After dealing with many clients who seemed to be completely unaware of what’s involved when doing new construction in the house, I came up with the following list to clarify their standing. Hopefully it will help all of you out there as well.
10 STEPS TO NEW CONSTRUCTION / RENOVATION
1- BUILDING OBJECTIVE:
Decide what you want to do. Determine what’s more feasible, if adding, renovating, or demolishing and building anew.
2- ESTABLISH A PROGRAM:
Clearly establish the parameters for your project: what your needs are, what is it that you would like to have, or how can you improve the existing conditions of your building.
3- COME UP WITH A BUDGET:
Determine how much money you have to allocate for your upcoming project, or how much financing you can obtain. Always allow a 10% to 15% for extras or unforeseen construction expenses (contingencies).
4- GET A SURVEY:
A survey is a legal document establishing the “metes & bounds” of the property. The property lines are clearly defined, as well as location of the house in relationship to the property. Chances are that you may have an old title survey along with your house papers, that can help you at the beginning, but a new architectural survey will be needed later on to file at the building department.
5- HIRE AN ARCHITECT:
Once you’ve obtained a survey, a licensed architect is the person you need. He/she will review that survey and will establish legally what are the minimum requirements and the maximum floor area that you can add / build as per the building and zoning codes that apply to your project. In the contract, clearly specify what the architect’s involvement will be, to avoid future conflicts. Usually structural, interior, or landscape design, are items performed by others requiring a separate contract. After a contract is signed by both parties, the architect will then come up with a solution to your problem based upon the program that you’ve created. An architect will guide you, will determine what is the best approach to take, and will produce drawings indicating the design intent. After that point, the interaction between you, the owner, and the architect will finally determine the final design.
6- CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR:
It’s always desirable to interview at least 3 licensed contractors who are capable of efficiently completing the job. Obtain references from previous homeowners who have used them. Have at least 3 separate bids. As a rule of thumb, choose the bid that’s not the lowest, nor the highest.
7- FILING AT THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT:
Once the architect’s design is agreed upon and a contractor is selected, the project is filed at the local building department, along with contractor’s information and proof of insurances. Filing fees (paid for by the owner) apply. The drawings are reviewed by a plan examiner. They can be approved or rejected. If rejected, the architect will have to prove or correct his standing until the filing is finally approved. When that occurs, a building permit issued, and construction may start.
8- START OF CONSTRUCTION:
The contractor is responsible for securing all building permits, as well as securing a construction fence before construction starts. The contractor and sub-contractors shall be knowledgeable about all construction codes that apply, like OSHA, electrical, plumbing, etc. Don’t forget that the contractor is hired to execute the design intent as indicated by the architect, and to stay on budget. You, the owner, should not be influenced by him regarding the design or materials to use. Always consult with the architect first if there are any questions.
9- OBTAIN BUILDING INSPECTIONS:
Upon completing different stages of construction, building inspectors are called to certify that the construction is done according to the drawings and codes. After the final inspection is passed, a new Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is obtained, if necessary.
10- BROOM-CLEAN THE NEW PLACE:
Once the place is completely clean and free of dust, you can move in to the new place.
Now that construction is complete, sit back and rejoice. Hopefully you’ll be so happy with your architect and contractor, that you’ll refer them to anyone you know.