Speed, Quality or Money: Be Wary of Fast Growing Websites That Are Overrun by Shady Contractors

NBC just investigated a contractor matching service and found that 60% of the contractors providing bids are unlicensed. Many ripped off clients by running away with the deposit money or not completing the work.  At New Avenue we are not surprised. We built a project management system the eliminates the risk of these scams happening.  Then we recruited a network of architects and builders who we can trust. We work with our partners for years to create efficient processes and verify that the trust we put in our architects and contractors is well placed.

Matchmaking sites don’t help with the significant risks of quality, licensing and payments.  New Avenue protects owners from all three of those risks.  The nightmares and theft noted in this piece by NBC won’t happen on New Avenue.

These three lessons are critical to remember:

  1. If you focus on speed you sacrifice quality
  2. If you focus on large numbers of vendors you lose the personal standards of licensing, insurance, and integrity.
  3. If you focus on just matching people you overlook managing the project and managing payments and people get ripped off.

New Avenue makes all three of these risks go away.  We replace them with a quality experience, proven contractors we’ve learned to trust over years, and a payment processing platform that makes sure you only pay for the work after it is done.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Popular-Website-Allows-Unlicensed-Contractor-to-Solicit-Business-423198104.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_BAYBrand

The reporters sum it up well.  Take your time, check their license and by law contractors can only charge up to $1,000 or 10% of the total job up front. The rest is paid as the work is completed.

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Cost of a two story office, bathroom, mudroom addition

This story addition with an office, master bath, laundry and storage/mudroom.  This is about 300 square feet and it is costing just under $200,000.
This ground floor will be an office:
Addition of a ground floor office
Addition of a ground floor office

The second floor will be a utility, mud, bathroom and storage.

Second floor mudroom bath and storage

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

5 things you might find in a new $1,000,000 home

We recently bid a 3,000 square foot custom home in the heart of Silicon Valley.  I grew up in a 1910 Sears Catalog home that would sell for $180,000 today.  $1,000,000 is an insane amount of money. Except it’s quite common today.
At $333 per square foot I have to admit, I was surprised this wasn’t more expensive…
Because this home is in the most expensive real estate market in the country. People can spend $1,000+ per square foot in this town.
Because it is designed with magazine quality, fantasy finishes.
So, let’s see what kind of goodies techies drop their money on:)
These are the five big purchases that I find most interesting:
– Fancy staircase
– Special cut hardwood flooring
– 4 exquisite bathrooms (in a three bedroom home)
– Custom kitchen cabinets
– A 10 piece wall of windows and sliding doors.
Here are some details about these finishes:
–  A special order $38,000 staircase.  This is the kind you’ll see in Dwell Magazine.  The staircase has floating wooden steps, a structural steel stringer, steel supports, and a metal wire railing.
Inline image 2
– 35,000 hardwood flooring that is “rift sawn”.  Rift sawn is the most expensive way to harvest wood from a tree trunk, it’s also the hardest and most durable.
Inline image 3
Rift Sawn
– $5,600 in glass shower doors, tile everywhere, waterproof floors throughout.
– $36,000 in custom kitchen cabinets

– 10 part glass doors running the full length of the kitchen and living area.  A truly open living area like this, in earthquake country, with another story above requires that you build the walls like building a steel skyscraper vs. a traditional wood framed house.
Inline image 4
To see some of the design of this home, and the full budget, you can read another post here.
Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Cost of a custom home in Silicon Valley

We recently completed a bid for a 2,886 square foot custom home in Los Altos, CA.  This is the heart of Silicon Valley.

This is a just under $1,000,000 for just under 3,000 square feet.  That budget does not include the architecture, engineering and permitting which can be another $250,000.

You can review the full bid 2886 Los Altos Bid

The home was a small ranch home that is being torn down and rebuilt as a 3-bed, 4-bath plus an office.

An elevation, or the exterior view of the home:

Los Altos Elevation

An elevation of the front of the home: Los Altos Elevation 2

The first floor plan:

Los Altos Ground Floor Jpeg

The second floor master bedroom, master bath and office:

Second Floor Master Suite

A quick rendering to get a sense of the size and look – details are intentionally left out of this:

2,886 Square Foot Los Altos Home

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

 

3 Easy Steps to Get A Construction Estimate or A Fixed Price Construction Bid

If you are an owner or architect you can get a contractor bid in three easy steps.

Keep in mind, a good bid for a remodel or new build can easily take 30-40 hours of work – so while it’s easy for you to ask for one, you are asking for a lot from the contractor.

Here are the steps:

1) Load your plans, pictures and notes.
2) Click the button “ask a New Avenue admin for help”
3) We will follow up with you to set up an initial call.  A proven New Avenue contractor will meet with you and then enter their fixed price bid on your project page.
It’s simple and transparent.  We won’t send your information to anyone other than our local vetted partner.
First load the plans and/or pictures you want estimated to the timeline and click “make visible to bidders”.

Inline image 2

2) Contact us.  We have contractors in almost every major city. If we don’t have a proven partner already, we are really good at finding a new one and we will invest 10-20 hours of our own time to find one.

To add your own contractor sign into your New Avenue project page, click on the Proposals & Bids tab, and then select the blue button for + “Invite my own pros” then enter your contractor’s email.  They will get an invitation to see the information you loaded. They don’t see anything else.

Inline image 1

3) Review your bids.   The estimate or bid will be posted in New Avenue’s standard format. The team who is on the project page gets an email. This is usually an architect, and the owners.  All of you can sign in and can see the bids or download them.
Inline image 3
This is the bid format.
Don’t be intimidated by all those rows.  Even a $2,000,000 home only uses about 1/3 of them.  For example, you can view or download this expensive custom home Bid Example.  You will most likely have about 40 line items in your bid.
The rest will be left blank.  We show you all of these lines because it’s really  useful to see what you are not getting!  You don’t want to be surprised that landscaping, a driveway or a deck isn’t included!

Cost of a remodel and restoration of a 100+ year old historic home in The San Francisco Bay Area

This article is part of a series of posts on real project costs.  New Avenue is the leading national design/build network.  Our architect and contractor partners use our online platform to provided their bids and process their invoices.  As such we get a unique collection of project costs.  We share these costs to help inform owners, architects and contractors. 

You can review the actual construction budget for the restoration of a 110 year old 4,800 square foot home. This restoration included an almost gut remodel and seismic steel frame throughout. This home is located in the gold coast neighborhood of Alameda.

4800 square feet of remodeling

Construction Budget 4,800 square foot restoration 1908_70 Lines

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Should I create an addition, backyard cottage, or remodel?

New Avenue starts every project with our 30 questions. You can skim these questions and answer a few of them in five minutes or you can spend an hour.  We recommend you spend about 15 minutes.

These questions are based on thousands of past client meetings. We also collect feedback during construction changes and figure out what we have to ask early on in the process so we can avoid making the same costly mistakes in the future.

A client recently contacted us with some questions about what to do with their home. They are in their 60s and want to make a long term plan for how to use their home.

Here are a few of our questions and their answers.  Their full design proposal is below too:

Q: What do you want to do?

A: We would like to add a rental unit to our existing two story & 5 bedroom & 3.5 bath home.  We really do not know if we should do an addition or add a cottage/tiny house to the backyard, so we need help.

Q: What are you using this new space for?

A: We would like to rent it out either as a sublet or airbnb for extra income.

Q: If applicable, what is the 25-50 year plan for your project? For example, you may be renting out an inlaw unit and will eventually move in later.

A: We are not really sure. We could move into the new unit eventually.   We are in our 60’s so we hope it’s a 50 year plan. (:-)).

After reviewing all of the answers and questions they submitted in their Goals & Ideas questionnaire on www.newavenuehomes.com, one of our local designers met with them and provide this Design Proposal.

We’re excited that they quickly approved the proposal and design is beginning this summer.

To get this project started the owners:

  1. Filled out the Goals & Ideas survey on Newavenuehomes.com
  2. Set up a call with a New Avenue project admin to review the design/build process
  3. Paid $250 to have a Design Session with a vetted New Avenue designer
  4. Met with the designer
  5. Received a Design Proposal and clicked approve.

You can read or download the Design Proposal here: Cost of Oakland Basement Conversion to Accessory Dwelling Desig

 

Cost of a basement foundation with egress window

An architect in our network is considering adding a 400 square foot basement below a new 400 square foot addition.
It’s odd that basements are such a rare thing around here.  Basements are standard for the rest of the country.
To excavate a 20’x20′ space, it will cost $25,000.  This includes the excavation and to haul off 150 yards of soil.
Exporting soil has a fee of $700 a load.  A load in a dump truck is 7-8 yards.
20’x20′ x 8′ deep is 120 yards of soil. That is 17 loads an $15,000 in fees to the transfer station/dump
4 days labor plus machinery is $1,200/day = $5,000 for labor and machinery
Shoring is additional.
The foundation footings will be about $8,000
The foundation walls will be poured concrete for another $8000
With a contractor doing this it would be $40,000.
That’s 400 square feet for $40,000.
You can finish this space for a very reasonable cost too.
This is such a good value. Around here, real estate is valued at $900+ per square foot and construction costs are usually $300-$500+ per square foot.  There is a lot of value in a basement.
It’s tempting to have fun with this idea now…
  • Add radiant floor heat.
  • You could get a bedroom or two into a 400 square foot footprint and rent it out
  • Add a basement bar
  • Add a playroom for the kids
  • An office
  • Media room
  • Music room
This is making me wonder why we don’t do basements all the time!

Cost to build a large custom home (5,000 square foot 5 bed six bath)

This article is part of a series of posts on real project costs.  New Avenue is the leading national design/build system.  Homeowners and contractors enter bids  in our system and send and receive payments for completed work.  Any changes are submitted by the contractor and approved by the owner before the budget changes.  This keeps your project budget transparent, fair and under control.   It’s like PayPal for remodeling and building.  We get a unique ability to collect the complete project costs.  We share these costs to help inform owners, architects and contractors. 

If an owner does not have a team in place, we have a network of proven architects and contractors who are committed to creating homes that make owners healthier, wealthier and happier. 

A custom home is often a once in a lifetime project.  A dream home that is custom designed, permitting and built within two hours of a major city is an entirely different project from a tract home or existing home.

This following budget is for a 5,000 square foot custom home.   This was architect designed and custom built.  The construction costs include every detail needed for the contractor to complete the home. Your project will certainly be different however costs for a home of this quality are comparable outside of any major metro area.

 

Here is a list of the almost 100 line items used to track the progress and pay for work as it is completed.

General Conditions Allowance

Mobilization $ 1,500.00

Sanitary Facilities $ 1,500.00

Dumpsters $ 6,500.00

Progress Cleaning $ 1,000.00

Final Cleaning $ 1,500.00

Project Supervison $ 25,000.00

Shop Drawings & Samples & Mock-Ups $ 4,000.00

Silt Fencing & Erosion Control $ 1,800.00

Sub- total $ 42,800.00

Site Work

Demolition $ 19,500.00

Excavation $ 18,000.00

Backfill & Drainage $ 17,000.00

Rough Grading $ 14,000.00

Rain Gardens $ 9,500.00

Utility Trenching $ 12,000.00 *

Road Cleaning $ 2,500.00

Driveway $ 18,680.00

Tree Clearing $ 1,000.00

Excavate for Retaining Walls and Propane Tank $ 5,000.00

sub-total $ 117,180.00

Concrete and Masonry

Concrete Foundation and Slab $ 55,200.00

Foundation Waterproofing $ 2,100.00

Boulder Wall and trench drain $ 25,000.00

Stone Veneer on Foundation $ 30,800.00

Chimney veneer $ 5,500.00

Front Entry Step $ 2,800.00

Polished Concrete Floor $ 5,000.00

Division 3- sub-total $ 126,400.00

Division 4- Metals

Structural Steel $ 2,500.00

Gutters $ 2,000.00

sub-total $ 4,500.00

Wood and Plastics

Framing Materials $ 55,000.00

Exterior Materials $ 30,000.00

Interior Materials $ 16,500.00

Framing Labor $ 80,000.00

Exterior Labor $ 45,000.00

Interior Labor $ 82,000.00

General Labor $ 8,000.00

Porch /Deck/Railings(allowance) $ 31,500.00

Outdoor Shower $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 351,500.00

Windows/Doors

Anderson Windows and Exterior Doors $ 43,000.00

Garage Door- (allowance) $ 3,000.00 A

Interior Doors $ 6,500.00

sub-total $ 52,500.00

Thermal and Moisture

Insulation $ 28,000.00

Roof $ 23,600.00

Roof top Snow Melt $ 2,500.00

sub-total $ 54,100.00

Division 8- Finishes

Drywall $ 21,200.00

Exterior Painting $ 20,500.00

Interior Painting $ 28,000.00

Kitchen Counter(allowance) $ 8,500.00

Flooring- Wood $ 29,900.00 A $6.50 per sf for material

Tile Material (allowance) $ 11,000.00

Tile – Install, waterproof, setting(allowance) $ 18,500.00

sub -total $ 137,600.00

Millwork

Kitchen Cabinet (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Bath Cabinets and Counters (allowance) $ 15,000.00

Master Walk-in Closet (allowance) $ 3,000.00

Closets and Shelving (allowance) $ 5,000.00

Bunk Beds and other Cabinets (allowance) $ 7,500.00

Fireplace Surrounds and Related (allowance) $ 3,500.00

Medicine Cabinets (allowance) $ 1,200.00

Stairs $ 19,500.00

Workbench $ 1,500.00

Balcony Rail $ 2,300.00

sub total $ 93,500.00

Specialties

Door, Bath and Cabinet Hardware (allowance) $ 16,750.00

Plumbing Fixtures, Shower Glass and Mirrors(allowance)$ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 41,750.00

Equipment

Appliances(allowance) $ 35,000.00

Generator – 22kw $ 8,500.00

Zero Clearance Fireplace Unit (allowance) $ 8,000.00

Appliance Install $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 55,000.00

Mechanical

HVAC $ 55,000.00

Plumbing $ 29,000.00

Propane Tank $ 4,300.00

Gas Piping $ 1,200.00

HRV/ERV $ 4,000.00

sub-total $ 93,500.00

Electrical

Electrical Service $ 5,900.00

Electrical Rough in $ 52,800.00

Electrical Fixtures (allowance) $ 20,000.00

Alarm Install (allowance) $ 2,000.00

TV, Data (allowance) $ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 105,700.00

Landscaping

Stone Paths $ 2,530.00

Soil/Seed (allowance) $ 12,000.00

Irrigation(allowance) $ 5,000.00

Stone Dock(allowance) $ 15,000.00

Shore Protection (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Stone Patio $ 5,750.00

Landscape Misc(allowance) $ 10,000.00

sub-total $ 85,280.00

Sub-total $ 1,361,310.00

GC Fee- $ 204,196.50

Total $ 1,565,506.50

No matter what you are considering, the New Avenue platform is the easiest way to get organized, get bids, hire a team and manage your project.

You can download the full budget in the New Avenue system format here: Country House Budget

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Architects and Contractors… Who’s the Project Manager?

At New Avenue we are often asked what we charge for the Project Manager.
The short answer, is our network of proven architects and contractors manage the design and construction so well that a project manager would be a waste of time and money.
Architects manage the design and permitting. Contractors manage all of the sub-contractors and on-site construction.  With this done right, there is no need for an extra project manager.
 An hourly project manager fee would be redundant to the services the architect and contractor should provide.  That fee would be $100/hour or more and that adds up to $30,000 or more during the course of a project.  It is a waste of your money.  Even worse, you can get a project manager who ends up playing the telephone game and relaying messages back and forth between the owner, architects and builder. Our platform does that for free, and it has a better memory than any person can ever have! 🙂
Part of the role of the contractor is to be your on-site project manager.   If your project is big enough (near or over $1,000,000) then your contractor will most likely have a site foreman who acts as a project manager. This person is part of the contractor’s crew.  Part of the role of your architect is to provide an addition pair of eyes and the professional opinion as a design professional.  All of these services are quoted and billed hourly.
At New Avenue we built the management platform and recruited a network of over 1500+ people who can deliver an exceptional experience and quality anywhere in the country.
Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started
Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call from our founder, Kevin Casey, just click here and tell us when to call you.