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home designer vs. architect


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By John in Clark, NJ on 2/1/2009


Anybody have any experience using a home designer vs. an architect in New Jersey?

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By John in Clark, NJ on 2/1/2009


I'm located in Monmouth County, Spring Lake. I want to do a tear-down and I want to have plans (plan variations) drawn up to build either modular, stick, panelized ,whatever. I want to be able to solicit bids from the widest range of GCs -- I really don't think I'd be able to do the project myself but I think in this environment the GCs and tradesmen are all hungry for work and the prices at the GC level will be very attractive.

TIA

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By Nancy in Linwood, NJ on 2/2/2009


John,

We are using an architect . It is complicated work involving a tear-down located on the coast. My feeling is that an investment in a home building project requires the highest level of professional available. Not a place to cut corners.

NJ has so many building code requirements, especially the shore areas, you really need more than a designer.

Nancy


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By Nancy in Linwood, NJ on 2/2/2009


John,

We are finalizing plans for our house now. Then, out to bid. We put a post on a construction website for interested contractors and received emails from 100 miles away. Good time to shop.

Nancy

 


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By John in Clark, NJ on 2/2/2009


Thanks for your replies Nancy. Are you soliciting bids at the GC level or are you soliciting the various trades? This is a pretty expensive area and I'm seeing contractors coming from towns I've never heard of before. There are still a moderate number of tear-downs around here and it's the only game in town -- so to speak. The message in the book that came through loud and clear was get LOTS of bids, you just never know.

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By Nancy in Linwood, NJ on 2/2/2009


John,

We are getting bids for a GC. An experienced person told us to request the plans be drawn very detailed so an accurate bid can be given. We learned the hard way that each architect has their own standard for "adequate" drawings. How much detail you want should be discussed before your contract agreement is signed.

We plan to get five bids for a GC. We plan to pick some of the subs and will provide materials for some parts of the project.

Nancy


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By John in Clark, NJ on 2/2/2009


Nancy,

Thanks for taking the time to help me, I plan to talk to a few local architects to learn what I can with an initial consultation. What is the contractors website that you used? I've noticed a few new homes here used ICF for their foundations, all insulated and ready to be finished off for living space at a low SQ FT cost.

Thanks again,

John

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By Nancy in Linwood, NJ on 2/3/2009


John,

My husband used a website construction-bid.com. Just use Google and I am sure several will turn up.

 


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By Stan in Larrabee, NJ on 2/3/2009


Hi guys,

I was just reading your thread and wanted to offer a couple thoughts. I have owner-built five homes in two states, most recently in New Jersey about five years ago. My wife and I are planning a new project at the moment, hopefully to get moving late summer or early fall (all cash, no mortgage, we will be posting when progress starts).

After my retirement last year I got a contractors license, and started a small business (I am not looking for a job here), the internet referral programs make it a bit easier for you, but beware, many of the top guys don't use them. The best guys always have work. Be wary of GCs you get from these internet referral services, in order to get the referrals, all I have to provide is a license number (which is a matter of getting some insurance, paying the state 90 bucks and not be in any serious court disputes) and agree to pay per lead they send to me. Needless to say just about anyone can be referred. I am not saying you won't get any quality people just to beware of what you are doing.

I suggest you spend a little time riding around finding projects in progress, especially on a Saturday (if a guy is working on Saturday he is probably behind schedule and trying to catch up). Just ride up and chat with the guys working on the project, they will give you some leads, then talk to the leads, even if it is just a sub. Everyone in the business knows everyone's reputation and quality of work. It maybe tedious, but in this business it is the best way to find the best guys. Another place to get some leads is the building inspectors office, they inspect all the legal work in town and they know who does the best work.
I have never hired a GC, I always did that myself; but I have hired subs, and from experience, word of mouth referrals are by far the best. Another thought on this matter especially if you are working off a construction loan, time is money, paying a bit more for a contractor that is going to show up and do a quality job the first time can be worth thousands of dollars on the back side.

One last thought for today, I always purchased my own materials, although I also did a considerable amount of work on the homes myself. I have found that it is not always the most cost effective way to go. A couple examples are insulation and drywall. I have, in more than one case, had the entire job done for less than buying the materials. Contractors get huge discounts on these commodities. Now that I am on the other side of the fence, I also know that I get lumber at giant discounts just because of the volume, and that discount goes all the way to nails and glue. It is worth the set of prints to have your contractor price materials for you. Depending on the guy, you may get a better price and may be able to use his terms, usually 30 days. Depending on how you pay, you can keep that cash in your loan for up to 60 days or more (keeping your interest payments lower). Another reason to consider asking for a material quote from the contractor is delivery. I built a large deck for a client recently who insisted on purchasing his own materials. Being me, I agreed, no problem. Well the materials were supposed to be on site that day, and they were, after 5:00 in the evening. The client lost a day and had to pay for three guys sitting around waiting on materials, I doubt he saved much.

Building your own place is an awesome experience. I recommend to everyone, good luck.

Stan

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By Stan in Larrabee, NJ on 2/4/2009


Thanks Chuck, But at the end of the day, i love building my furniture, decks, sheds and the occasional whatever that someone wants.besides  all the competition is in NC. we just did a restaurant's deck furniture just south of myrtle beach. great fun; one of a kind furniture, I think everyone did well the perfect win / win.
I could give you my website but the monitors delete it so to keep things on the up and up I won't. not sure if you can email direct or the rules for that.

an update on the up coming mortgage free (From available cash) build, we had some progress about things today, so the new build is getting closer. The design is also getting close to perfect for us and less expensive to build. Having built more than one Neighborhood anchors, this new one is awesome to us and sure to lock in some value to surrounding homes.
get up and get it nailed!!
Stan


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