Every year, a variety of construction-oriented periodicals publish the per-square-foot price of building a new home of a specific caliber in a specific region. With prices ranging from $200–$500 per square foot, it’s easy for the owners of existing homes to translate that equation to their own remodeling job and think, “Well, my bathroom is only 35 square feet so that means I should be able to remodel it for between $7,000 and $17,500.00!” In point-of-fact, per-square-foot pricing is not a relevant benchmark for remodeling because it does not take three very important factors into consideration;
- Demolition and rubbish removal – not necessary in new construction – costs money. Before beginning the project, the existing space must be stripped of all the fittings, fixtures, sheetrock, insulation, flooring, etc. Those materials must then be removed from the home (taking care not to dirty or damage the walls and floors of adjacent, uninvolved rooms) and disposed of.
- Tying in to old work is more labor-intensive than installing all new work. Imagine an electrician installing recessed lights in a house that is currently under construction – all of the joists are visible and wiring is simply stapled up in clean straight runs to the electrical panel which is completely accessible. Compare this to installing the same lights in a pre-existing, plastered ceiling – to place a light, a hole is cut in the plaster. If a joist is revealed, a new hole must be cut and the other hole patched over. Wires must be “fished” across closed ceilings and down sheetrocked walls to reach the electrical panel. This comparison holds true for almost every phase of a remodeling project from excavation to pouring a foundation to framing to flooring to painting.
- In new construction, the “big-ticket” items like plumbing and electrical are averaged over the square footage of the entire house. The plumbing for a kitchen and two and a half bathrooms is very expensive but is averaged over 2500 square feet. When a home is being remodeled, that same work is often averaged over only a tenth of the square footage.
Purchasing a Design/Build project is more like buying a car than a list of groceries. When you buy a car, the “base-price” includes everything you need to be able to drive it off the lot and operate it safely. You do not have separate prices for the engine, the rearview mirror, the windshield, etc. You may, however, select “packages” to upgrade the vehicle in a variety of ways – special rims, sound systems, leather trim, etc. We handle the design of our clients’ projects much the same way. If we’re developing a kitchen project we will come back to the client with a “base-price” for the kitchen – all the demolition, rubbish-removal, framing, plumbing, electrical work, HVAC work, insulation, sheetrock, flooring, cabinetry, countertops… (the list goes on and on) required to create a beautiful, functional kitchen that will meet the needs identified by the client during the Goals Assessment. Then, if our clients want to know, “How much more would it be if we wanted cherry cabinets instead of maple?” or “How much would we save if don’t replace the window?,” those options are priced out as Upgrades and/or Savings Options.
Blackdog prices its projects to produce a 10% net profit which is used to grow the company.
There are three circumstances under which a client may end up paying more for their project than is listed in their contract;
- The single biggest contributor to projects costing more than originally anticipated is client-driven change orders… “While they’re here, maybe we should have them change out that window in the bathroom…” We get a lot of those.
- Unforeseen conditions. Sadly, we do not have x-ray vision. Until a space is gutted open, we cannot know about the rotted sill or the termite infestation or the improperly vented drain-line. When we discover those things, it is our legal obligation to bring them to the attention of our clients. If additional work is needed to correct the situation, a change order will be written and presented to the client for consideration before proceeding.
- “Escalation” refers to a sudden, unforeseeable and dramatic increase in the cost of a commodity-type product due to circumstances beyond our control. Such occurrences are rare but well-documented; a few years ago, the cost of plywood doubled in the space of a few days due to Hurricane Katrina. Under such circumstances, we are forced to share the burden of the added expense with our clients.
With the exception of the aforementioned items, Blackdog fervently holds to its quoted pricing and assumes responsibility for an accurate and thoughtful assessment of every project from its inception to its completion.