out finding the ballpark cost and that gives them false expectations.

Likely, saved budgets are on the edge of this false information.  When time comes to start the job, there's no contingency or room in the budget for doing things properly or getting that extra feature that really makes you happy.

Luckily I've found ways to get past that problem but 90% of other contractors I believe still follow bad practices and give low-balled information that's used as bait.


Everything is in theory until plans are drawn up.  In a perfect world WE KNOW, there's no red ink from your city's building department.

So the worst way to get information on "how much does a renovation cost" is to: "ask for an estimate".

So they get estimates.  And wrong ones.  Let me ask you this.

Aside from the main differences between quotes and estimates, which one do you think has more reliable information?

It's simple, a contractor is going to do a way better job of quoting because it's on them if it's wrong.  I "sweat bullets" sometimes when I give a quote - I certainly lose sleep on occasion.  I don't quote on imaginary blueprints either because the risk is on me and if I mitigate that risk, it just means you're going to be unhappy paying the extra costs.  And since I don't play at unethical "Smart Quoting" games, I sometimes lose jobs because low-balled estimates are used to bait homeowners.


So the best way to get information on your renovation cost, is to, and by far:

Develop a budget.

One thing I've learned over the years, is that I can strategically play "the game" very well but I choose not to and to operate differently and ethically.


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The Cost of Drawings Will Be...

Well It Depends of course! (But I can still give you an idea)

One question that always comes up is how much are drawings going to cost? And it doesn't end there!   Let me explain why such questions are hard to answer.

It will depend on a number of factors, and they are all huge.

  1. Are the renovations an addition or adding a story or simply moving interior non-load bearing walls?  Will roof changes be required?
  2. Designers charge typically by the hour and the amount of revisions you need will heavily impact the price. Are you picky? Decisive? Also, changing your mind once say during permit-submitting ready drawings are completed and going back to slight concept changes that need re-rendering might also heavily influence the price.  You might need more "details" or "cross sections".
  3. If you count an engineer's drawings for structural, you're going to be spending substantially more. Same goes if you get an architect to design you a shed for example if you get my point.
  4. You are also going to have to pay for numerous "details", "cross-sections" and more than likely a "site" plan as well.  Minimums will be required by your municipal district and extras by your contractor (If they're good they'll have a fine line threshold but again, it depends on #1 & #2 mainly).
That all being said:

To Answer the Question

Sometimes designers will provide a cost per sq. ft.

    On average, I'd say you are going to be paying somewhere between $1,000-5,000 + engineering.  I develop a budget and work with my clients to ensure that minimal revision costs are saved and I can help eliminate expensive concept changes by providing information on what's practical to meet your overall budget.  I also have a whole bag of tricks to help save on these costs.

    Best of luck!


    It's not enough that you can trust them(ie: your contractor)  which is why I think this article will save you thousands of dollars.  It's applicable to all combinations of renovations involving bathrooms, kitchens or multiple trades.  Any time you're selecting from materials or look to make changes "on the fly".

    Let's start with a given project...say a bathroom renovation - because they're among the 

    Take your time, work with your contractor on a budget and a plan.



    The first question you're going to ask yourself is:  

    On average, how much does a bathroom renovation cost?  

    You'd probably ask the same thing if it were a kitchen, garage, addition or house.

    It's next to impossible to answer.  I've done a lot of bathrooms and they're all different - but that's only part of the problem.

    "It's not like picking a car with features to select from, bathrooms are more like picking vehicle parts and seeing what kind of vehicle you can get."

    Make sure you have a budget
    AND plans.


    The problem is there are TOO MANY VARIABLES

     Contractors can't predict:

    1. What is in the walls 
    2. If "Smoke & Mirrors" by a previous owner/contractor was used to do terrible work
    3. If you are going to want to change your mind and when.
    4. What it is YOU want unless they spend a ton of time with you. 

    To mitigate this we use what's called "padding" on our quotes to cover contingency funds.  This is standard. 

    HOWEVER, with bathrooms and other multi-trade projects, this isn't ideal.  If you add all the padding up and it to your costs, then the price, or quote, might not be competitive compared to contractors who are using proper methods.  


    If you do think you are getting a good price, you are likely getting "Smart Quoted".  

    If you aren't getting "smart quoted" and you trust your contractor, then it's only a matter of time before the quoting will catch up with them.  Arguments, tension and unpleasantness will ultimately be associate with your reno.  Unless you're really lucky or they are really lucky.

    Why quoting is a terrible idea

    Bathrooms and other multi-trade projects are prone to problems and none of them you're going to be able to mitigate.

    • They use up contingency funds (unless you're lucky)
    • Multi-trade jobs are highly susceptible to trade cost fluctuations
    • They are prone to having warranty issues.
    • Price creeping happens with the selection of fixtures and materials.
    • Don't scale well.
    • Therefore, are extremely prone to going over-budget
    I would say you have a 90% chance of going over your budget! 

    OR not getting what you want. OR not getting your job finished and that's if you hire a contractor.  It will be even worse for YOU if they smart quoted you or if you decided to do the project management yourself.  

    Problematic Scenarios

    Part of the problem is if you want to change your mind on the fly(maybe you see a deal) on a counter top or floor (or whatever it may be).  This is when it will hit you and discover that you should have done more research.  You'll realize that things get messy fast.  And your contractor is going to put up a resistance to any changes that are expensive OR they will be thrilled that they charged you a change-order hourly rate - better hope it was low! (hint: it never is because change orders are also inefficient)

    Now, let's talk about project management.  
    There's 5 scenarios you will have to choose from.

    Scenario 1 
    General Contractor Provides You With a Quote

    We just went over it. You're going to be over budget or bad things are very likely to happen.

    Scenario 2
    Sit down, have a chat, and discuss your ideas.
    Check if you and them are a good fit.
    General Contractor Provides You With a Proper Contract

    You know how to price shop and compare apples to apples. (A different article)

    Scenario 3
    The Sub-Trade General Contracts
    And sometimes they'll share that burden with you - that's worse.

    You get the plumber or the HVAC guy or the electrician to project manage.  This is bad for you.
    It's bad for scheduling, it's bad for the warranties that might come up later, it's bad for quality control and most of all, it's bad for your budget.  It's all of THEM vs YOU.  Let me ask you this.  Does the electrician know or care about what counter tops you are going to chose?  Or how waterproof your bathroom floor needs to be?  Are they going to care how much another trade is going to cost? Probably not as long as they get paid first.  Construction phases overlapping and re-work are going to be prone.  This is very bad for you!  Even if you trust them, and they trust each other.  It only goes well until something goes wrong, once.

    Scenario 4
    You hire the carpenter

    This is your next best option.  It's not ideal, but the good news is: you're probably going to get your bathroom completed.  Budget, warranty and scheduling are all going to be iffy though.  A well rounded carpenter is the only trade that's going to be able to salvage a mess but depending on your contract it could cost you or them.

    Scenario 5
    You are the General Contractor

    Don't ever try and project manage a bathroom yourself unless:
     (and i stress that you shouldn't)

    1.  It's your bathroom.
    2.  You have deep pockets.
    3.  You have a lot of time
    4.  You don't care about warranty
    5.  You are well connected.  (this is dangerous because you might be falling into scenario 3)
    6.  You are a carpenter.
    7.  You aren't doing much for upgrades.
    8.  You have a bail-out plan.

    Follow this simple checklist of tips

    • If they give you a quote, that's a flag- you're being smart quoted or one/both parties are going to be unhappy.
    • If they are sub-trades other than MAYBE a Carpenter. that's a flag.
    • If they aren't doing a budget, that's a huge flag.
    • If they are cheap - might be a bad choice. (check if we have an article on finding the best prices)
    • Finally, if you DON'T have ONE CONTRACT for the whole job, you need to find someone else.
    Thanks for reading and I wish you luck!


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    1. Decide on a project priority
    2. Find some features you like
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    4. Research the kind of plan maker you need
    5. Consider finding & including a contractor in the designs for big projects
    6. Develop a budget from the concept designs
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