News articles written about Pekel Construction and Remodeling
Doing the math... Estimating remodeling
costs is a challenging task. Seeking professional assistance can smooth the
The complexity of the estimating process is one reason the National Association for the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends involving an experienced building contractor or certified remodeler (CR) early in the planning and design stages. They suggest you work with that professional to establish specific costs and help stay within budget. With so many types of products available today, it is impossible to accurately 'guesstimate' costs," says Kent Eberle, CR, of Eberle Remodeling in Sacramento, California. "Any contractor who gives you some quick figures isn't being honest. Only when a design is fully completed, all materials and products selected, and a detailed estimate performed can exact costs be determined." There are, however, steps the homeowner can take before hiring a contractor-and subsequently during the preliminary design process-to help get a better handle on roughly what the addition will cost.
Gathering Information A good informal way to assess whether the budget is realistic for the scope of the project, suggests architect Roger Kohler, of Kohler Associates in Palo Alto, California, is to conduct a "comparative cost analysis" by talking with friends and neighbors who have added on within the last year or so. 'Of course, no two jobs are alike, but it's useful to see what materials or products they chose, what they cost, and what the total square foot costs were;" he remarks. "An addition is essentially new construction, so you can also use square foot figures for a new house in your area to get an idea."
Another useful exercise for rough estimating is to develop a series of worksheets. One sheet, for instance, might outline general project costs such as construction costs per square foot, consultant fees, and financing cost. A second worksheet might be devoted to materials or products, another to finishes. "Regardless of an addition's size or 'fanciness' some things are consistent, such as framing or insulating costs," says Shawn McCadden, CR, of the Boston-area firm, Custom Contracting. "But when it comes to finishes, it's a whole new ball park. "In fact, Eberle routinely provides his clients with a product-selection sheet during the design phase, urging them to make decisions on everything from the type of floor covering and baseboards to the style of cabinet knobs. "Remodeling is about details, lots and lots of details," he explains. "The more information we have, the more we can spell out in the estimate."
Yet another choice is to go online and consult home-improvement Web sites. Most have some type of estimating program for materials and products. It's fairly simple to calculate how much drywall a family room might require or to look up the cost of a window in a standard style and size. But what about a family room with plastered walls or a curved bay, which might require customized windows? "There are some good product lists on the Web to assist you," McCadden says, "but it's much harder to pin down figures on finishes." He cautions that some sites have conflicting estimates within their own pages.
McCadden sees another advantage to working with a contractor from the outset to help figure costs. "Even for a remodeler, it takes several years to gather the experience to make accurate estimates," he observes. "I think it's much more valuable for the homeowner to see what goes into the process and to monitor it rather than to try to do the estimating on his or her own, especially if capability or time is an issue."- Christina Nelson