|Houston Construction Process|
Initial Contact to us:
Contact us via whatever method you are most comfortable with, whether that is email, phone or even texting. We would be happy to hear from you on the phone but if you can also provide us with some written information first via email then it shows us that you are serious about the project you are considering. We aren't desperate contractors and don't chase every single project. We only work for happy people and are very good at keeping happy people happy.
In that first email to us please include as much information about your project as possible:
- Name, Address and Phone number (with time and day availability for meeting)
- basic project description
- budget range if possible
- photos of the existing space
- photos or sketches of what you are thinking of doing
- OR, links to websites that have ideas
Once we have communicated via email, text or on the phone we will schedule a meeting to look at your project.
We don't charge anything for this first meeting or for consultation via email. Before we get there we should already have a fairly good idea of what you want but this is where we can start giving you a few ideas (if you're willing). Remember, we're here to get you what you want, not what we think you should have. Once we have looked at it we can usually provide a really ROUGH price for your project (and sometimes we can do this without a visit as long as you provide us enough info). This is in no way an official estimate. The purpose here is to determine if you're ready to go forward with an official estimate for the project or if you would like to kick us out. Seriously, some people think they can get a room addition for 20 grand so we have to establish a rough number for you so you have realistic expectations.
If the rough number is within your ballpark then we discuss costs for your estimate.
The Estimate (we call them proposals):
Estimates for small handyman-type projects are usually free (projects typically under $2,000). Proposals for larger projects are highly detailed and take a considerable amount of time and resources to complete. Therefore, we have little choice but to charge for them. Just remember that you get what you pay for and a free estimate usually looks like a free estimate.
Larger projects require at least a simple sketch of some type so that we are on the same page. The good news is that our preliminary conceptual design costs are less than a tenth of what others may charge (check out our design/build page to learn more) Sketches can run anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on the complexity of your project. The detailed proposal will typically be a similar price range as well, based on complexity and size. A master bath might typically run in the $250 range to create a conceptual sketch and proposal. A typical room addition (16x16) might be in the $300-$400 range. These are just estimates and are subject to change. Hey, if we're sitting around bored we might be willing to do a free estimate if you're nice enough
So, you haven't kicked us out yet and you're still answering our emails. So we move on to revisions to get the proposal to contract stage.
Design and Proposal Revision:
Once you have decided that you prefer to use us as your contractor and the numbers are close in the proposal then we begin to refine all the details. The 3D sketches are refined to the point where they show all the wall colors, light switch locations, etc. We give you your own page on our website so we can go back and forth on the revisions until we get to the final contract. This page will have your proposal and design sketches as well as checklists for you as well as us. Allowances are established for items like faucets, cabinets, tile, etc.
We typically provide 1 or 2 revisions to get the contract where it needs to be for you. Extensive revisions beyond that are additional.
At this point you have to make a commitment to the contract and pay the down payment for the project. This provides you with an estimated start date and a solid price. The only prices that will change are your allowance costs. If extensive product selections or permits are involved then a solid start date is not provided until after those items are completed.
Permits and Planning:
If this is a larger project requiring a permit then this is the point the permits are applied for. This process can be anywhere from 1 week to 8 weeks, depending on the municipality controlling the permit. We are very experienced at getting our permits through quickly but since the building departments have trimmed down their personnel their turnaround times aren't as consistent as they used to be.
Now is the time to start making actual product selections to refine those allowance numbers. We try to establish very honest allowance numbers and have a reputation for being very close on them. Other contractors might quote small allowance numbers to get your contract signed but then you realize what your cabinets are really going to cost. As I said, we do our best to establish allowance numbers based on your neighborhood, your tastes as evidenced by your existing home, and the scope/nature of your project. We then provide you with an allowance worksheet so that as you begin making the actual selections you can see how close you are on those allowances. We don't charge markup on allowance items anymore. We decided it just wasn't worth the paperwork and why should we make money by selling you cabinets if we didn't build them? We make our money by installing them. However, we also offer a premium service where we meet you at each vendor and help you with those selections but we simply charge you for our time rather than tacking a percentage on to your order.
So, you meet with each vendor (we're with you if you've paid for it) and make all your selections. They give you our builder discount and you pay them directly for those items (after we've reviewed the items and make sure they are all proper for the scope of the project).
Once you've made your final selection and paid for all of them we can finalize your start date.
This is where most other companies hand off your project to someone else. Many paper contractors will farm out the work to the lowest bidder in order to maximize their returns. Houston construction utilizes the Lead Carpenter system where one person oversees your entire project, from footer to finish. You get the same team from the start of the project to the end of the project. So, you can feel confident about who is working on your home. When we need an electrician or plumber or some other tradesman to help us out then we are right there with them making sure their work is precisely up to our standards and that they behave in your home exactly the way we would.
Prior to the actual start of construction we like to get together with you one last time and go over the game plan one final time. We will discuss where we can store materials and which areas will be used for working or material staging. We'll establish the time of day you are most comfortable with us starting/stopping. We install a secure lock box with a copy of your house key so that we can gain access without you having to wait on us.
During construction we will update you nearly every day about progress or even occasionally the lack of progress. Not every day will look that productive but some things take longer than others and don't have an exciting visible result. On larger projects we typically use a communication center of some sort that allows us to leave you messages and reminders in case our paths don't cross. Smaller projects might just have notes taped to the wall but we will always try to let you know where our progress stands.
We clean up at the end of each day, putting tools away and making sure materials are neatly stacked and organized.
As the project nears completion our lead carpenter will scrutinize every detail, constantly checking his/her list to make sure that the project is up to the standards as set forth in our contract. Input is solicited from you as well and by the time we are done there is rarely any reason to return unless you didn't get your towel bars in a timely manner :)
Houston Construction - Cincinnati Ohio
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