Pros And Cons Of Building A Rambler

You have many styles of homes to choose from when building your own home. One of the most famous styles is the rambler. A rambler home is all on one floor. This style became very popular after world war two when the soldiers were returning home and housing became more affordable. The ranch home has been around for years, but it is still very useful and will remain for years to come.

The ranch style home has many advantages and several disadvantages. You will want to understand these before you decide to build a ranch style home.

The ranch house takes up more of the lot space than a two story home for the same size home. This means that you will have less yard. Many people find this to be a disadvantage while others actually consider it an advantage. It depends on how you look at a reduced yard size. If you don’t like yard work and playing outside, then a smaller yard is an advantage. If you do like working outdoors, then it may be seen as a disadvantage. Most neighborhoods come with parks and schools close by so a sizeable yard is not needed for recreation purposes.

Another advantage of a rambler is the lack of stairs. You may not consider that an advantage now, but what if your ailing mother came to stay with you or you had a new baby. These people have trouble with stairs and it may be to your advantage to have all of the room on the same floor.

Also, a ramble is normally a rectangular or L-shape. This means most places are in close proximity. Getting around quickly is much easier in a rambler. If you want to stay away from the children for a few hours, you may consider this a disadvantage.

Another advantage of the rambler style home is that the rooms tend to be bigger and the floor plan is very airy. With the kitchen, dining room, family room and bonus room all on the same floor it can create larger rooms that join into other rooms. Some people enjoy this type of floor plan because it is easier to get more people into the house for parties and entertaining.

The rambler also is cheaper to build in some circumstances. As you add floors to a building you also increase the complexity and design problems. The basic rambler is very simple in design and so special materials and engineering is not needed. This allows the home to be built faster and cheaper.

This also means that maintenance is cheaper. If you have tried to wash the outside window on the second floor you will understand. Hanging siding is cheaper on a rambler and most other maintenance activities. You won’t have to own a super tall ladder for hanging Christmas lights if you only live in a one story rambler home.

Heating and cooling costs tend to be cheaper compared to other homes. You can insulate the entire roof and the air is kept on one floor. Two story homes often have multiple units to service the different floors. Heat will rise and you will have to be constantly trying to cool the upper floors or heat the bottom floor. Maintaining a single insulated floor is much easier and cheaper.

In summary, many people consider the rambler to be boring in design. Others think that it doesn’t look as nice as other homes. You will have to decide what fits you and your needs best. The rambler can have cost benefits and detractors. However, it has been very useful for years and will continue to be used for years to come.

Home Building Contractors – Why Do My Clients Hate Me?

Most Building Contractors I know get it wrong. They place their priorities on the project, rather than on their clients.

 

Why is that? As simple as it seems to say that the customer comes first, in home building, it’s not an easy task. I can definitely empathize with the builder. The more complicated and personal a provided service is the greater the risk that clients will become confused, emotional, and eventually accusatory.

 

A Home Builder or Baby Sitter?

 

A complaint I often hear is that builders want to be builders, not baby sitters. Builders want to do what they do best … build! Isn’t that the job after all? And by doing their best to build a beautiful home, won’t that satisfy the customer? Whether or not that makes sense, the fact is, it usually doesn’t work.

 

The reason many builders think like this is they learn their building craft and rarely do they learn the “people craft”. And when people are treated like they need to be baby sat, they’re eventually going to cry like babies … and hate their “parents”.

 

Use These Three Problems and Alternate Strategies to help you craft a better approach to your business and turn “hate relationships” into love affairs.

 

PROBLEM: Traditional General Contracting promotes an imbalance of power that lacks respect for the client. The contractor is perceived to be calling all the shots.

 

STRATEGY: The client becomes an Owner Builder and the Builder becomes the Coach. This serves to level the playing field, put more power in the hands of the client and the relationship has an “even keel” feel.

 

PROBLEM: There’s often very little effective communication between the builder and the clients.

 

STRATEGY: Preset communication schedules so that clients are “in the loop” at all times. The clients are coached through the process, educated about the process, always aware of what’s going on.

 

PROBLEM: Most of the time, clients feel like the wagged tail. When a client feels pushed around, they’re eventually going to push back.

 

STRATEGY: “Owner Builders” are involved. The Coach gives them decisions and duties to perform. The clients are motivated to save money and get more of what they want and see the value of their involvement. Involvement breeds personal responsibility which breeds more respect for the coach.

 

Know, Like, and Trust

 

Business more easily flows to those who people know, like and trust. By incorporating these strategies, as a builder, you can earn the respect of your clients. You are literally placing the client first! They will get to know and like you sooner and trust builds quickly.

10 Tips When Buying A Garden Office, Room or Building

I have summarised 10 essential things you need to consider when buying a garden room or home office from a UK manufacturer or supplier. Below are the vital things to consider prior to making a purchase, as obviously whenever buying a new garden office, room, building etc you want to ensure you are getting value for money and making the right purchase, for the right reasons. These tips are universal, as they apply whether you are buying a contemporary modern garden-room or an eco-friendly garden office, whatever the garden building or living space.

Here are a list of 10 keys things you need to consider:

1. Decide what function your new garden living space will be used for – and ensure that the design can meet these requirements. If it is going to be a garden office then you may require a garden room manufacturer that offers more electrics and good natural lighting options. Although I would advise not too much light if using computer screens or displays, as these can be a little sensitive to too much natural light.

If it is a gym or hot tub enclosure you want, then you will naturally require good ventilation. As a home cinema you may require excellent acoustics and sound proofing. As a granny annex or guest bedroom you would require excellent insulation, you may even wish to feature an en-suite shower or bathroom. Fortunately many garden building manufacturers offer these options. Also bear in mind whether you will need certain internal features such as cable TV, taps, toilet facilities, maybe even a bedroom. With regards to flooring consider whether you require laminate flooring, solid oak or perhaps even a carpeted finish… As you can see there is plenty to think about. Before making that purchase be 100% sure the design can match your requirements.

2. Plan the position for your new garden room carefully – if the garden room is more than 5 metres from your home and 1 metre from any boundary and does not take up more than 50% of your garden, then no planning permission is required for 95% of builds. This is provided your original home has not had any previous additional building extensions. Also bear in mind there are some restrictions in certain conservation areas and the like.

3. Planning permission may not be required for your garden building if…

1) Your Garden building will reside a maximum of 5 metres from your property.

2) Your garden building is either more than 20m from a public right of way or is nearer to the right of way than your house is.

3) If you do not live in a conservation area, an area of outstanding natural beauty or in a listed building.

4) Your garden building is for your private use only.

5) The building stands less than 4 metres high

6) Less than 50% of your total garden space is occupied by your garden building.

4. Do you want more than one floor? – As partly indicated by point 5) of the planning permission guidelines, if your building stands more than 4m high you will require planning permission, this is also the case if your building is made up of two floors or more. Luckily garden-building suppliers can work to many different specifications, so as long as you make them aware of your desire to have two or more floors, you should be good to go.

5. What size of garden room do you require – you can build a garden room of any size and provided it does not take up more than 50% of your garden area, you will not need planning permission but you will need building regulation approval if the rooms is over 30m2. However, it may be prudent to check with your local authority and the developer of any new build housing development, just to ensure there are no other quirky restrictions in your local area.

Garden rooms can even be attached to your home like a conventional extension. This would require building regulations approval but no planning permission provided your home has not had any previous building extension and that the extension size planned is within your permitted development rights. This is explained more fully at (www.planningportal.gov.uk) A professionally constructed garden room can even add considerable value to your home and garden rooms like The Qube come with a full 5 year or optional upgrade 10 year guarantee.

6. Do you require an open plan room or a multi room garden room – with designs now available for fully self-contained living spaces, there really are no limitations, any room combination you can think of, and you can do it. Whether they are open plan or multi room, it’s really only down to personal preference and the limitations of the garden room manufacturer you are dealing with. Open plan room games rooms for instance are proving very popular getaways, as are surround sound cinema rooms, bar areas for the dads, musical studios, it really could be the ultimate entertainment space.

7. Think about the type of design and style of your new garden living space – are you looking for a modern contemporary look or do you require the building to compliment and harmonise with the existing style of your home. This is important as you may not want the garden room, office or whatever potential use you have for it to clash with the style of your home. Fortunately there are numerous options available to you. So if you want a modern contemporary look choose a supplier that can cater for your needs, and if you want the garden building to blend in with your home, make the supplier aware of this, so you can be sure they can deliver what you request.

8. What materials will it have to be constructed with? – Are you after a timber building, wooden cladding or would you prefer a more modern, contemporary metallic material, all down to personal taste and available budget. Wooden cladding such as Western Red Cedar is naturally resistant to moisture, decay and insect damage. Whereas Cape Cod Cladding is a low maintenance wood cladding with a 15-year factory finish warranty, available in numerous colours.

9. Does it have to be eco-friendly? – If you are the sort of person that wishes their garden building to not only be functional but also eco-friendly, many garden room manufacturers are offering eco-friendly product ranges to cater for your needs. As they recognise the need to be aware of the environment at this current time, and are basing there build structures and materials on eco-friendly principles and values.

Many garden room manufacturers are now opting to use a structural insulated panel (SIP) that fuses a foam core between 2 outer skins of oriented strand board (OSB) to create a super-strong construction panel. The SIPs are used to construct the walls, floor and roof. SIPs offer several benefits to the environment, as they effectively replace conventional stud wall construction, fewer mature forest products need to be harvested. The outer OSB skins are made from “engineered wood” that is manufactured from renewable, fast growing trees. The result of this is superior insulation qualities; meaning heating and electricity bills are reduced meaning fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.

10. So where can you get a garden room like this? – There are many companies and manufacturers specialising in these types of garden rooms. Most of them focus on a niche though such as sheds, summerhouses, gazebos, modern contemporary garden offices or garden rooms. Whereas suppliers such as The Qube offer garden rooms and buildings that are versatile enough to turn into whatever you desire, not only contemporary and modern, but also eco-friendly at the same time, and should you wish can be made to blend in with your home and taken with you when you move home if you require.

Building Houses and Fulfilling Dreams

Building a home is an arduous task for any living creature, from weaver bird to man! The amount of industry and thoughtfulness that goes into it is a great tribute to the concept of family and its inestimable value! A weaver bird will painstakingly weave threads of dry grass into a compact, well planned little home hanging from a tree branch, strong enough to withstand the weight of chicks and parent birds. Man’s dwellings have evolved from mud and straw single room huts to sprawling homes or apartments, built of concrete, and embellished with glass and other decorative building material, designed to withstand the elements.

The evolution of gardens

In the building, there is the house itself and designing the surrounding garden area including landscaping. Gardens came into being in the beginning with the enclosure of space, possibly to keep out marauding animals. When the first civilizations began, gardens began to be aesthetically maintained. 16th century BC tomb paintings of Egypt display lotus ponds flanked by symmetrical rows of acacia and date palms. Gardens developed as the interest in botany grew.

What are the professional services available for today’s gardens?

Interlocking paving stones – these are decorative paving stones laid on outside spaces for a neat look. They have an interlocking feature because of which they don’t get dislodged easily. Yet it is easy to remove them should the need arise. They are laid on a layer of bedding sand. Trenches dug at the borders are filled with concrete to keep the paver blocks in place.

Landscaping – which is modifying the existing features of an area which includes flora and fauna which are artfully chosen and made to grow in a way to create a beautiful environment.

Some tips on landscaping:

· Install an irrigation system that will be convenient. A drip irrigation system with a timer will do the job.

· Use mulch. It is good for the soil, and decorative as it helps the plants to stand out.

· Use good quality soil – the plants require good soil for the roots to take hold

· Arrange the plants in groups of three or five – this makes it look fuller. A good idea would be to include flowers that bloom in different seasons in one group.

· Keep it colorful – all through the year

· Make sure there is proper drainage, especially if the soil is clayey

· Make note of the sunlight hitting the space. It should not be too much to kill the plants, or too little that the plants do not grow. Or choose the plants accordingly. Bougainvillea is a plant that thrives in bright hot sunlight.

· Be sure of your budget and how much you will be able to do to maintain it. Don’t take on more than you can manage.

Professional cleaning services like pressure washing and sealing services

Concrete Services – professionals perform any concrete material work, like steps and paving

Demolition services – part of their repertoire is the removal of unwanted structures and disposal of debris. With suitable machinery, they can demolish even the most stubborn structures.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Custom Home

A custom home is different from a resale home or a spec home. As a matter of fact, it’s you who will design the space based on your needs. You can decide on the rooms layouts, finishings style and the building material quality. When taking these benefits into account, make sure that you know the common mistakes of building a custom home. Read on to know how to avoid these mistakes.

#1: Not Knowing the servicing costs

Some people choose their lots prior to building their custom homes. While choosing a certain site, you should take into account factors, such as amenities, waterfront views, and privacy, to name a few. Another important job is to figure out how much you will need to spend to get it ready and then connect it to services.

Keep in mind that the municipal services, such as sewer, water, gas and electricity cost good money. In order to avoid the additional costs, we suggest that you do a feasibility analysis before purchasing a lot.

#2: Imposing a home design

You should not impose a certain home design on your site. Instead, you should adapt a design to it. What you need to do is choose a site with care. If you have purchased a lot already, you should adapt your design to the site idiosyncrasies.

For instance, if you have a lot teaming with big trees, you should adapt them to the design of your house instead of getting them cut down. You can save a lot of money, grief and time by designing a home that respects its environment.

#3: Starting the work before deciding on a budget

Before you start designing, make sure you have decided on the budget. The home design will have a great impact on all the related things, such as interior finishings and exterior landscape. To keep things moving in the right direction, you should set a realistic budget. This will help you and your designer keep connected. And the costs will also stay in your control.

#4: Choosing the wrong home designer

Choosing a custom home design that can’t meet your style needs is not a good idea. Actually, you may want to consult a good builder for recommendations. Once you have made a list of a few designers, you should choose one based on your requirements. For instance, you should consult a good general contractor. He may give you a few good names so you can choose the right professional.

#5: Green building

Do you know what green building is? Even if you do, you also have to know the costs of incorporating the techniques for your custom home. As a matter of fact, green building may help you keep the costs down. For instance, if you employ an engineer, he can help you save money on window orientation, roof overhangs, and heating systems, just to name a few.

So, these are some common mistakes that you have to avoid when custom building your house for the first time.

Contemporary Home Builders – Building Your Dream House Effortlessly

Are you getting excited about building your dream house? Want to make the process easy and stress-free? Why not hire contemporary home builders and avail yourself a number of home designs that not only suit your budget but also fulfill all your specifications!

When you think of building a new abode or renovating the existing one, the first thing that strikes your mind is how to get it done. No doubt, you’ll be thinking of carrying out the complete process on your own as there’s nothing more special than decorating or renovating your home with your own efforts and creativity. Once you finally decide to work on your own and manage your finances accordingly, you must never look back or feel depressed at any instant of time as this will break you from inside and will tear you apart thereafter. If in case, you feel like you are not made for this task, you must hire an expert who will build your dream home based upon your specifications and will carry out all the necessary tasks effortlessly.

Your specifications may include factors like:

Total number of rooms to be included

• Type of furniture to be used

• Type of doors and windows

• Colour of the walls

• Floor ideas

• Different kitchen designs

• Type of lighting to be used

• Carpet colour for your living room

• Bathroom style

• Bedroom design

• Roofing system

These are some things that you must include in your ‘To-Do’ list while narrating your specifications to the builder you hired. Before hiring a builder, it is important that you find out what exactly you want, i.e. what kind of house you are about to build. Once you decide on what home design to choose, you can move on to the next big step, i.e. setting a specific budget. Make sure the design you choose fulfills all your expectations and suits your budget plan too. Moreover, you must choose the right professional who not only carry out the process meticulously but also make sure that your house plan works best for you in the best possible fashion.

Once you give your best shot in order to kick off the renovation process in a well-organized fashion, you must pay attention to certain factors that can play a great part in making the process go a lot more fluently. This is where the importance of an experienced professional come into the picture, so it is important that you pick a perfect consultant or architect to take care of the complete designing process, seek other professional advice as required, take care of the future trends and pick a design accordingly, make a list of all the things that are involved in the process of home renovation, and more.

Importance of Architects in Building a House

If you think good architecture is not important, you need to think again. Good architecture improves our lives in many ways. As a matter of fact, well-built houses and offices can help you increase your productivity. Let’s find out the importance of good architects as far as building a house is concerned.

Quality of life

Today, we try our level best to improve our quality of life. You may have heard the common saying “if you look good, you feel good”. And this is true about buildings as well. And this includes your own house as well.

If you want to improve your quality of your life, you can do so by building a house that can help you achieve this goal. This will be the house that you will be proud of. And you can achieve this goal by working with a good architect.

If your house has no design intricacies and it’s just a door and four walls, it may not be enough to improve your quality of life.

So, the question is, how can you make it more appealing? You can do so with the help of an architect. They can help you add beauty, creativity and art to your life in more ways than one. These professionals know how to choose the best design for your house.

According to many studies, houses with good design and architecture help create healthier businesses and communities.

Balance

If you want to add a sense of balance to your space, you should consult an architect. We know it’s not easy to design a building. By working with an architect, you can ensure that your house has a sense of balance.

Aside from this, design and architecture helps bring balance to your life as well. As a matter of fact, good design can help you make your life more efficient.

We know that well-designed hospitals help treat patients in an efficient manner. Similarly, well-designed schools are important for better learning environments. Also, workplaces that have good architecture can result in higher employee productivity.

A well-designed house can result in a healthy balance in your routine life. Aside from this, good architecture allows your neighborhood to improve in many ways. In fact, it’s the skills of architects that has helped us move from clay houses and huts into state-of-the-art houses of today.

With the passage of time, good architecture continues to make progress and spurs on us all to follow healthier habits. Therefore, we can’t deny the importance of hiring the services of an experienced architect. Make sure you work with a qualified and experienced architect.

Conclusion

Although most people don’t give enough credit to architects, it can’t nullify the fact that these professionals play a great role in this field. The job of an architect is not easy at all. They need to consider a lot of factors in addition to tolerate tons of pressure. So, if you want to build a new house, we suggest that you hire the services of a good architect.

How to Have the Best Home Building Experience With Your Custom Builder

1. Know your builder – It is very important to get to know your builder. Treat your first meeting like an interview. Learn about them, their background, their business, and experience. You are going to be working with this person very closely for the next year, it is important to choose carefully and understand their role in the process.

  • Some good personality traits to look for in a builder: a good listener, a good communicator, honest, and field experience. Make sure you are actually talking to the builder not just the sales person!
  • Think service because ultimately this person is providing you a service. What are your expectations for service during this process? Ask questions that tell you how they provide good customer service.
  • Are they showing a genuine interest in you, your family, and your values? It’s NOT about them, it should be about you!
  • Is the builder being up front about how the process works? For instance, let’s say the good, the bad and the ugly! Are they realistic?

2. Be involved! – This is your home and you’re choosing to build, not buy an already completed home. Depending on how custom you want your home, there can be hundreds of choices that need to be made. Have a realistic expectation of the time that it will take to get it done. In addition, all partners should be involved in the process from beginning to end. This can be difficult as the process is long and everyone is busy. From finding a lot, to picking finishes, or approving the budget, everyone will be happier in the end if they stay in the loop from the beginning.

3. Know and understand your budget. – Make sure your builder goes over your budget in detail and that you understand what is included in each category or allowance. Ask for pictures of what is included and if you don’t like it, tell him. And then ask for a price for what you do like. Try to eliminate the surprises and have a realistic number from the beginning.

4. Have discipline. – The happiest customers are those that stay closest to their original budget. This might be the hardest one because it puts our emotional side against our logical/realistic side! Try to keep your emotions in check. We know that a $6,000 dining room chandler is perfect, and this is the last house you will ever build, but be realistic. How high is it on the priority list? Can it be upgraded down the road? How important is it really going to be in 10 years? We say have a lot of discipline or a big contingency!!

5. Communication – It is important to have open communication with your team. That includes you, your partner, your builder, your designer, and anyone else involved in the process. Learn early the best way to communicate with your builder and stick to it. Remember, many builders are running multiple jobs or spend most of their time in the field. Try to write down and save up your non-urgent, important items and communicate them all together. Realistically you should be talking to your builder 1-2 times per week throughout the process.

6. Always keep your eye on the ball. – Stephen Covey said “start with the end in mind,” and that is the “ability to envision in your mind what you cannot see with your eyes.” This does a great job of summing up the home building process. Remember what your goal is: to have a beautiful, unique, new home that you designed and helped build! It is a very rewarding process to see a home come together in a place, where just weeks before, was only earth and trees.

7. Enjoy the process and the outcome! – This may be the only time that you build a custom home. By following these tips hopefully this will be an enjoyable experience and one that creates memories that last a lifetime.

How to Estimate the Cost of Building a New Home

This will serve as a help guide by providing some tips and techniques for estimating the cost of building a new home. As an expert residential estimator there are many things to consider before you begin estimating.

Construction estimating can be difficult and it does require a high level of accuracy and detail. It also requires good math skills and a little geometry knowledge. It requires the ability to read and understand construction drawings and details and how they are applied. Basic construction knowledge helps and being familiar with the local building codes.

You may want to enroll in a construction estimating course at the local college or technical school. Another option is to purchase an estimating manual from your local bookstore or go to estimating.org which offers online courses and has a bookstore.

One of the rules that I have learned along the way is the old saying, “measure twice cut once.” Whenever I do a takeoff or an estimate I always follow this rule in order to help minimize mistakes.

What will you need to put an estimate together?

You will need a notepad, a calculator, an architectural scale, and an engineering scale. These are the basic tools you need to put an estimate together.

Architectural & Structural Drawings

Now you are ready to open the plans and begin to review them. The easiest thing to do is look them over and get a feel for the basic building concept. You should get familiar with the information that is contained on each sheet.

Most construction projects have a set of architectural drawings and a set of structural drawings. I will explain the difference between the two.

It is important that the plans are to scale and have all the required details and wall sections needed to properly estimate from.

What is typically included in a complete set of architectural plans? The drawings at a minimum need to contain the following sheets: a title/cover sheet, a site plan, a floor plan, a foundation plan, four elevations, a roof plan, an electrical plan, a sheet with a typical wall section, a sheet with the window and door schedules, and a sheet with the necessary building and architectural details.

The structural drawings are drawn by a structural engineer, not the architect, unless the architectural firm has an in-house engineer. Any interior shear wall or bearing wall is detailed on these drawings.

The engineer calculates all the uplift and bearing loads of the roof trusses on all the interior and exterior. After doing the calculations they determine which walls are shear or bearing or both and what is required to properly support those uplift and or bearing loads. The engineer will put a structural note on any wall that is bearing or shear. The note will indicate the sheet number and detail number illustrating how that wall needs to be built.

A load bearing wall for example could have a thickened concrete footer with two pieces of steel and the wall above it may need to be framed out of southern yellow pine versus spruce with special metal hardware. These should be highlighted on the plan so they will not be overlooked. Sometimes the hardware called out by the engineer is a special order and can take several weeks to get. So if you wait until the framing package needs to ordered and there are a two or three shear walls with special order hardware it could delay the construction.

You need to make enough copies of the architectural and structural plans for multiple subcontractors and suppliers bidding the job. To save you money, ask your architect and engineer to convert the drawing files to a PDF file. This will save you time as well and make it convenient because you can email them to as many subcontractors and vendors as you like.

Specifications

A list of product specifications must be provided so all the subcontractor and vendors are bidding apples to apples. This is a list detailing all the products and finishes you want in your new home. It does not make sense to send the plans out to bid without a set of specifications. Without this, the bids you receive will not be apples to apples. Then you will need to have them all rebid the project. It wastes a lot of time and creates a lot of unnecessary work for the subcontractors. Remember these guys do not need practice bidding and some of them may not submit a bid without a set of specifications included. Therefore, everything from paint colors to the floor finishes need to be selected. They need to be listed on the plan or on a separate document.

Doing the Takeoffs

It is too technical to put in a written guide how to quantify the concrete, masonry, lumber, and shingles just to name a few. For example let’s assume you need to quantify the masonry block on a single story block home. You have to know how the wall is assembled which includes the ability to visualize and understand construction methods. If the exterior walls have multiple heights, a regular block (8x8x16) needs to be added and a lintel block needs to be deducted in each location where the plate heights change. If some of the walls are on a 45 degree angle you need to be able to know whether to estimate an angle block or butterfly block. The door and window openings need a certain quantity of regular blocks deducted plus a half block every other course on each side of each opening. You could have too much of one size block and either not enough or some units not accounted for at all. These inaccuracies will throw off your budget and cost you time and money. This ability and knowledge can not come from a book but through hands on experience combined with years of estimating experience.

If you decide to quantify the materials yourself I suggest you refer to Walker’s Building Estimator’s Reference Book, frankrwalker.com which has instructions on how to estimate the quantities of concrete, masonry, lumber, drywall, etc. It is considered the bible for construction estimators and it is one of required books included in the study guide for most state contractor’s exam. Just keep in mind that these reference books do not have tips and tricks as well as real world experience as explained above.

You can employ the help of your subcontractors bidding the work or your suppliers. You may pay more for their product or service or you can hire us. Either way you are paying for someone to review the plans and quantify what is needed to build the project.

If you have your lumber yard quantify the material remember he is trying to win the job so he may provide a takeoff that is too tight. This does not benefit you if you have to keep reordering more lumber. The obvious answer to this is to have your framer put together the lumber list for you. Well that does not work either because he will over order so he does not run out of material and have to make additional trips to finish. They want to finish as fast as possible so it can get inspected and they can get paid. The bottom line is neither are working in your best interest.

I recommend you do not attempt to quantify the materials yourself. I have outlined valid reasons why. It is very technical and requires someone with years of estimating experience combined with hands on field experience.

Soliciting Bids

This part of preparing an estimate can be done by most anyone. I suggest you contact your local builder’s association to get subcontractor referrals or use Angie’s List, angieslist.com which prescreens contractors as well

You may have heard the term RFQ – Request for Quote. You want to solicit at least contractors. Most people will say three bids, so why do I recommend five bids? Let’s say you contact five contractors and all five contractors bid the project. You got to figure one will be the high bid and one will be the low bid. So those should be set to the side because chances are the low bid is probably missing something and the high bid is priced too high. The remaining three bids should be reviewed thoroughly to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

When you contact all the subcontractors that you want to bid your project be sure to give them a bid due date. That way you do not have to chase them. Give them a reasonable amount of time to review the plans and specifications, typically a week or two.

Analyzing the Bids

First organize all your bids by trade, such as putting all your electrical bids together. A three ring binder with dividers and tabbed with each category is a good way to organize all the bids.

Once you receive the bids you need to read them carefully and review them against the plans and specifications. They should have the project information and the date. They need to be detailed and itemized. The cabinet bid should not say “cabinets”. Instead it should list and quantify all the cabinets by finish, style, size, and location, example 15 lnft of 42″ oak raised panel kitchen cabinets, 1/ea 60″ melamine master bath cabinet, 1/ea 36″ melamine hall bath cabinet, etc. If it does not include the countertops it should state that so there is no misrepresentation.

When a proposal needs to be revised, make sure it states the revision date or states “revised”. That way when you compile the bids and you need to refer back to them you will be looking at the latest one.

The proposals should also indicate workmanship and warranty. All this is important, especially if the contractor does not perform and mediation or worse litigation is required.

How to Negotiate the Best Price

Once you determine the three competitive bids the hard part is negotiating with the contractors. You have to assume that all the quotes will be inflated with the understanding you will negotiate less. Therefore, you need to get them down as low as you can to the real number. I always ask my subcontractors and vendors if the bid is negotiable. Remember it never hurts to ask, the worse they can say is no. And if they say yes, then I ask them what is the maximum they can cut their bid. They normally respond with, “how much do I need to cut it to get the job” and again I put it back on them by saying, “the maximum you can cut your price”. Never name a price first! You should already have a budget of what you can afford to spend on each item. You never know whether or not they would be willing to do it for less than that.

Once they lower their bids and you determine the low bidder you need to compare warranty, workmanship, and references. Price is important, but if they can not finish the job the price does not mean anything. You definitely need to check both project references and credit references. The bottom line is you want the best contractor for the least amount of money.

Preparing an Estimate

Once you have awarded the job to each subcontractor you will want to prepare an estimate. I recommend using Microsoft Excel to organize your estimate. It is the easiest and mostly widely used spreadsheet application, especially in construction.

It helps organize your estimate. You can use a separate worksheet for each trade within the Excel workbook. You can enter all the material lists and bid amounts you receive. You can track the job to make sure you are on budget. You can email your local suppliers your material lists so they can enter their unit prices and they can email it back to you.

One of the sheets needs to be the estimate summary which has the total cost for each phase or trade. It should include your preconstruction costs and direct construction costs.

It should have the estimate total at the bottom.

There are endless possibilities you can do with Excel and the level of detail is up to you.

We have for sale blank estimates that are in Excel. These are templates that we use which can help you calculate some of the material quantities and can also be used to prepare your estimate. They contain prebuilt formulas for calculating concrete, steel, masonry, and lumber. All you need to do is enter counts and lengths where indicated and the quantities are calculated for you. Contact us to send you a sample template.

Conclusion

I hope this has provided you will some good information on how to prepare an estimate if you are building a new home. We are available to answer any questions you may have. We can help you put together an estimate for any type of construction project, big or small, residential or commercial.

Tips for Using Recyclable Materials in Your Building Plans

The use of recycled materials in green homes and buildings proves to be one of the most common ways to show sustainability. Aside from economic benefits, seeing recycled or salvaged materials never fail to imbibe feel-good factor to ones mood. Here are some tips on how some recycled materials can be incorporated in your green home.

Recycled woods are as effective as finished wood but they are generally cheaper in terms of cost. Recycled woods aside from structural uses in walls and windows can seamlessly find uses in drawers, cabinets, and shelves.

Old newspapers should not only find its way into paper mache. In fact, they can be used as insulation. Carton egg trays an also serve this very same purpose. Hundreds of dollars can be saved from your pockets with this simple act.

Raid your kitchen of empty wine bottles and mason jars. If you think that they can be used only as pen holders and organizers of tiny tots, you’ll be surprised that they can actually be used to build a house. Search for various inspirations of the internet and see that there is actually a wine farm in Australia which used abu 13500 wine bottles to design water-heating facility. Similarly, there is a Canadian man who used 25000 wine bottles to design his house.

Dating back to the 1900s, empty wine bottles have found various uses in construction of homes. In the United States, you can find several homes which have walls with embedded bottles on them. The idea is like hitting two birds in one stone as it serves aesthetic and structural purposes.

Reimagine your bathroom by using sea-sourced materials. If you’re living near the shorelines, then it is a very wise idea to use natural materials you can find and pick from them. Shells and pebbles of various colors, shapes, and sizes can be perfect inclusions in the walls and floors of your bathroom. Isn’t this idea very refreshing to embrace? This one can also save you from the usual high costs of bathroom tiles in home depots.

Sustainable living is an idea which one may find very difficult to embrace and carry out. But with proper thinking and inspiration, it is actually an endeavor that can become an easy reality. Start exercising your environment-friendly minds. And always remember that your very own household bins can become first-hand sources of recycled materials you can actually use to realize a green home.