Renovation/ Expansion Advice
October 22, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We recently bought a small cape (1200 sq. ft) that we're looking to gut/renovate & expand to a 4BR, 3.5Bath open floor plan home. We're pretty confident we'll need an architect/designer, but any advice on how much to spend for one, and whether to have a builder picked in advance of the architect/designer, or get the plans and then bid the job to various builders? Thanks!
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Linda Zaff Architecture, P.C.
Hello jlee634, Would you tell us where you are located? You do not need to choose a general contractor prior to hiring an architect, but you can begin looking for one. An architect can often help you find a general contractor (and vice versa) whose experience may be tailored to your project's needs. It is often helpful to find a contractor during the design development phase in order to estimate cost along the way. If you have an architect complete drawings first and then put them out to bid, you may find that all the bids are over your budget. That results in going back to redesign and remove or change costly areas of the design (and more time and money spent on the architect for redesigning). Another option is to hire a Design/Build company which provides both the design and construction services. Architects calculate fees differently from one another. It depends on the architect and what services are listed in your Owner/Architect agreement. Generally, there is some relationship to a percentage of the construction cost. Some phases such as the schematic (initial) design phase and the construction administration may be billed hourly.
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 6:46AM
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Great advice from Linda Zaff. Agreed, and architect would be able to help you come with design ideas, then the contractors would be able to price out exactly according to the construction drawings.
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Explore your area and see if you find similar projects underway or recently completed. Looking at the signs posted or the permits should give you some names to contact for architects/contractors.

Weekend afternoons are a great time to meet homeowners. Lots of people will talk to you about their experiences, good and bad, in remodeling their homes and give you names for tradesmen
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Katie Anderson Design Consultants - CCIDC #6679
I have the same question as Linda Zaff, where is your home located? You do need to have design drawings before a contractor can give you a realistic estimate of costs. There is a general formula however that you can use as a rough guide of cost estimating. You will need to find out from either asking local contractors or other people in your area who have done a remodel around the same scope and size as you are planning what their resulting costs were. You can estimate by multiplying a dollar amount per square foot. As an example in San Francisco Ca. an average remodel/building cost is $400 - $450 per square foot. So if you were to remodel a bathroom that was 9 X 10 the range would be $36,000 - 40,500. Again, this is for my area and these ranges differ greatly depending on where you are in the US. Good luck with your project!
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Thanks everyone so far for the feedback. I am located in southern CT.
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Studio Boise, LLC
As an architectural designer in Boise Idaho, I can tell you that in small cities you will find a much better rate, that's why often times we do work for clients on different states. Most architects end up costing you between 5 and 10% of total project cost. Some will charge by the hour (around $90) but the best question to ask is - In average what percentage of the total project cost is their fee? then use that to compare firms no matter what the actual billing type is. But if a firm can't tell you the average percentage of total project, RUN! that means they don't consider your budget when they design.
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Melley Nelson Design
Jlee, I am in the Hartford area and may be a little to far but there are contractors and architects that will do a quick design for cost estimates. I usually come in, do a quick, quick measurement, take pictures, get your list of wants and needs. Then I put the existing plan into cad, draw 2--3 sketch plans over it, so you know what you like and do not like and then come up with one to show around to a contractor. Nothing I draw at that point can go for a permit but it does get the ball rolling. I can usually do it in about 6-8 hours depending on the scale of the project. This would probably be charged hourly, or may have a set consult fee. Good luck and if you are in a pinch, send me a message. Also start asking anyone you know for good contractors, if you're about to do a major reno opening up your house, you better like them and have a healthy relationship. Meet with several. Good luck!
0 Likes   October 22, 2013 at 1:09PM
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