Construction projects can be stressful, we get it. We’ve put together this list of FAQs and resources in the hopes that it might help you get started.

How much should I expect to invest in my project?

We get this question all the time, and the short answer is “it depends.” Before embarking on a construction project, there are more unknowns than knowns. Do I need a soils report? Should I contact a septic engineer? What about Title 24? How much engineering will be required? Will the zoning allow what I want to do? Every project is different, and until we have enough information about what you want and what is possible, we believe that providing budgetary information would be doing you a disservice.  With that said, we understand how important it is to get a rough idea of the budget range as early as possible. This is why the first step in our process is to team you up with a consultant on our staff who can confirm the feasibility of your project and do the least amount of work necessary to provide you with a reality test and a realistic preliminary budget.

In the meantime, we have found this Cost vs Value report published by Remodeling Magazine quite helpful for bench marking the investment of remodel projects in our geographic area. You’ll have to fill out some personal information to get the report, but we think it’s well worth it.

What makes Thrive different?

The first phase of any project we take on is a feasibility/schematic design phase under our Consulting Services Agreement. This would be a time and expenses arrangement with the goal of identifying goals, determining what is possible and defining the scope enough so that, at the end of this process, we understand what you are hoping to achieve and have developed a preliminary/schematic design that meets with your approval. Once we have that information (incomplete but enough to get a “universe” budget), we can come up with a general range for what your investment might be, to get through design and permitting and also to complete the construction. If the budget is too high, it is so early on that we can easily pivot – to make changes to the design, reduce the scope, or perhaps come up with a phased construction approach. Although this is a time and expenses agreement, we never treat it like a blank check. We come up with a list of goals and present a budget ceiling prior to doing any work, and we don’t exceed the budget ceiling without specific, written approval.

With your approval, we move into the second phase, the Design-Build Agreement. During this phase, in collaboration with you and our design professionals, we complete the construction drawings and submit for a permit. Concurrently, we are finalizing design details and preparing for construction – contracting with subs, gathering insurance certificates, scheduling work, ordering materials – so we can hit the ground running once the permit is issued.

How do I pick the right partner in my venture?

Hiring a contractor is a very personal decision – you need to feel confident in your choice. Aside from the purchase of your property, a construction project is often the largest financial transaction you will enter into, so it makes sense that you have your eye on the bottom line. However, we believe that one should never underestimate the value of trust, communication and risk management. Whether you hire us or someone else, it is important that you do your due diligence when vetting a contractor – it could save you money and headaches throughout your project.

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Make sure the contractor is currently licensed with the CSLB and has valid Workers Compensation insurance.
  • If the CSLB site indicates they are exempt from Workers Compensation, ask them if they will have a crew on your property. If they say “yes,” this is a red flag. Without Worker’s Compensation insurance, any one on their crew that gets hurts can come after you for compensation.
  • Request a current certificate of General Liability insurance. As a rule, we advise that you not allow anyone to work on your site until they have provided a current General Liability insurance certificate which names you as Additional Insured and references the address of your property.
  • Pay attention to how responsive they are. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. If they don’t respond quickly and clearly to your calls and emails during the proposal phase, this will most likely continue through the construction phase.
  • Pay close attention to the details included on the proposal. Sure, the bottom line might look great, but what exactly does it include? Does it include bringing utilities to the site? Adding a septic system? Does it meet Title 24? Are the counters laminate or stone? Are the floors hardwood or linoleum? As they say, the devil is in the details.

Recommended questions:

What is your specialty (new construction, kitchen & baths, remodels, etc.)?

Do you typically estimate “as-is” or do you offer value engineering services, risk/reward or obstacle/opportunity analysis for your clients?

How do you invoice (how often, for what, how much information is shown, etc)?

How do you typically manage the selections process?

How many projects do you have going on at any given time?  How are they managed?

Do you have liability and worker compensation insurance?  Do you ensure that your subcontractors do, too?

Do you provide a schedule for the project before it starts?  If so, how is it updated and provided throughout the project?

Can I or should I live in my house during the project?

How do you address changes during the project that are either due to unforeseen discovery or elective by client?