There is a new way to make wonderful improvements to your home, and at a lower cost. It is the same way those of us in the industry do it, we manage the project ourselves by being an Owner Builder.
The term Owner Builder is used to describe homeowners who manage a project themselves without hiring a builder or general contractor. This is a form of Do It Yourself, except that you do not have to do ANY of the actual work yourself to save a lot of money. Savvy homeowners choose this option to avoid the 30% to 50% markup added to the bids of builders and general contractors for their overhead and profit. When you do a project yourself as an Owner Builder, you pocket that entire markup!
Being an Owner Builder will be MUCH easier if you have some professional guidance. Owner Assist Remodeling is the only company whose specialty is in-home remodel consulting for the DIY minded homeowner. For over 30 years we’ve been building and remodeling homes, and have developed proven systems that will empower you to manage a home improvement or remodeling project far larger and more complicated than what you think are your current abilities.
Being an Owner Builder is beginning to become more and more popular. We started Owner Assist Remodeling to give homeowners the proper guidance, tools and assistance you need to act as your own general contractor for ANY home remodeling or building project. You’ll get the most professional result possible by using our Project Planning and Construction Management Services, and you’ll keep the builder’s markup and profits in your pocket as you upgrade your home.
You’ll get expert project planning and design assistance, including ballpark cost estimates of the improvements you are considering even before plans are drawn! Once the work is fully planned and priced, we will schedule the work, manage the workers and check their work for quality on your behalf. Our construction management services are second to none. You’ll be using prescreened, highly qualified tradespeople, and you can even do some of the work yourself if you have the abilities. You’ll use the same proven step by step planning that the best design-build general contractors use for successful projects, and we’ll be there to guide you through the process and keep you on track every step of the way.
To help you compare costs, we encourage you to get a couple bids from local contractors and bring those to our initial meeting. We’ll help you compare the bids at no charge, and show you how we can help you increase the quality of your project, and save money at the same time.
We look forward to working with you on your next home improvement or building project!
Where Do I Start? What Type of Company or Person Should I Look For to Help Me?
Undertaking a basement finish can be a daunting task. Finding the right professionals to help you through the process can greatly reduce the stress on both you and your family. Even if you want to try a Do-It-Yourself project, there are professionals that can help.
Do I Start With an Architect, a General Contractor, Or Someone Else?
This is a common initial question for many homeowners. Certainly, the plan or design is one of the first and most important steps to a professional result, and an architect can be a good choice for preparing your home remodel plans, but there are reasons why you may want to consult with a contractor or other construction professional first.
- Beginning your planning with an architect may lead you to a design you cannot afford.
- An architect may only design a few basements per year, but there are other experts available who focus exclusively on basements.
- Any construction-type guy will tell you he can design a basement, but you may get just a basic, white-box finish. Other contractors may have people on staff to do your design for much lower cost than hiring an architect.
Are There Options Other Than Hiring a Basement Finishing Company (i.e. a General Contractor)?
YES! Some homeowners choose to finish their own basements, which can be very rewarding and save a lot of money, but also can be overwhelming and with less-than-desired results.
Another option is to DIY with the help of an experienced construction planner and construction manager. DIY does not mean you have to do any or all the actual work yourself. Hiring a project planner and construction manager to assist you with hiring and managing individual trade contractors will alleviate problems and get you the same professional results as using the best basement finishing companies, but at a reduced cost. Your DIY responsibilities will be just to play the role of GC, pay for materials and the trade contractors invoices, and work closely with your project manager to answer questions that might come up.
There’s a lot to do when you’re planning your own DIY project, and a good construction planner and manager will help you every step of the way. In general, these are 4 steps to a successful basement finish:
1. Create a Plan
The best designers try a couple different configurations for the basement, with public space nearest the stair and private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms farthest from the stair. Bath plumbing rough-ins can be moved, so don’t feel you are locked into where a builder placed the underground bathroom rough-in.
Design items such as angled walls, coffered ceilings, arches and niches will make the space much more interesting. Bar areas, home theaters, workout rooms, and a wine cellar will add value to your home.
2. Get Bids and Pick Your Contractors
Our industry connections help us get you the best contractors, each one specializing in a relevant area of expertise for your basement renovation. Below is a list of just some of the factors to consider when selecting contractors.
Credentials and experience
Experience matters, and not just years of experience in construction, but years of experience doing EXACTLY what you need. A specialist will always get you better results than someone who only occasionally does any particular construction task.
Price, expertise, and quality
Shopping based only on price will usually lead to disappointment, but you don’t want to pay too much either. So how do you know what you are looking at? The common suggestion is to get 3 bids. This is a good start, but how is anyone supposed to know what company is the best fit and who to trust and believe?
Be aware while you’re searching that larger companies will generally be more expensive, but should give you better service, while smaller companies are cheaper but generally carry more risks, such as lack of expertise at design, subpar workmanship, or lack of proper insurances (both contractor liability and workman’s compensation). Decide up front which business model you feel fits your needs, then look for the best contractors of that type.
Some contractors will show you line item costs, but most will not. In most cases, they do not want you to know what their costs are and how much they are making. Some companies mark up their costs by 30 to 50% or more! If you care about how much you are paying, the more transparency the better.
A personal connection
Meeting a contractor who is also a nice guy does matter, but many “nice guys” are lacking in expertise. It’s important to make sure your contractor has a great work ethic and lots of experience to go along with his or her great personality.
Most homeowners are afraid of revealing their budget for fear of being taken advantage of. This is a very real concern, unfortunately, as there are some unscrupulous contractors out there. You might be best to ask first, “what is a ballpark cost range for my type of project”, then let the contractor speak and see if his range fits your budget. You could make a comment such as, “I’ve heard this can cost $30,000 to $40,000” and judge his reaction to your price range.
From the contractor side, they need to find out if you are realistic about the cost of what you need done, and whether they can make it happen for a budget you can afford. In some cases, speaking in wide ranges can help get past this discussion.
3. Execute Agreements and Get a Thorough Scope of Work
You need to know exactly what you are getting, what it will cost, and how you will be billed. An important aspect is to not get too far ahead in payments. You probably will be asked to pay enough to cover materials in advance, but getting too far ahead in labor payments can be a big problem if you find out later you’ve made a bad choice in contractors.
If you are getting a firm bid, you need to know exactly what is included. And no matter what, you want everything you asked for to be written down so that there is no gray area later. Some contractors do not create a scope of work while others feel it is as important as the agreement. Ask this question before you select your contractor.
4. Begin the Work, Ongoing Scheduling, and Management
Finally, after all of this planning, you’re able to begin remodeling your basement. It’s especially important at this point to make sure that your project is scheduled and managed correctly so you don’t have contractors stepping on each other’s toes as they’re trying to work.
You also need to consider the order in which your work is done. After all, you don’t want to have to pull off sheetrock you just put up to run some wires or pipes that you forgot about. Each step needs to be completed in the correct order and on schedule to make sure the whole project stays within budget and completes on time. An expert construction manager will keep the work moving forward every day, and will check that each step of the work is 100% complete and meets quality standards.
Pick the Better Option
When you’re ready to remodel your basement, don’t feel like you have to either do it all yourself or give away control to a general contractor. Working with a construction planner and manager, you can get the best of both worlds, combining the low cost of a DIY project with the amazing results of a hiring a professional. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help with your next renovation.
You’re picturing a major home renovation: a remodel of your home, perhaps, or a new room addition. It may be tempting to jump straight in and get started, but remember that home improvement projects can quickly go awry without proper planning. Before you begin, make sure to ask yourself these key questions to help keep your project on time and within the budget.
Does a Home Addition or Large Remodel Make Sense for Your Family?
If you’re thinking about a large remodeling project, consider the potential it has to impact your family and whether or not this is the best decision you could make. You may, for example, need to consider:
Is it best for my family to remodel, or to sell and move? Selling your current home and moving into a larger one may be a better financial fit for your needs. You may also find that the mess and trouble of remodeling doesn’t work well for your family. On the other hand, if you’re very attached to your neighborhood or home, you may find that a remodeling project makes more sense than a big move.
Does the cost fit my budget? Before you begin your remodeling project, make sure you have a solid estimate of what it will cost. Can you afford this major change to your home, or should you start with a smaller project and continue making improvements over time?
Does the investment make sense? What does your home’s current value look like? Compare it to other homes in your neighborhood and you may find that a home renovation may not have the effect on your home’s value that you’re hoping for. If you’re not sure, consult a local realtor about home values and whether or not it makes sense to spend the cost of making improvements on your home.
Who Can Help With Planning and Making Decisions?
Planning a home renovation is a big task, and probably not one you want to do on your own. It can be difficult to decide who to trust and many people aren’t sure where to start with their home renovation efforts. Fortunately, a home remodel planner and project manager from Owner Assist Remodeling can make it easier to plan your big renovation. By working with a home remodel planner and a project manager, you can get a better idea of the cost associated with your remodeling project, learn more about providers in the area, and make wise choices that will help you create a better home for your family.
What Are Your Options for Design and Plans?
There are several ways you can decide on the design for your remodeling project and develop a more effective plan. You may want to use an architect to design and a general contractor to build your home addition, or you might choose to opt for a design consultant. Owner Assist Remodeling handles project planning and design, which can help you stay on budget and create a design that better fits your desires and the future needs of your family. Not only that, a design consultant can help you better understand exactly what you want from your available space, which will allow you to enjoy your remodel even more.
How Do You Avoid Paying Too Much?
Embarking on a home renovation project can be very expensive. In most cases, you want to avoid spending too much on your project. Using a design consultant from Owner Assist Remodeling can help you save money on your renovation project with several different strategies including:
- Planning out your entire renovation project ahead of time so that you won’t need to make expensive changes in the middle of the project.
- Partnering with local businesses to acquire discounts on important materials and services throughout the project.
- Providing a good balance between quality and expense, so that you don’t end up with inadequate materials that need to be replaced quickly, but also don’t overspend on unnecessarily expensive materials.
- Setting a budget for your project that fits your financial needs, rather than trying to pressure you to go beyond your budget.
- Letting you do the project as an Owner Builder, using a project manager instead of a general contractor.
- Allowing you to do some of the necessary work yourself, saving you money on your overall project costs. Most general contractors won’t allow you to do any of the building yourself, but when you do the project as an Owner Builder through Owner Assist Remodeling, you’ll be able to complete those pieces of the project yourself, according to your needs and desires.
Is It Necessary to Use a General Contractor?
Using a general contractor for your construction project isn’t the only option! Using a project manager can help reduce your costs and create a better final result for your renovation. In fact, a project manager may be a better choice for most owner remodeling projects. A general contractor shouldn’t be the most essential part of your home remodel or addition project. Instead, look for a project manager who will allow you to do the project your way!
Are you ready to embark on a home remodeling project that will help reshape your home to your needs? Whether you need more space to fit a growing family or are simply hoping to add more room for leisure and enjoyment within your home, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help save you money on your home remodeling project, stick to your budget, and improve your home so that you’ll fall in love with it all over again.