I happen to love the construction process but that is certainly not
the case with everyone. For projects that are located outside of the New York Metropolitan area, construction usually amounts to a new home build. In NYC construction is 8 out of 10
of my projects and is always a renovation of some kind. Everything is older here and
space is a commotity so making the best use of your space - both aesthetically and functionally is very important.
Purchasing your Own Materials: KEYWORD OWN
Anyone, and I really mean anyone that is doing any form of construction/rehab, a word of warning: Always buy whatever
materials (lumber, cabinets, flooring, sheetrock, plumbing, tile, sprinkler system, lighting, etc., etc) you need for a project seperately with your own credit card/checkbook. You own it. Not the
contractor. In all due respect to contractors/subs, never ever let a contractor or anyone else purchase materials other than yourself, esp. if you don't know them well. You can go with the
contractor, but the actual register purchase should be with your own credit card/checkbook as the rightful owner.
Reason: If you ever have a falling out or dispute with anyone working on your project who purchased project materials,
that they could easily claim it as theirs, take off site (steal??) or whatever, and still they bill you for it even if they never finish the project or left the materials on site, good luck trying to
get it back in a dispute or if they walk off the job. Let's say you get into a dispute, you fail to pay them or withhold payment or the contractor/sub fails to show up again or whatever, and you have
paid them some monies already, well, technically, until you pay for all materials, under most state laws, those materials are not yours. If you personally purchased the materials seperately from the contractor/sub, that is your property irrespective of any disputes/claims
the parties may have. You want to purchase and own the materials yourself, even if you have to go with the contractor/sub to do so, and it may be a pain, but having rightful ownership will at least
mitigate any future disputes that may arise.
For the client's who wish to engage construction in the home and have concerns regarding their budget, removing all the "hands in
the pot" is the first and best way to reduce your construction cost. Directly purchasing all of the materials that you will need yourself will significantly eliminating the various trades from
marking those materials up. This is a great way to keep costs down and is an enormous savings.
Whenever you pay someone to pay someone else, you can gaurantee yourself that there is money being tacked on the price as it lands
in the lap of the each middle man. Most of the time that extra ionflation in money can be as much as double to triple of what the actual purchase price was.
Contractors would probably drop me in cement somewhere after reading this but it's the truth. My
allegience has to always be with my client and their budget. I work differently in the sence that I work with a highly skilled group of individuals who are both licensed and insured but when
they work with me they work labor only. Of course not every person is equipped to purchase all the materials needed. They dont know what to buy, the terminology and the detailed things to
ask for. therefore my clients are the beneficiaries of this.
"Having the best of the best":
Another way to reduce your construction costs is to break down your wish list and decide what can be just purchased
from a showroom and what items on that list could be price shopped. There will be items on the list that you absolutely must have the best of and there are others that you dont actually
have to have to have the best of. This best/second best outline is different for every client. However, if the goal is to keep the costs down and to have enough money left to maybe
furnish your home after constrcution is over then you will have to wake yourself up to this reality.
A third way to reduce your construction costs is to purchase certain materials you need from the
world of remnant showrooms and on line remnant dealers. Materials such as sinks, marble, flooring, lighting,
doors, moldings are available in several remnant sources all around the city and on line.
There are so many auctions in and out of the city that deal in so many of the items you would need in your construction
project. You have to be diligent and patient but there are many many deals to be had indeed.
I have been a construction manager for thirty years now and I have always said there are two types of contractors.
One that has a clip board and drives around in a mercedes and the other who has no clip board and drives around in a dirty truck. Being that I am very experienced in all phases of
construction, I prefer the ladder.
Construction should never be viewed through rose tinted glasses or with fear of the unknown. You need to put a
good team together and unfortunately if you dont want to pay through the nose - whether you like it or not - YOU WILL HAVE TO BE INVOLVED! You need to embrace the reality of construction instead of
wishing it didnt have to happen or that you didnt have to be involved. Toughen up a bit, roll your sleeves up and realize that it encompasses the most "change" brought about on your project and enjoy
the many hurdles, suprises and improvements that are being made during this filthy process.
I have always believed that assumption is a very bad thing. Most people view construction as a huge mountain of
costs that they can never tackle. This is mainly because they "assume" one thing or another about the costs, timing, etc. THIS IS WHAT I TELL ALL OF MY CLIENTS. IT COSTS ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING TO GET AN ESTIMATE. ASSUMING YOU KNOW WHAT THINGS ACTUALLY COSTS IS SILLY. IF WE BECOME INTELLIGENT ABOUT THE COSTS THEN WE CAN MAKE A SOUND DECISION AS TO HOW TO MOVE FORWARD.
"OK You can afford it but can you handle it"
The disrupting factor level of construction is definitely measured on whether the client will be liovign through it or
moving out. Both of those scenarios have their ups and downs. The living through it is obvious and the moving out scenario if also daunting because of the costs and inconveinece
issue. I have delt with both scenarios and what ensues form them countless amount of times. In my opinion, moving out to an affordable place is the best becuasee when clients live through
it it significatly slows up the process.
Whatever scenario gets chosen most deesigner's know that there is one day FOR EVERY CLIENT where they absolutely just lose
it. It could be dust on there clothes, an unforeseen setback, late materials or slow workers but inevitably there will be one day where there will be screaming. I've seen everything under
the sun when it comes to residential construction and have survived it all.
One last piece of advise. Do your due diligence prior to signing with a contractor. Request to
skype his references (you could be talking to his son if you dont!).
In addition, know your process and materials that are needed and have everything humanly possible in the initial
contract before you start because there is nothing that contractors love and client's hate more than EXPENSIVE EXTRAS!