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Old 08-06-2010, 01:18 PM   #1
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Where to begin with construction project

Hello everyone,

As you'll probably see, by my future posts, hubby and I are severely DIY challenged, so I guess I've come to the right place.

We're looking at the possibility of making an addition to our house (adding another room above the garage), but want to make sure it is within our budget first.

Who does one contact if you want a ball park figure for the construction work? We thought of getting a contractor in, but they're going to want to see plans. And if we went to an architecht, they're going to want to know specifics - which we're nowhere near deciding.
Quantity surveyors? Valuators?

Any help or suggestions would be greatly ppreciated!



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Old 08-06-2010, 01:54 PM   #2
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you're right

Indy: You've got it. First, make a descent drawing of what you want done, ie, a good floor plan. No one can make any recommendations on footings, roof trusses, etc, until they know what your game plan is. An architect? Probably not. A good contractor should be able to tell you feasibility, and whether or not an engineer is needed. GL. j


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Old 08-06-2010, 02:06 PM   #3
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If you are going to hire a contractor then the best way to get an estimate if by doing a sketch (paper sketch should be fine), include in the sketch as much detail as you can and arrange for a decent number of contractors to give you estimates. Part of their job is to tell you how much it will cost.

If you bring in contractors and you have plans, you'll get a more accurate cost. Without plans they have to do a lot of guesstimating which they should be used to.

As far as picking a contractor, they should have giant how-to books for that. Generally, don't go with the cheapest. Ask each and every contractor "We don't need a permit for this do we?", and if they tell you that you don't then do not hire them, because you most certainly do.
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:46 PM   #4
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I drew up some rough sketches at 1st
Then I did some rough plans on the computer
Architect then gave me a cost to design/draw up formal plans
Contractor estimate was based off my plans, window & door list

You start with just general measurements & hand drawings
Plus knowing what local code will permit
Some areas you can't build up
Other cases your foundation may not support a 2nd floor
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:39 PM   #5
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Starting a large renovation project - How to come up with a budget.

In North Vancouver the best place to start your renovation project is at city hall. Go early 8:00 - 8:30 AM and ask for help. Tell them you want to be your own General Contractor and Builder - ask for the proper forms and then learn what each one is. There are many and this process of understanding what each is and why they are needed will educate you and your spouse on the proper steps, inspections and certificates you will need to renovate your home.

Next go to your local building yard (not box store) and go to the lumber sales desk. Ask every person at the desk (not one - but all 2,4,6) who a good framer is and if they have their card. Call them all - all 2,4,6 etc. Ask for their current job site locations and previous one. Go look. Take pictures. Is the job site tidy or a bomb? Does the work meet your standards?

It would take me a few days to type out all the next steps and then they might not be current to your code and your city. Even within a city the codes can vary, even which side of the road you live on can affect things.

Your City Hall should be your first stop. Learn about each form before you given any tradesman a deposit. The scope of work and what the total costs are can vary depending on what's required in your city. Codes are always updating and your friends renovation that cost $80,000 last year could now cost $100,00 because of new rain screen, geo technical, earthquake, plumbing and electrical codes. And on and on...

Work out your max number. What you can afford without risking your families equity and the vary home you wish to improve. Take this number and divide it by 1.40 (IE Max Budget $200,000 - Project Budget 200,000 / 1.40 = $142,857.14) This number should be your Project Goal - Period. Don't think things are going well and under budget and splurge. Better to complete the Landscaping, Exterior, Framing, Roofing, Electrical, Insulation and Vapour Barrier, Heating and Ventilation, plumbing and electrical rough in's before these extras are green lighted.

Seal off the renovation from your home as much as possible. Keep an area of your home as a retreat and well stocked with Red Wine.

Stay safe and watch for your kids if you plan to live through this. Insist of safe working practices and talk with your insurance company before any demo or work starts.

Go slow.

This is fun. But Hard. Tons to learn.

There are many men and women online who help and can help. Trust no ones advice until you have acceptance from your local building inspectors. These men and women at city hall are a wealth of information and many times have great hand outs and guidance. You won't find them suggesting builders but they will tell you what is required by one. Learn. Read.

Fine Homebuilding has a great DVD that has years of issues. I would spend the $150.00 (I Have) and order this right away. You can keep it with you on your hard drive of a laptop and pull up information with ease. Remember that codes are changing and often what is shown in this magazine is way above code or perhaps even outdated. But the articles are usually quite specific and if you are DIY Challanged this magazine can teach you the lingo.

Good Luck.

I'll watch for your future threads. Ask specific questions on each subject as you learn the steps.

"When it's perfect. It's good enough."

John Whipple

Last edited by JohnFRWhipple; 08-06-2010 at 03:51 PM. Reason: typo's (some of) :)
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:27 PM   #6
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Might be a bit different since the person is in South Africa
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:01 PM   #7
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S Africa? Indy, my bro in law lives there. If you are anywhere near Jo'burg, let me know. Maybe Theo can give you some pointers and he may even be looking for work. He built his place, etc. john jolinak@gci.net
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:08 PM   #8
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I designed a home/school for some missionaries in Ghana. One thing I can tell you for sure is that typical American/European thinking is not going to comply with nor conform to what you will encounter locally. Work within the scope and comfort level of the local contractors and building authorities.

Not too much of the advice we can give you here will fit your esoteric circumstances.


"True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and only that which is."
François Duc de La Rochefoucauld
Willie T
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