Arnone Building Building and Remodeling Inc. https://arnonebuilding.com Building and Remodeling Inc. Mon, 20 Apr 2020 14:50:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://arnonebuilding.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Arnone Building Building and Remodeling Inc. https://arnonebuilding.com 32 32 Home Improvement Registration Process and Credentials to become a Self-Employed Contractor https://arnonebuilding.com/home-improvement-registration-process-and-credentials/ https://arnonebuilding.com/home-improvement-registration-process-and-credentials/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 19:13:17 +0000 https://arnonebuilding.com/?p=750 Even a properly licensed home improvement contractor may not be experienced , skilled or qualified ! As a licensed home improvement contractor, I understand the required credentials in becoming one. Once you understand these credentials , I urge you to use all necessary precautions and research on who you’ll hire. This decision will affect the…

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Even a properly licensed home improvement contractor may not be experienced , skilled or qualified !

As a licensed home improvement contractor, I understand the required credentials in becoming one. Once you understand these credentials , I urge you to use all necessary precautions and research on who you’ll hire. This decision will affect the outcome , ranging from your satisfaction to unnecessary stress and expense.

Home improvement contractors are extremely high in the ranking of customer complaints and that’s mainly because of “The Present Flawed System “ of becoming a self-employed Home Improvement contractor.

First a little background ……

Home Improvement Contractors are technically Registered and not Licensed by the State of Connecticut. Home improvement contractors consist of a variety of different professionals such as carpentry, painting, landscaping, installing insulation, paving driveways, erecting fences, installing swimming pools, waterproofing ,siding, roofing, etc.

In contrast ,electricians, plumbers & heating & cooling contractors are Licensed by the State of Connecticut.

Illustrated below are the different credentials and journey in becoming Licensed vs. Registered

The Credentials / Journey to become a self-employed Electrician, Plumber, Heating & Cooling Contractor (Licensed)

  • Stage 1 Start as an apprentice, need a total of 8,000 supervised / documented hours of on job training plus either 720 documented hours of Night School Class or go to at least 2 years of Technical High School and pass.
  • Stage 2 Once obtained, take a 6-hour written exam conducted by the State of Connecticut.
  • Stage 3 If you pass exam, you earn an E-2 license (Electrician), P-2 license (Plumber), etc. Still an employee, however no longer needs supervision.
  • Stage 4 Need additional 4,000 documented hours of advance training.
  • Stage 5 Once obtained, take a 6-hour written exam conducted by the State of Connecticut.
  • Stage 6 If you pass, you earned a license in your profession, either an E-1 for Electrician , P-1 for plumber, etc. This entitles you to be self- employed if you wish.
  • Stage 7 to Infinity (yearly) Enroll in a 7-hour class conducted by the State of Connecticut ( refresher course, new codes). If you fail to attend, you will lose your license.
    Total required training / experience involved to become self-employed is equivalent to working 40 hours a week for almost 4 straight years, however usually stretched out longer.
    Note , each State may vary in protocol , please check yours.

The Credentials / Journey to become a self-employed Home Improvement Contractor (Registered)

  • Stage 1 Fill out a form and pay a fee. No minimum hours of training required, no test, no skills, no knowledge required.
    Minimum required training / experience involved to become self-employed could be equivalent to the time it takes to fill out application form ( 15 minutes )
    Note , each State may vary in protocol, please check yours.

A shocking difference in the process , isn’t it ? ! .Exposing that all home improvement contractors don’t have the necessary skills, knowledge nor experience in possibly some or all types of home improvement projects, which is an assumption that many, many homeowners presume they do.

Many, many individuals with a limited amount of home improvement experience that are either unemployed , laid off or were fired from either this profession or an entirely different profession can easily obtain a Home Improvement registration to become self-employed.

In contrast, if an apprentice plumber, electrician, heating & cooling person was either laid off, unemployed or was fired, the same with a much skilled / knowledgeable person with a E2 or P2 license , they will not be able to work in the field as a self-employed contractor without first completing all six stages of their journey mentioned above .

The following examples can / do occur due to the process of being a self-employed home improvement contractor

  1. They inform homeowner they have for example a total of 10 years of experience , however since the time prior to being self-employed is not documented , it’s questionable.
  2. They inform homeowner they have for example a total of 10 years of experience ( which is actually true ) however may have little or no experience in the type of project you want done.
  3. Besides the ease of becoming a self-employed Home Improvement contractor it’s also an attraction to become one , even self-acknowledging they’re not fully experienced nor properly / fully trained . The reason being is “ Money “ , for example , they were recently worth / making $ 15.00 an hour as an employee , now becoming self-employed , they can in theory double / triple their hourly wage and still under-cut established Home Improvement Contractors and care less about the homeowner’s concerns / expeditions.

Understanding that being a self-employed home improvement contractor is easily obtained , should remind you to look into the business’s background / history and request / check references.

I have interviewed thousands of carpenters in the almost half a century of being in business when needing to hire additional employees . Some candidates being self-employed , either in the past or currently. I would like to share with you on what I’ve observed regarding ones that obtained a Home Improvement Registration. When interviewing these candidates, the first question I ask is “ Home many years of Knowledge do you have”. At first their puzzled , because I replaced the word “Knowledge” with the word they expected me to save which is “Experience . I do this because someone can truly have 20 years of experience however only 8 years of knowledge, the same , someone can truly have 8 years of experience however 20 years of knowledge. The variations are based on , 1) If they were properly trained . 2) If they retain information. 3) If they are dedicated and a smart worker. My objective is not to be misled by hiring an over-rated person that’s not capable of either performing the work they state they can do or not being productive for the wage they say they want. Usually all candidates applying for employment misrepresent themselves in enhancing their total years of experience. They’ll include the time they were not working ,fired , laid off , unemployed , not busy or in a different profession. The worst individuals are the ones that their total experience time is almost equivalent to the amount of time being self-employed, meaning they were self -taught , thus never properly trained , translating to wasted time due to not being knowledgeable or skilled in procedure and production. During my interview I’ll ask them their procedure in a variety of task to evaluate if they think and work productively or not. Also, I’ll ask , and if they say yes , they know how to tape drywall , can lay-out roof rafters ,stair stringers, etc. I’ll actually hand them the tools to perform this work to determine if in-fact they have the skills to do so. By the end of our interview or some call it an interrogation , I’m able to determine their worth and potential and know if I would be interested in hiring them.

You the homeowner now knowing the ease of being a self-employed home improvement contractor ( HIC ) & now knowing there’s an assortment of trades associated with this title I recommend you read another blog of mine “Top 10 scams in Home Improvements with solutions” to help you distinguish from truth and fiction of any potential person your considering hiring for your project.

Thank you , John Arnone

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Top 10 Scams in Home Improvements With Solutions https://arnonebuilding.com/top-10-scams-in-home-improvements-with-solutions/ https://arnonebuilding.com/top-10-scams-in-home-improvements-with-solutions/#respond Sun, 22 Dec 2019 14:25:07 +0000 https://arnonebuilding.com/?p=714 Unfortunately, some home improvement companies and contractors scam customers for their own benefit.  Be aware and avoid scams by reading our top 10 scams in home improvement and the solutions for how to avoid the scam. Scam #1: Not Being Properly Insured The Deception of lying, being reckless, unconcerned and thoughtless and burdening you with…

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Unfortunately, some home improvement companies and contractors scam customers for their own benefit.  Be aware and avoid scams by reading our top 10 scams in home improvement and the solutions for how to avoid the scam.

Scam #1: Not Being Properly Insured

The Deception of lying, being reckless, unconcerned and thoughtless and burdening you with the consequences and liability should seriously bodily injury or property damage occur.

  • Reality: These Ct home improvement contractors will initially present a business card / stationary stating their insured and hope this is adequate proof. If homeowner persists the uninsured Ct home improvement contractor will initially ignore request or state it’s being mailed or some other excuse hoping you either forget or you’re seduced with a cheap bid. The other scenario is they actually provide you a copy of their insurance policy, however is it valid?
  • Solution: If any Ct home improvement contractor doesn’t provide proof of insurance then dismiss them. When any Ct home improvement company hands you a copy of their insurance policy you still must confirm by calling the insurance company. Any contractor can hand you a certificate illustrating up-to-date coverage however be invalid for prior non-payment. Make sure policy includes both “workers compensation “& “general liability “coverage. Note, if owner of home improvement company states “I’m not required to have workers compensation coverage because of no employees “. This is a false statement. Once you decide which confirmed / insured Ct contractor to hire and before signing contract once again call insurance company and request another copy of coverage with you being named on the policy as an “Interested Party”. This would entitle you to receive notice during duration of remodeling project should this policy be altered or cancelled due to non-payment or none renewal.

Scam #2: Not Being Properly Licensed  

The Deception of lying, being reckless, unconcerned and burdening you with the consequences of shoddy work and monetary expenses.

  • Reality: Any work performed by an unlicensed contractor is subject to be build improper especially when a permit was not obtained or rendered work will later to be subject to be partially dismantled to assure concealed work met building codes or worse, rendered work later to be totally demolished due to zoning violations.
  • Solution: Confirm this Ct home improvement company is licensed by first requesting a copy of their Ct home improvement license (illustrates registration number, contractors name & address, effective and expiration date). Note, the State of Ct supplies a wallet size license and its State law that it must be in contractor’s procession and must be shown upon request. I would request to view both the wallet size home improvement license and motor vehicle driver’s license to confirm same name & address appears on both documents and driver’s license photo matches this person. Second, contact either or both, Ct BBB & Department of Consumer Protection to confirm authenticity of home improvement license and if still valid.

Scam #3: Amount of Experience

The Deception is their skilled, experienced & knowledgeable in their profession. They’ll tell you and have it displayed on their business cards, stationary, web site & truck.

  • Reality: The word “Experienced “is subjective and could be exaggerated or you can be misled. A Ct home improvement contractors interpretation differs from homeowners. Homeowner’s perception is being qualified, skilled and knowledgeable. A contractor’s perception is calculated only in “Years “with a bias opinion of themselves. Contractors will include their “experienced time “when laid off, unemployed, collecting unemployment, in a different profession or worse, incarcerated. Also, a home improvement license covers many other occupations besides carpentry, such as painting, landscaping, paving, fences, insulation, swimming pools, roofs, etc. For example, a contractor can tell you they have 30 years of experience in the Home Improvement industry (All true), yet didn’t perform the work / project your requesting.
  • Solution: Make a non-bias decision by evaluating these Ct home improvement contractors during initial meeting   (presentation, knowledge, thoroughness, demeanor, professionalism). Evaluate contents of proposal (detailed, vague or none), compare with other candidates. Make notes on omissions. Evaluate response time when requesting documents (insurance policy, copy of license, list of references). Evaluate promptness in responding to e-mails, questions and your concerns. Remember the amount of experience a Ct home improvement contractor states is only “Talk”.  For example, a contractor with 8 years of experience could be more skilled & knowledgeable then another with 30 years of experience.

Scam #4: Shady or Falsifying References

The Deception is lying and misleading you into thinking their experienced, skilled and capable of performing your specific home improvement project.

  • Reality: The old premise, contractor is in control by supplying 3 random references of their choice, however this method is flawed. Any company with an extremely low satisfaction record (7 unsatisfied customers out of 10) can still supply 3 satisfied references. If not, give you names of their friends / relatives.  Your objective is to know what there’re not divulging.
  • Solution: To establish the true identity of any Ct home improvement contractors performance “YOU” must control and establish guidelines. Dismiss any contractor that doesn’t supply references. Specifically ask all prospective companies for a least 3 references that are recent and similar to your type of project. In other words, don’t accept deck, window, and roofing or small handyman references if you’re considering building an addition, remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. Also specifically ask all prospective companies for the last 10 projects they performed, including name, contact number, approximate date and description of work. You’re objective is to establish their “Profile” such as type of projects their accustomed and familiar in doing (or lack of doing) along with the volume of work they performed (or lack of work). If you realize most or all of these last 10 jobs performed were roofing or building decks , than I would  be skeptical about them building your addition or remodeling your kitchen or bathroom. Or if these 10 last references were many months apart, then contractor is either omitting names because homeowner was displeased or company not busy, both discouraging reason. If you’re constructing an addition thus request addition references, once you receive them and before calling references, you should ask contractor for a copy of the Building Permit. This will confirm that this particular contractor did this particular addition because all Building Permits illustrate date, type of work & company name. Don’t make the mistake of not calling references because you assume they must be happy if supplied by contractor. A contractor may consider a customer pleased if the job was completed and they were paid in full. However a customer could have been intimidated thus “bit their tongue”, however still willing to divulge issues contractor was oblivious to.

Scam #5: Contract Language

The Deception of not protecting homeowners “best interest”.

  • Reality:  Contractor being author of contract, thus has a great advantage such as , requesting a large deposit, structuring payments so money received well exceeds value of work rendered , final payment being a minimal amount and payments due upon the “ starting “ of a phase.
  • Solution:   Prior to scheduling a meeting to sign contract request a copy of contract prior, enabling you sufficient time to carefully read and understand all specifications and terms. Make notations on omissions previously promised or you expected included. Request changes to terms you don’t agree on, for example, payments due upon “completion” of a phase and not “starting” of a phase. A contractor can start a variety of different phases and complete none. Also request a larger final payment amount, an incentive for either contractor to finish or enough funds remaining to hire another contractor to complete unfinished work. Also request final payment is due upon Town Building Inspectors approving final inspection (if a permit was required). Also have language in contract stating “All new work will be done to code”, this will protect you from paying additional money beyond the contract price if upgrades in materials are required. For example, the contractor can state in contract that their supplying 2” x 8” floor joist, 2” x 6 ceiling joist, R-15 insulation in exterior walls , etc. , however when contractor applies for permit and once Building Inspector views plans informs contractor of errors of either undersized material or omissions of materials.  Thus the added Language of “ All new work will be done to code “ will supersede the sizes mentioned in contract along with omissions.

Scam #6: Additional Work 

An Unethical opportunity to make a windfall of money by overcharging.

  • Reality: Additional work occurs by either homeowner requesting additional work as the project proceeds along or when unforeseen problems / issues are exposed. Your contractor has the opportunity / advantage to charge a lot more than normal because they have leverage knowing they have no competition.
  • Solution: During your gathering of bids from all prospective contractors request a separate price on each “Wish List” item you may consider doing while the project is in progress. This could be skylights, extra lighting, a deck, installing oak flooring instead of carpet, etc. You’re objective is to “Lock In” the cost. Since the homeowner has the leverage prior to committing to a contractor and signing a contract, bids will be more reasonable. In regards to controlling the expense when “unforeseen “problems occur. My advice , if possible is try to anticipate problems, for example if you received a bid to strip your roof and install new roof shingles , get a square foot cost of replacing plywood should it be found to be rotten / damaged. I do understand the possibilities are endless and the best advice I can offer is deal with an honest, reputable, established Ct remodeling company.

Scam #7: Low Balling Bid

The Deception by this Ct home improvement company is the pretext you’re receiving a great price”

  • Reality:  Quote is intentionally less expensive compared to others because of omissions, inferior material and ambiguous wording giving false assumptions.
  • Solution: Request a detailed written proposal, don’t accept verbal quotes. A detailed proposal should specifically describe each piece of material or merchandise opposed to just a generic description. A detailed proposal should include and specify a generous “Allowance Amount” on any merchandise homeowner must select, such as carpet, electrical fixtures, laminate flooring, tub, toilet, tile, vanity, medicine cabinet, faucets, etc. opposed to contactor supplying the lease expensive choices. A solution is for homeowner to place a monetary allowance amount on all these items that fluctuate in price and inform contractors so each contractor is quoting “Apples to Apples “.  If homeowner is uncertain then have the first visiting contractor set the allowances amounts. There are other materials most likely needed that vary in price, some as much as a 40 % difference in cost. Both options do meet building code; however the less expensive items selected by contractor will make their quote more attractive however in reality you’re getting an inferior product. Examples are wall & floor sheathing ($25.00 a sheet for plywood or $13.00 a sheet for wafer board), roof shingles (with a 20 year warranty or a 35 year warranty.), vinyl siding & gutters (difference gauge thickness), windows & exterior door, etc.   Compare all proposals , look for omissions, don’t assume all Ct home improvement contractors are supplying the same services , examples are dumpster rental, portal toilet rental, permits, being insured & licensed, lawn repair if excavating for an addition along with heavy equipment driving on lawn, etc. Also, a detailed proposal should include a list of items not included thus avoiding any assumptions.

Scam #8: Charging What Sounds Like a Reasonable Hourly Wage

The Deception by this Ct home improvement contractor is the pretext you’re receiving a discounted price thus saving money. For example, charging you $30.00 per hour opposed to the professional standards of $ 55.00 per hour or more.

  • Reality: It’s possible your overall cost could be more expensive, even with a bargain sounding $ 35.00 per hour charge. This contractor / carpenter can be unproductive due to lack of knowledge, skills, experience & leadership qualities thus take 3 times longer to complete project. These deficiencies translate to you actually paying $ 105.00 per hour opposed to the professional standard of $ 50.00 per hour. In reality you’re not saving money, you’re paying twice as much as you should.
  • Solution: I recommend request a total completed quote and don’t agree to an hourly charge, thus not worry when they started or ended work, how long their lunch was, how long their talking on their cell phone nor pay for their mistakes or lack of production, If this contractor / carpenter is insuring you that this reasonable sounding hourly charge is benefiting you then set a “cap” on the total cost with the following terms. Request a daily log of rendered hours, disbursement will occur weekly (not daily ) and value of disbursement payment will not yet be based on total logged hours but coincide with percentage of work completed in comparison to value of  total cap amount. For example , if the labor cap amount is $1,600.00 and this carpenter logged 40 hours the first week and the job is 50% completed, then this person will receive $800.00 ( 50% of $ 1,600.00 ) opposed to $1,400 ( 40 hours x $35.00 per hour ). This payment method would assure you this carpenter doesn’t receive payments equivalent to cap amount without you receiving a completed project nor abandoning project once they realize it’s not worth their time to complete project with little remaining reward.

Scam #9: Promising to Complete Project a Lot Sooner Than Others

The Deception of contractor lying to be awarded the remodeling project.

  • Reality: Company didn’t complete the project as promised however didn’t real care because they were awarded the job and made the money they expected.
  • Solution: Stipulate a penalty clause in contract that X amount of dollars will be deducted for each day pass promised completion date. Make sure final contract payment is substantial for their incentive to continue working unit completed.

Scam #10: Excuses

The Deception of contractor lying and not taking responsibility nor being accountable for their actions and decisions.

  • Reality:  A majority of home improvement company owners don’t want to omit their faults , for example due to lack of skilled help, delays caused by not ordering special order items on time , delays due to lack of communication between this company and their sub-contractors. The excuses can go on and on.
  • Solution: Take the stance that 99% of excuses are avoidable. Delays occur due to lack of preparation, misunderstandings occur due to lack of documentation & lack of communication , poor workmanship is due to lack of experience, discipline and knowledge. Protect yourself against these occurrences by at least compensating yourself monetarily. Have a large final payment for leverage to correct unsatisfied workmanship and have a penalty clause of X amount of dollars per day if project isn’t completed as promised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Much Does a Home Addition Cost? https://arnonebuilding.com/how-much-does-a-home-addition-cost-2/ https://arnonebuilding.com/how-much-does-a-home-addition-cost-2/#respond Fri, 06 Sep 2019 22:32:37 +0000 https://arnonebuilding.com/?p=683 Of all the possible remodeling projects done to a home, the constructing of an addition has by far the most variable scenarios to determine its cost. Thus, attempting to do research online or by reading home remodeling magazines to determine an idea of cost is almost impossible. Besides the obvious variations such as the size…

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Of all the possible remodeling projects done to a home, the constructing of an addition has by far the most variable scenarios to determine its cost. Thus, attempting to do research online or by reading home remodeling magazines to determine an idea of cost is almost impossible. Besides the obvious variations such as the size of the addition, the number of rooms, types of rooms, and the number of stories, there are other variations, some of which you have no control of. They are (1) Surrounding Circumstances (externally & internally), (2) Design/Materials, and (3) Upgrades to Comply with Building Codes & Zoning Requirements. These variations differ from one home to another, thus constructing the exact same size addition to different homes can still be a possible 20% to 25% difference in the final cost.

When homeowners begin to think about building an addition to their home, one of the first questions they ask is, “how much will this cost?” Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer to this question as explained above. There are many websites and home remodeling magazines that cite a range of cost-per-square-foot for home additions. However, this range is so flexible that it’s truly not helpful knowledge for your guidance to be assured you could afford to have one built or not. Also, not mentioned, nor included online are the three variables mentioned above.

Credentials

My company, Arnone Building & Remodeling, spanning six decades in the home improvement industry, builder/designer of over 500 additions, ranging from $ 5,000.00 to $ 367,000.00, is advising that it’s difficult to learn of cost by researching topics of this subject online or by reading home remodeling magazines.

Why You Can’t Estimate Cost by Looking Online (Read Examples 1-4)

I’ve never calculated the cost of any addition by solely using a cost-per-square-foot factor, which is regularly mentioned when researching online. I calculate the cost of every addition on an individual basis: (1) Square footage of Addition & Lineal footage of exterior walls (different from just square footage), (2) Surrounding Circumstances, (3) Design/Materials, and (4) Upgrades to Comply with Building Code & Zoning Requirements.

I’ll enlighten you on all these variable scenarios for your better understanding, and I’ll illustrate the flaws and omissions regarding online research.

Based on Square footage of Addition (Example 1A)

Usually, in a given scenario, the square footage of the proposed addition is multiplied by a suggested per-square-foot range of cost.

Let me explain why this information is incorrect/flawed.

For example, a 12’ x 24’ addition (288 sq. ft.) is not going to cost twice as much as an addition half its size (12’ x 12’, 144 sq. ft.). The larger size addition (12’ x 24’), although overall more expensive, is going to average less per-square-foot to construct. I’ll explain in the comparison of these two sizes mentioned.

Ground-level additions have three exterior walls. The fourth wall is actually the butting wall of the existing house. The total linear footage of the combined three new exterior walls of a 12′ x’12’ addition is 36’. These 36 linear feet of construction consist of excavating, forming and pouring foundation walls, exterior wall framing and sheathing, windows and doors, exterior wall siding, interior wall insulation, drywall and interior baseboard molding and electrical wall outlets. That being said, an addition 12’ x 24’ (twice the square footage) doesn’t have twice the linear footage of these various types of material and labor cost to install. The linear footage of the exterior walls of a 12’ x 24’ addition is 48’, only 33% more than 36’, not twice as much.

Based on Square Footage/Linear Feet of Exterior Walls (Example 1B)

  • Windows and Doors – A 12’ x 12’ addition, for example, may have one door and one window on one wall and two windows on each of the remaining two walls—in all, a total of one door and five windows. In comparison to a 12’ x 24’ addition (twice the square footage), still one door and one window on one of the 12’ walls and two windows on the remaining 12’ exterior wall, with the difference being four windows on the 24’ wall. In all, a total of one door and seven windows. The comparison difference in the addition twice the square footage is just two additional windows and no additional doors—as opposed to 10 windows and two doors (double the amount of a smaller size addition) and the flawed theory that an addition twice the square footage is twice the cost.
  • Square Footage of Exterior Walls (Based on using the same number of windows and one door )On the 12’ x 12’ addition, the square footage coverage of all three exterior walls (minus a door and four window openings) is 201 square feet. Meanwhile, for a 12’ x 24’ addition, the square footage coverage of all exterior walls (minus a door and seven window openings) is 273 square feet. Thus, doubling the size of the addition, your materials and labor costs will only increase by 35%, not 100 % more (double).

This 35% increase in materials and labor translates to (1) Exterior Wall Framing & Sheathing, (2) Exterior Wall Insulation, (3) Exterior Siding, (4) Drywall (hang and tape), (5) Electrical Wall Outlets, (6) Base Molding and Interior Trim on Windows and Doors, and (7) Also, the Excavating, Forming, and Pouring the Foundation Footings and Three Foundation Walls.

There are some scenarios in which there will be double the amount of material and labor on the 12’ x 24’ addition (twice the size). They are (1) Ceiling insulation, (2) Floor Insulation, (3) Roof & Floor Framing, (4) Finish Flooring, (5) Drywall on Ceiling, and (6) Concrete Slab Floor in the Addition, Basement, or Crawl Space.

Based on “Surrounding Circumstances” Externally (Example 2A)

These possible scenarios aren’t usually mentioned/included and are often overlooked when you research to understand the cost of your addition online. These examples below (translating to an additional cost) have to do with surrounding exterior areas and vary with each house. Thus, another example of how the same size addition placed on two different homes can vary in cost.

  • Is there a deck, concrete patio, porch, concrete steps, or sidewalk that must be demolished and re-built?
  • Is there a sewer line within the perimeter of the proposed addition that must be rerouted?
  • Is there an underground drainage pipe along the perimeter of the house foundation that now has to be removed in the area where you are putting the addition, which will then need to be re-routed and re-connected along the perimeter of the new addition?
  • Is there an air conditioning unit, electric meter box, water faucet, cable box, oil fill, or gas meter that will need to be removed and relocated?
  • Are there trees or shrubbery that must be cut down or relocated?
  • Can heavy equipment such as a dump truck, backhoe, or cement truck access the area where the proposed addition will be installed? If there is no access for a cement truck, then concrete will have to be pumped in on each of the three separate pours (footings , walls & slab floor in basement or crawl space ) (from driveway or street).
  • What will be the height of the foundation walls of the addition above grade? This is a variable based on the terrain of one’s existing property. The same size addition on one property could need a 2’ high foundation wall and on another property need to be 5’ high.
  • Another expense in the construction of an addition to consider in your budget is lawn repair due to heavy equipment such as a backhoe, dump truck, concrete truck, and excavating.

Based on “Surrounding Circumstances“ Internally (Example 2B)

Electrical Upgrades

All additions require electricity, which places a burden on the existing electrical system. If the home’s electrical panel box has adequate space for the additional required circuits, then no electrical upgrade/cost is required. If not, then an additional cost will be required to either install a sub-panel or remove the entire electrical panel box and install a new 200 amp upgraded electrical panel box (this varies from home to home).

Heating System & Air Conditioning

All additions require heat and, in some cases, air conditioning. The existing home’s furnace or boiler and air conditioner unit are sized slightly more than the present cubic footage of the existing house. If the home substantially grows in size, the furnace or boiler and air conditioner may not be able to keep up with the extra demand. During the estimating stage, the furnace or boiler and air conditioning unit must be inspected to determine whether or not it is big enough to heat or cool the updated cubic footage effectively. If not, additional cost (this varies from home to home).

Connection to Each Mechanical System  

Usually, the connection to the boiler, furnace, waste pipe, or electrical panel occurs in the basement. Is the route from the house equipment to the addition clear, or are there obstacles? Is the basement finished as opposed to unfinished? Is the distance between the addition and the equipment far or close? Another example when including a bathroom in addition, is the connection route of the drain pipe from the proposed addition to the basement connection in the house close or far away? Is there adequate pitch for drainage or will a pump be required?

Design and Materials (Example 3)

A major part of the cost of an addition is mimicking the original design of the house. If the home is made from expensive materials, has a design that is difficult to replicate, or requires extra supplies, this could inflate the cost significantly.

Present house examples to mimic on addition, include:

  • Is the exterior siding on the house vinyl siding or either cedar clapboards or wood cedar shingles? The wood choices are three times as expensive, material, and labor wise, to install. Plus, you’ll have an additional expense to either stain or paint the wood siding.
  • Is the pitch of the house roof steep or walkable? Material and labor to install are more costly if steep.
  • Does your house have roof overhangs over the gable walls?
  • What is the depth of roof overhangs of house (in inches where the gutters are located ) , can vary from 6” to 24”.
  • What is the roof style of your house? Gable or Hip? A hip style roof is more costly to construct (material & labor wise).
  • What is the height of your house walls? They can range from 7’ 6” to 9’ 0” high. This reflects the amount of wall framing/sheathing, exterior siding, wall insulation, and drywall needed.

Your selections based on your personal taste/budget:

  • Installation of stain-grade interior trim versus paint-grade.
  • Installation of interior solid pine doors versus hollow core doors.
  • Oak flooring/tile flooring or less expensive vinyl flooring or carpet.
  • Cathedral ceilings and skylights.
  • Attached deck? If so, pressure-treated wood or composite decking.
  • Interior entrance into the new addition. As inexpensive as removing the original exterior door and trimming this existing opening or taking down the entire wall (bearing) between the house and new addition, thus installing a structural support header and having to re-route electrical wires and maybe plumbing in this wall.
  • Addition, either a crawl space or a full-height basement.
  • Interior lighting, single-center ceiling fixture, or multiple hanging/recessed lighting.

Upgrades to Comply with Building Codes & Zoning Requirements (Example 4)

Cities / Towns Vary

Depending on where you live, in some areas of the state, it’s required to excavate and bury plastic chambers in the ground, acting as a dry well to collect water drainage coming off the new addition roof. The logic being, the structure of the addition is now occupying ground space that previously absorbed rainwater in the ground.

Septic System or City/Town Sewer Connection

If your addition includes a bedroom and you have a septic system opposed to a city/town sewer connection, then there’s the possibility of having to enlarge your septic system to accommodate additional bedrooms or prove you have an adequate reserved area in case you later have to enlarge the septic system. Contrary to having a sewer connection, you can add as many bedrooms as you want without any restrictions/costs.  Another example of how the same size addition to one home can vary in price at another home.

Applying for a Variance?

Additional cost if you do with no guarantee you will be approved. Basically, infringing to build an addition beyond the set-backs of adjoining properties including street.

Existing Conditions

There may be existing pre-existing violations noticed that would be required to be corrected that were either initially noticed by the contractor during the bidding stage or during the inspections by town inspectors of the addition. Some examples (but not limited to) are, (1) Built structures without receiving a permit. Usually, if obvious violations are noticed then, no permit was issued, (2) The door between the house and garage is not fire-rated, and (3) Absence of smoke detectors.

Get a Professional Estimate from Arnone Building and Remodeling

Instead of struggling to figure out the approximate cost of the addition you’re considering to build by going online and reading the wide range of costs based on square footage along with now knowing all the omissions and variables I mentioned earlier, call Arnone Building & Remodeling.

At Arnone Building and Remodeling Inc., we begin this process by scheduling an in-depth phone conversation. We’ll discuss the specifics of your current home as well as what kind of addition you’re interested in. We will also take a look at your property via Google Earth to determine the space and terrain we will be working with. This information is typically enough for us to provide an approximate quote for your better understanding. When you are ready to move forward, we will then schedule an on-site, in-person consultation to discuss the project in greater detail.

At Arnone, we believe that in-person discussions are at the heart of good bids and estimates. Only with extensive research and communication can we truly determine the real cost of the job

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How to Avoid Unforeseen Costs When Hiring a Contractor https://arnonebuilding.com/how-to-avoid-unforeseen-construction-costs/ https://arnonebuilding.com/how-to-avoid-unforeseen-construction-costs/#respond Thu, 20 Jun 2019 10:40:51 +0000 https://arnonebuilding.com/?p=674 They say that knowledge is power. And when it comes to hiring a contractor, arming yourself with the right information can help you avoid unforeseen costs that can lead to delays and failed home improvement projects. In this blog post, I’ll share with you my half-century of hands-on contractor experience. You’ll learn how to read between…

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They say that knowledge is power. And when it comes to hiring a contractor, arming yourself with the right information can help you avoid unforeseen costs that can lead to delays and failed home improvement projects.

In this blog post, I’ll share with you my half-century of hands-on contractor experience. You’ll learn how to read between the lines and think outside of the box to avoid damage and delays that can blow your budget.

Read the Contract

Nearly every home improvement project should begin with the signing of a contract. To start this process, request that the contract be sent to you over email. This will prevent the contractor from coming to your home with the expectation that you must read and sign the contract on the spot. Since the contractor is the author of the agreement, they’ll include language and terms that best suit their interests instead of yours.

With adequate time, you’ll be able to:

  1. Fully read the entire contents of the contract and make notes on items you don’t understand. You’ll also be able to look for parts of the agreement that were previously promised to ensure they’re included.
  2. Pay close attention to the presented payment schedule including the start and completion date.
  3. Confirm that materials are specified to ensure that they’ll be high-quality.

The contract is a valuable document that helps both parties avoid unforeseen problems and additional costs. A reputable contractor will give you sufficient time to study it before you sign.

Feel free to ask the contractor to reword sections that need to be amended. If the contractor cannot or will not change the contract to suit your needs, hire someone else. As a homeowner, you have every right to protect your best interests by analyzing and requesting changes or additional language.

To further protect yourself, request that your contractor email you a copy of their insurance (workers’ compensation and general liability) as well as their home improvement license.

Know the Warning Signs of a Shady Contractor

Beware of contractors who:

  • Request a Large Down Payment – A large down payment could be an indication that your contractor is mismanaging funds or funding other projects with your money. Should those other projects fail, your contractor may run out of money before they’re able to finish yours.
  • Require a Low Final Payment– Avoid contractors who require the bulk of the payment before the project is completed. Should you and your contractor disagree, this leaves you with little leverage to settle your differences.
  • Require Payments Starting at the Beginning of a Construction Phase –Most contractors will request payments to buy materials, but then require little else until the work is complete.
  • Set Payment Amounts that Exceed the Percentage of Work Completed– Again, a reputable contractor will charge a client for work completed, not work yet to be done.

Know What You Want to See in a Contract

Knowing what you want when you set out to negotiate a construction contract can help you achieve your goals. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Initial Deposit Amount– Your initial deposit should not be more than 10% of the total value of the project, except in cases where expensive special-order items need to be purchased. If this is the case, your contractor may increase the suggested 10% down-payment. You should then maintain the 10% down payment and only pay the remaining balance when the building permit is obtained, and you’ve received a copy.
  • Permits for Specific Items– If the special-order items require a permit before installation, pay your contractor the 10% suggested down payment and ask them to obtain the permit. Then, wait to pay the additional amount over the 10% deposit until after it has been pulled. No contractor should purchase any special-order item until they have a permit in hand.

 

Add language stating that the homeowner will receive a copy of the permit (if required) before work begins. Request the final payment amount to be equal to the down-payment amount, and add language stating that it’s not due until all final inspections are approved.

  • The Punch List– Include a clause that addresses the completion of the punch listIn a construction project, this is a list of items yet to be completed. During the construction project, the punch list might include a variety of items that need to be corrected. The contract should state that these will be fixed before issuing intermediate payments. That way, you can be assured the contractor has an incentive to complete the project.
  • Payment Schedule – Request language stating that payment is due upon completion of a phase, rather than at the beginning of a phase. For intermediate payments, it’s best to include an exact list of what required work must be completed before each payment will be made. This makes it easier to track payments compared to output.
  • A Penalty Clause Request a penalty clause for each day that work begins or finishes late. This protects you from contractors who incorrectly state that they can start earlier than realistically possible.

Compare Contracts

Compare contractor proposals and look for omissions – don’t assume that all contractors are providing the same service. Examples of omissions to watch for include:

  • Permits
  • Dumpster Rental to Haul Away Debris
  • Portable Toilet Rental (for Large Projects)
  • Supply of Electrical Light Fixtures
  • Lawn Repairs (Should an Additional Foundation Be Constructed)
  • Taxes
  • Delivery

Watching for these omissions will help you avoid unforeseen costs and may also lead you to hire another contractor who has included these items in their quote. If the contractor insists that those items are not necessary for your job, request a list of “excluded items” to be included in the contract.

Add A Clause Stating That All Work Will Be Done to Code

This added language will supersede any language in the contract that describes supplies and tasks performed. Should your contractor not be up to date or knowledgeable of existing codes in either building, electrical, plumbing, or heating, then you can’t be charged for additional upgrades of material or labor involved to meet these requirements.

For example, suppose your contractor specified in their contract the use of a two-by-six ceiling joist, two-by-four exterior studs, R-30 (nine inches thick) fiberglass insulation, and installation of a standard window in the bathroom. If the inspection reveals that this work does not meet standard building codes, the words “all work will be done to code” ensures that your contractor can’t charge you for the additional cost of materials and time. This language also includes items any contractor forgot to include in the contract, possibly because they were unaware of existing or changing codes.

In some cases, homeowners assume that certain features are implied by the phrase “all work will be done to code.” However, not all features are required. For example, a homeowner may presume that ceiling fixtures are required in a bedroom addition, den, or family room, when, in fact, they are not. These rooms are only required to have an entrance switch wired to a selected wall outlet. Or, a homeowner may presume that an exhaust fan is included in the new or remodeled bathroom. However, if the bathroom has a window, this is not the case. A homeowner may also believe that gutters and leaders are included with their home addition, when, in fact, this is not a code requirement. To avoid these miscommunications, request that all provided labor and material be outlined in the contract, even if building codes require it.

Outline All Provided Merchandise in the Contract

Some contractors undercut others in their field by installing bottom-of-the-line products. Requesting that all merchandise be listed in the contract enables you to review the items that the contractor will purchase and ensures that your contractor will be installing quality products.

If you fail to do this, you could be misled into thinking that you’re hiring a reasonably-priced contractor, when in reality, their quote is low only because they’re giving you the cheapest options.

Examples of merchandise that could easily be swapped for lesser quality products include:

  • Roof Shingles– Cheaper options come with a 20-year warranty, while high-quality shingles include lifetime protection.
  • Wall, Floor, and Roof Sheathing Plywood– Quality plywood costs $26.00 per sheet compared to a wafer board sheet, which sells for half the price.
  • Interior Trim (Base Molding, Window and Door Casing, Window Sills, Door and Window Jambs)– These products can be found in either solid pine or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). MDF is 50% less expensive than pine and prone to swelling.
  • Interior Doors (Both Slabs and Pre-Hung)– Doors can have a solid or hollow core. A hollow core is 50% less expensive.

Never accept a “generic” description of merchandise, such as “We are supplying and installing roof shingles, windows, and interior doors.” A better description would read, “We are installing GAF lifetime warranty architectural roof shingles and Andersen windows (400 series). The windows include grids to match present house style, screens, hardware, and interior/exterior finishes in white vinyl. Interior trim is clear pine (no knots), and interior doors are hollow core, six-panel, and include brush nickel hardware.”

When details are present in the contract, you can ensure that you are getting the exact materials you want and are paying for.

Include Allowance Items in the Contract

Additional merchandise to be specified in proposals and eventually included in the contract are known as “allowance items.” Allowance items are selected only by the homeowner because they are based on personal taste. Examples include toilets, tubs, floor and wall tiles, vanities, faucets, carpet, kitchen cabinets, medicine cabinets, counters, electrical light fixtures, and laminate flooring.

If you haven’t yet selected these items during the preliminary bidding process, have the initial contractor arbitrarily place an average price value on all merchandise. To help you compare bids from different contractors, relay this arbitrary price to everyone else who proposes a bid. This helps ensure that each contractor is bidding “apples to apples,” thus not misleading you into thinking you’re hiring a reasonable builder – when in reality, their bid is low because they are figuring on the cheapest selection.

After signing a contract with the builder of your choice, shop around for these items to determine the actual cost of the contract. You can do this by totaling the “allowance” amounts to your selections to see if the actual totals are over or under the assumed amount. If under, you should receive a credit for the difference. If over, you’ll pay the difference.

Add a Wish List

Another way to avoid unforeseen costs is to request a separate “wish list” of items that you may later consider when gathering initial quotes. This will enable you to lock in on a price, should you eventually hire that contractor and add this project to the contract as an additional work order.

This method will most likely present a more favorable cost to you because, at this stage, you have not yet committed to whom you will hire. Therefore, you have leverage during the selection process. Should you wait to do this until after the contract is signed, the cost would be higher because the contractor is no longer bidding against anyone else, giving them the leverage.

Add A Margin of Error

It’s common for contractors to encounter unforeseen costs from hidden damage when they remodel a home. Dry rot, mold, leaks, and other problems can all be revealed when the walls of a home are torn open. Most contractors will include language that allows for additional costs to be incurred during the demolition stage. For example, a contract might state that “any rotten wood, code violations, or obstacles in the wall, ceiling, floor, or ground that needs to be either moved, relocated, or replaced will be an additional charge.”

The contractor will not name a price because it’s not yet known what kind of repair, if any, must be performed. You can anticipate these costs by adding 10% to any contractor bid. This margin of error will enable you to plan for these costs even if they’re not incurred.

One of the major reasons that unforeseen costs occur is because contractors can’t see through walls, ceilings, floors, or the ground to determine which obstacles they will encounter. Within the walls of any home, there may be rotten or missing materials as well as code violations. The contractor has the obligation to correct and be compensated monetarily if this is the case. However, contractors must take the time to properly and thoroughly inspect all exposed locations at the proposed and abutting areas associated with the project.

For example, if the proposed project is an addition, the existing electrical panel must be inspected to determine whether it has room for the additional required circuits. The same applies to the furnace or boiler, which must be examined to ensure that it is large enough to accommodate the extra cubic footage of the house. If the electrical panel, furnace, or boiler cannot cover the addition, a replacement is necessary.

You should relay any code violations or required upgrades to all contractors. This will go a long way in preventing unforeseen costs. Remember, you’re likely to get a better deal from a contractor before you sign a contract.

As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to tell your contractor about any known code violations in your walls. If you’re upfront about the costs, you can have a more accurate idea of what kind of repairs your contractor will have to make once the project begins.

Work with an Honest Contractor

My final advice is to vet your contractor to ensure that you’re working with an honest professional. A contractor with integrity will be upfront about the costs of your home improvement project – even if that means the job will be awarded to someone else.

You can identify a good contractor by checking references, getting referrals, and of course, verifying licensure. Interview each contractor you’re thinking about hiring – meet face-to-face on the job site and be sure to ask scrutinizing questions. Each contractor should make an effort to explore your property and identify possible problems that could arise during the project. If one contractor fails to do this, hire someone else. Only by doing your due diligence can you protect yourself from unforeseen construction costs.

If you’re looking for a reputable contractor with full transparency, contact Arnone Building and Remodeling Inc. today. We’re committed to you and providing the best service possible, without the excuses.

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