I am a firm advocate of getting a preliminary construction cost estimate as early on in the design process as possible. As an estimator, too many times have I been in the position of having to deliver the bad news that the clients have paid their architect thousands of dollars for a design that is way over their budget to construct. Yes, there have even been tears shed over such news. Imagine having to offer condolences for a dead project, share longer-than-comfortable hugs and then drive your suit jacket straight to the dry-cleaners to remove the tears and nasal drool from your shoulder.
But, that all can be avoided so easily! In the ideal situation, which unfortunately does not happen often enough, a client will select their contractor in the project planning stages to work as a team with the designer. Even if that doesn’t happen, it is still possible to solicit preliminary bids from contractors when schematic drawings are available. The preliminary estimate will help guide the design in line with the project budget, and will hopefully guide the clients in selecting a contractor to join the team early on.
This strategy has proven very successful for me in helping clients be more at ease through the entire project. Remodeling is considered one of the most stressful events people can endure. If something as simple as a preliminary cost estimate can help ease that stress, I am all for it, and you should be, too!