Before You Remodel Do Your Homework!

It’s hard to work without the correct tools. Few of us would ever dream of starting any project without having all tools at hand, even fewer would plan a project without having the correct homework done to assure success and completion. That is why I am often surprised by the number of architects and designers that encourage homeowners to move forward with design without getting all of the recommended reports to ensure success. When building a home, renovating a home or adding an addition to your home, it is important to know what you are working with and what you are building on!

Often, we receive plans from people with terrific designs and the requests for budgets to meet those designs. What we find all too often is that the plans do not have structural drawings that fully encompass the scope of work or a complete lack of soils reports from a soils engineer. For those that do not know, let me explain this to you a bit more. When building, there is always a need for a solid foundation; this foundation is designed by a structural engineer whose schooling and education allows them to determine the safest and strongest foundation to build the projected design on. However, often owners or their consultants, in an effort to save a few bucks, choose not to get a soils report. A good foundation is only as good as the foundation of earth that it is sitting on. Often we are asked to build and have a review with the soils engineer after excavation but prior to building the foundation.

When there is no soils report prior to planning, 100% of the time we are required by the engineer (whose liability is on the project) to excavate deeper and build bigger. This immediately changes the scope of work, the budget and the timelines. So, rather than saving money by not paying for the report ahead of time, we are now forced to spend more money and the entire project is delayed. If these reports are provided prior to design, the structural engineer can accurately design, and a contractor can accurately estimate the project. When working with many different parties on this process, a lot slips through the cracks and expenses add up for every new “expert”.

With the Design-Build process, all parts are working as one with a common goal of budget consciousness, time consciousness and an outcome that all parties are proud of. Whether working with an architect, acting as owner-builder or hiring a Design Build Firm, do yourself a huge favor and order all of the appropriate reports to know what you are working with. You would much rather know before you contract for hundreds of thousands of dollars that there is a problem, rather than find out after your house is torn open and your backyard is excavated.

Donna J. Seymour