One of the great things about working at a design/build company is that we work through the design process step by step alongside our estimators. This collaboration helps make things more predictable, both for us and for our clients.
When we present cost estimates to our clients, the question inevitably comes up: “So what isn’t included in this number?” It is a great question, as the last thing we want to do is confuse anyone with conflicting expectations. We do what we can to lay out exactly what is not included.
There are a variety of reasons certain elements are left out, and it is important to understand what will need to be budgeted for outside of what you’ll be paying your builder for the principal work. Consider the following aspects of home remodel that lay outside the design/build budget.
Appliances, particularly in the kitchen (refrigerators, ranges, ovens, microwaves, etc.) are typically left out of our estimates. We do this for a couple reasons: Firstly, they are usually installed much quicker (and at less cost) when installed by the store from which they were bought. Secondly, the individual appliance warranties are often voided when installed by someone other than the provider.
Make sure your builder is clear as can be as to what is included in the cost. Built-in or site-built items (benches, storage units, cabinets, etc.) can often be swapped out for pieces of furniture at a lower cost—just remember to keep it in mind as you start to think of how you will be furnishing the new spaces that are being created.
These items typically include draperies, area rugs, window treatments, and other decorative elements. There is the rare exception where a window treatment may be part of a specific architectural detail, but for the most part, these items are left to you to round out the finishing touches.
Most design/build firms specialize in exactly that: designing and building. This specialization leaves some areas, landscaping in particular, as something outside of our wheelhouse. We have many contacts that we can steer you toward in order to get a great service that will mesh well with our process, but we know that if we offered it directly, it would likely add cost and complexity that you wouldn’t have going directly to an independent company.
Some firms roll this cost into their contract price with their customers; we do not. We keep our design fees separate, so that you can be well aware of exactly how much money is being put into that portion of the project. We bill it independently so we can better control these costs and adjust the design process to match your investment comfort level.
Construction is a messy business! It can be loud, dusty, and a big inconvenience, both to your peace of mind and to your mental well-being. While it is a luxury, having a home away from home while construction is going on has saved many of our clients some pretty big headaches.
So, whatever your project may be, make sure that whoever you are working with is crystal clear as to exactly what is and—often more importantly—what is not included in your cost estimates. It can make the difference when you are figuring out exactly what the project will cost.