I receive many phone calls from prospective clients who are interested in building a new home, or remodeling or adding on to the home they already have. I like that! For those of you who may be about to call, here’s the answer to your first question – Yes, the initial meeting is free. As much as I would like to, I won’t charge you to visit and discuss your potential project. Our first meeting will usually take an hour. We may meet at my office, your home or the potential building site. We will get to know each other a little bit, feel each other out, determine if we’re a good fit for the project, discuss your needs and hopes and dreams for the design of YOUR project. We’ll establish a few parameters. I might have an idea or two for a possible direction or solution. I love these meetings. They are full of promise and hope and potential. Happy times.
Often, the question of how much the project might cost will come up. My usual answer is “More than you would like.” I’m not trying to be glib, but at this point, I honestly don’t know. I’ve only spent an hour with you. I need more time and information to determine what my fees will be – based on a solid scope of work. As far as construction costs go, any cost I give you at this point is only a wild guess. The value of engaging me to prepare some preliminary design options is enormous. It will help frame the project goals, possibilities and get us closer to knowing what the costs of the project will be.
I can provide a range of general costs per square foot based on previous project experience but without a scope of work, a detailed design solution, material selections, etc, there is no way to develop an opinion of probable cost. In the end, the cost estimate and guaranteed costs will come from the contractor. These costs are almost never lower than you were hoping to pay. However, with a good, detailed design and scope of work, the construction costs will be very close to what our opinion of probable cost was – especially if we engage a builder as part of the team early on in the design process.
Initially, we will prepare preliminary design ideas, and will take a stab at providing a “ballpark opinion of cost”. Sometimes we stop there if the costs simply don’t make financial sense. As we continue to develop the design and select materials and such, our understanding of the costs will be stronger. Sometimes the expected costs increase during design development, sometimes they decrease, depending on the choices we make together. As we work together, and engage a builder as part of the team, the costs will be determined item by item and you’ll know exactly how much your project will cost. It will still probably cost more than you wanted – but you’ll be aware of the great value of each choice and decision you made during the process. And it will be your project, your dreams, your goals and your needs that are met.
Here is a link to a colleague’s blog post discussing a similar subject.
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