Tag Archives: general contractor

Realtors Working With Architects and Contractors Makes Sense

Proper planning prevents poor performance applies to everything we do including purchasing property for a new house or an existing home to be remodeled.

Costs can escalate and dreams deflate when problems arise following the purchase of a property.  Zoning, well and septic, site conditions, existing structure constraints and building codes to name a few, not investigated prior to closing can create insurmountable issues.

Many if not all of the issues that can impact a home or property purchase can be identified and resolved early in the process by the realtor and home owner teaming up with an architect and contractor.

This group approach plays to the individual strengths of each member.  From the start budget, goals and ground rules are set that will continue through construction and turnover.  This type of process is transparent and results in all “having each other’s back”.

The architect along with the contractor will make sure the project is buildable.  The architect will work with the client to visualize their dream incorporating all their unique needs and wants and set a budget.  Together with the contractor he will work with the client to formalize the design within a detailed and inclusive budget.

Selecting a proven architect teamed with a contractor that will manage the total process and openly communicate cost and information is the formula for success for realtors and their clients.

Crown believes this is the only way to approach a project and our staff has been doing it successfully for over 20 years in the commercial and residential fields.  Most recently we have been fortunate to have worked with Bamesberger Architecture located in Valparaiso and been part of the creativity, passion, knowledge and accountability that Fred brings to everything he does.

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348

How to avoid potential disasters when building your home without a GC…

and possible consequences when you choose to DIY

LEGAL ISSUES:

Why hire an architect, designer or builder when you know what you want, and you know how to do it (or have some friends who are willing to help)?  Go ahead and start building!!!

Please don’t, for your own sake.  Are you aware of the local and national building codes?  Are you or your friends versed in civil, structural, mechanical, or electrical engineering?  Will you feel confident that you won’t be electrocuted because your home is not properly grounded?  How do you feel about paying out a large settlement to a friend who is hurt on your property?  If you are comfortable with any of these situations, you have more guts than anyone I know.

Please DO – Go through the proper channels and have your building inspected by the proper authorities (see permit point below) and built by the experts!

Building without a permit might sound like a great way to avoid delays in starting construction.  Plus you get the added bonus of not needing those pesky inspections that are holding back your moving into your dream home.  DON’T DO IT!!!  Building departments not only adhere to most local and national codes, but some may have their own requirements to hire contractors and subcontractors that are licensed and insured within the municipality (and state licensed in some cases).  Unless you want a big fat STOP WORK ORDER, we suggest playing by the rules for your own protection.  Permitting and inspections go hand in hand with doing things right (as noted in the above section).

ARCHITECTURAL ISSUES:

  • Sourcing materials from multiple locations may end up with different lots (tile or flooring may not match even though the manufacturer is the same)
  • Tiles may lay uneven, have bad cuts, or large grout joints. In shower situations, leaking may occur if all proper steps are not completed
  • Ordering cabinetry from a big box store without a designer can leave you with cabinetry that does not fit (especially if the framing and drywall is not plumb and square)
  • Framing is not properly designed for loads on flooring or roof. This is not only an architectural issue, but a structural one that is unsafe!
  • Fixtures may not line up with electrical or plumbing in walls and floors leading to bad or awkward layouts. Ordering foreign fixtures online may have different connections that are incompatible with the S.

Amanda Regelin, Sr. Project Manager (Residential and Commercial Divisions)

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348

 

What exactly are you paying for in a builder’s fee (OH&P) and general conditions?

Often, home builders and general contractors (as well as subcontractors) are questioned about “what is included in general conditions and contractors’ fees”, and perhaps, “why is it so expensive when I can just do the contracting myself?”  While this may seem like a valid question, there are many things included in these costs that are not so obvious to a homeowner.

What to expect in a general contractor or home builder’s fee (overhead and profit):

  • Contractors work for a profit…just as any other business. We offer free estimates in ALL cases, which cost us a lot of time, energy and money, and when we do not get a project, we do not collect a fee.
  • When we perform our services, we expect a payment for management of scheduling, assisting with material selections, maintaining ongoing daily communication with all parties (including subcontractors, architect, building officials (inspectors) and municipalities, and the client), managing and assuring the budget stays on track, as well as office and administrative costs.
  • A reputable general contractor will carry the proper insurance including general liability and worker’s compensation which is a hard cost and must be maintained to protect the client, ourselves and others working on the job. He will also ensure that all of the subcontractors on site are properly insured in both GL and WC, another form of protection to the client.
  • General conditions can include:
    • Salary for on-site supervision during your construction project.
    • Safety, barricades, protection, clean-up (including final cleaning), travel time, temporary toilets, dumpsters, temporary driveways, equipment rentals, jobsite trailers and storage containers, etc.

Many television shows have been deceitful to the public by touting ridiculously low and impossible costs of construction, as well as many that can be done DIY (and within days).  Please take a moment to ponder the thought, “if it looks to good to be true…it probably is”.

We love what we do here at Crown, and our goal is to make our clients happy and gain a referral for another project.  We are not in the business of ripping off our customers…we are here to do an important job that must be done right, or it may suffer terrible consequences in the future.  Some disastrous examples will be shared in our next blog article!

Amanda Regelin, Sr. Project Manager (Residential and Commercial Divisions)

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348

When to Hire a Public Adjuster

Earlier this year, one of our clients sustained serious damage from ice dams that formed during our treacherous winter.  Several areas of her oak hardwood flooring were cupped and buckled on much of the first floor of the house (almost 1600SF), walls were stained, cracking and tape joints were exposed, and window trims, floor base and door casings discolored in black (a possible indication of mold).

Our client contacted her insurance agent to file a claim for repairs, and he came to her home to make an evaluation as expected.  He then recommended a few of his favorite disaster repair companies to work up pricing so they could move along with the process and send her a check for the “agreed to” amount.

We opted to price up the work with our subcontractors, so our client would have a basis of comparison to the recommended contractors.  When pricing was complete by each party, it was determined that the other two bids were substantially lower and seemed to be lacking much of the appropriate work, which would in turn, devalue and depreciate the client’s home and home value.  She voiced her concerns to her agent, and asked many questions hope to understand why so many items were left out.  After her insurance premium had been increased over 40% per year, and received no response from the agent, she received a check in the mail for the lesser amount of the two prices submitted.

We suggested she contact a public adjuster to fight the needed work.  Public adjusters can help by:

  • Providing an educated opinion in his area of expertise
  • Evaluating your current homeowner insurance policy to determine what you are entitled to and what the insurer is required to provide legally
  • As public adjusters charge a fee (either hourly or based on a percentage of the settlement), there is incentive to reach a maximized agreement
  • Eliminating the stress you may feel by dealing with the insurance company (especially if they are unresponsive)

If you are in a situation where you feel you are not being treated fairly, and your claim is in excess of $10,000, it might be time to contact a public adjuster.

The process is on-going with this client, but we’ll post an update when a conclusion has been reached.

Amanda Regelin

Senior Project Manager (Residential and Commercial Divisions)

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/

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Tips on finding the RIGHT general contractor for YOU!

Finding a general contractor is not an easy task for a homeowner.  Firstly, there are several contractors who lack the experience, precision, and commitment.  Secondly, the process of selecting a company that will be managing your biggest life investment must be researched carefully.  Finally, recommendations from friends and architects who have experience with the contractor, contractor references, and testimonials will assist in making this difficult decision.

Things have changed significantly in the construction industry since the United States entered a recession.  Contractors are neglecting to carry the proper insurance policies for general liability and worker’s compensation, which places liability in the homeowner’s lap, should something go wrong on the jobsite (http://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-are-risks-hiring-unlicensed-contractor.htm).  Contractors are requesting payments in cash, and commitments to projects without formal contracts or scheduling.  This can be dangerous for homeowners who trust their contractors to pay suppliers and subcontractors on time (or if at all).

We suggest the following in your quest for the right GC: (Additional suggestions from other reputable sources can be found at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20539027,00.html, http://www.networx.com/article/top-3-things-to-look-for-in-a-general-co)

  • Investigate the contractor’s experience through website and other social media.  Read testimonials and contact their references.  Consider the high quality in the contractor’s past work and his abilities to manage previous projects depending on size, details and difficulty.
  • When a contractor does not treat your project as a priority, or refuses to break down your pricing, consider this a red flag.  A GC that is committed to you and offers an “open book” has nothing to hide.
  • Make sure your contractor is insured properly and forwards insurance certificates and a subcontractor list of workers on your jobsite.  Consider a builder’s risk policy on your project during construction.  Your contractor can have this policy issued through his insurer for approximately 1% of total construction costs (http://www.insurance4usa.com/home-insurance-whilebeingbuilt.cfm).
  • Carefully consider when a contractor refuses to work anything but “cash only”, without a contract or schedule, and without the proper legal paperwork for payout procedures (http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=16070471).  Require your contractor and his subcontractors and suppliers to issue waivers of lien with each payout.  Unless you have very deep pockets, and enjoy giving money away, consider comprehensive pricing up-front to assist you in keeping track of where your money is going.  An honest contractor that runs a true general contracting business will have no problem offering this in his services.
  • The best project will be completed by the contractor who has made you a priority, and has been involved since day one.  Make sure you understand what is included in the proposal, and be careful not to jump on the low bid…As the old saying goes “Pick any two”, cost, quality or schedule.

o        Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap.

o        Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality.

o        Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a relatively long time.

 

  • Shopping bids between contractors (i.e. showing a contractor another contractor’s bid) is unethical and tends to contaminate bids by losing the “apple-to-apple” comparison, especially in conceptual budgets.  Crown does not bid shop with our subcontractors – each price on your proposal is the price the subcontractor is paid.

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348

 

Keeping Your Job Site Clean…and Safe!

In the busy, ever-changing atmosphere of construction sites, it is essential to maintain cleanliness and orderly job sites for many reasons including safety, protection of existing and new materials and finishes, and establishing integrity and pride in your organization.

Many steps can be taken to ensure your site is clean and safe.  Crown Construction Contracting has an in-house safety committee to monitor our safety records and job site superintendent and subcontractor meetings on a weekly basis.  Keeping all parties aware of cleanliness and safety can reduce the potential for lawsuits against the parties involved, including most importantly, your client!

According to OSHA, the top frequently cited infractions include fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, electrical and wiring, industrial trucks, ladders, and electrical systems design (OSHA, n.d.).  Toolboxtopics.com is a wonderful site to access safety meeting guidelines for your job sites. It is important to identify potential construction hazards before an accident occurs.  Some of these hazards include bad housekeeping, tripping hazards (electrical cords and power tools), proper electrical grounding, proper installation and maintenance of scaffolding and ladders,  slippery surfaces such as oil, ice or water, proper lighting in darker areas, and workers without protective gear (hard hats, safety vests and eye protection).

Protection of existing and new materials and finishes is essential to every project.   Costs should be anticipated up-front, included in the general conditions of your project, and communicated with your client.  Each subcontractor should also anticipate the use of protection such as, dust barrier walls (for remodeling), masonite for floor protection, surface shields to eliminate construction dust and debris from entering ductwork, surface protection of cabinetry and counter tops, as well as special care to the exterior landscaping to minimize disruption to every area of the project.  Taking these important preventive steps will not only result in a smoother running project, but eliminate expenses and schedule delays for unanticipated repair work.

Some examples of protection can be found at https://www.zipwall.com/, http://www.surfaceshields.com/duct-protection, http://www.surfaceprotection.com/cabinetprotection.aspx, and http://www.ramboard.com/.

Finally, maintain a clean and organized job site, not only to eliminate confusion and the risk of lost or damaged material, but to reinforce the commitment your company and team members have to your projects.  Leaving a job site in a state of disrepair can give the impression that the overall job will not be one of utmost quality, and can leave a lasting impression to your clients that will easily translate into a word of mouth failure to future potential customers.

Please feel free to contact us at info@crownbuilds.com or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348

Tool Box Topics (n.d.).  Identifying Construction Hazards.  Retrieved from toolboxtopics.com

United States Department of Labor (n.d.).  Occupational Safety & Health Administration.  Commonly Used Statistics.  Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html