I have been voted *Best of Houzz 2014* for Client Satisfaction! I am SO honored!
A press release is on its way!
There are things that are worth more than money. Relationships, integrity, honesty and loyalty top my list. There are few others that share this belief. But, I have found some of those few. Together, we have formed an alliance, the Marblehead Builder’s Consortium, to share our resources and do what we love – renovating homes to enrich the people’s lives who live in them.
We are not a general contracting firm. We do not follow the traditional processes of managing home renovation projects. The homeowner comes first. Not our bottom line.
The MBC is a team of renovation professionals. We pour our hearts into our craft. Because, after all, if one’s heart is not in it, it is not worth doing.
I’m about to risk raising some eyebrows with this suggestion, but I’m going to make it anyway.
There is a simple way for homeowners to save significant sums on renovation projects. And that is, if you cannot act as your own general contractor, hire an Owner’s Project Manager (O.P.M.) to manage the project on your behalf.
Why should that raise eyebrows? Because it relieves the general contractor of that duty, and therefore also relieves him of a hefty mark-up on the subcontractors. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the function of a general contractor, especially on large and complex projects (in which case having both an O.P.M. and G.C. would be a good idea). But, on smaller projects where the G.C. may be only funneling work to the subs and there is not a lot of work for his own crew, an O.P.M. seems to make sense.
A G.C. doesn’t really want to be bothered with a bathroom renovation, for example, where there is little carpentry involved. However, some homeowners have neither the time or the inclination to be their own G.C. This is where an O.P.M. can help. An O.P.M. can organize the project, coordinate the subs, communicate between the client and subs, make decisions on behalf of the client when necessary, manage the schedule, manage the budget, and see that everything is done according to the project specifications. For this service, an O.P.M. could save a client literally thousands compared to a G.C.’s mark-up.
If you plan to give it a try, look for an experienced Construction Project Manager, preferably with a Construction Supervisor’s License and general liability insurance. Here is one resource for locating a Construction Project Manager in your area:
Don’t jump to sign a contract with the lowest bidder. Do your research. Because what you really should want is someone you can share your home with for the duration of your renovation project. Find out the following…
Does the company have a good reputation in their service area?
Do they have a wealth of happy and repeat clients?
What is their track record on completing projects on time, within budget and issuing change orders?
Is the crew respectful not only of clients and their property, but also of their neighbors?
Does the contractor have a solid team of sub-contractors with whom they work cohesively on a regular basis?
What is their average rate of call-backs for repairs, (i.e. long-term quality of craftsmanship)?
Positive answers to the above are professional virtues that should not be overlooked in favor of a lower price. If you weren’t already aware, you should know that there are contractors out there who will low ball their bid to be awarded the project with every intention of making up their financial loss with multiple change orders. (Another very good reason to have a solid project plan and specifications!)
Consider hiring the contractor with whom you feel you will gladly develop a long-term professional relationship, even if he is not the cheapest. Peace of mind and smiling faces at the end of a project are worth every penny. After all, the lowest bidder may not turn out to be a good financial investment at all.
More than once I’ve been asked whether or not it’s really necessary to hire an architect. Depending on the project scale, the straight answer is no, there may not be a need to hire an architect. But, what IS essential is a comprehensive project plan which is often times prepared by an architect, designer, or design-build contractor. The project plan includes specific details on the entire project scope from beginning to end.
When details are not clearly defined, the likelihood of problems is almost guaranteed. The first problems arise when the contractor must make assumptions on certain details in order to provide a cost estimate or leave those details out of the cost estimate altogether. Either scenario invites the potential for costly change orders and added time to the project schedule, both of which result in heavier stress on all sides. We all know that elevated stress levels create a breeding ground for conflict, therefore leading to further issues.
Take the time to clearly define the project plan with all of the details specified. Estimate the cost as accurately as possible and set a target completion date. It will save you money and plenty of headache medicine in the end. After all, don’t you want to enjoy your investment when it is done instead of being reminded of all the anxiety it caused?
One of my most exciting projects yet got underway today – a Victorian cupola renovation! It is a very small space, but will be so elegant once it is complete with its many custom features.
With a new spiral stair that ascends among built-in bookcases and a glass enclosed display case, one will walk up underneath the glass top of a coffee table before arriving at the cupola level. Through the new windows a peekaboo view of the Atlantic Ocean can be viewed while relaxing on the curved, custom-built cushioned seating in the cupola. A maple laptop desk will be custom-milled as well, following the curve of the seating and extending the flowing lines of the spiral into the space. This flow along with a glass railing and the previously mentioned glass tabletop help lend a more open feeling in the space. The vaulted ceiling will be finished with stained beadboard and illuminated with LED strip lighting behind a cove at the top perimeter of the walls.
Check out the plans at my Houzz website! I will be posting progress photos as it takes shape!