J.Schwartz,llc Construction Blog (PAHIC#861)

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What your plans mean to you vs. what they may mean to a contractor.

Often times, J. Schwartz,llc will be presented with a set of Architectural drawings for a project – whether it be a new custom home, or an addition/renovation. The home-owner has done their due-diligence in the selection of an Architect, and has spent countless hours in the planning and selection process with that person before calling the contractors that they would like to bid on the project. The idea behind this is that now they have a set of drawings that can be bid, and they can get apples-to-apples comparisons and therefore receive the “best price”.
Sounds great, right? And it very well may work out that way, but we often see a few problems crop up with this methodology:
1. Once the project is priced, the cost is much higher than expected and is not affordable – leaving more expense and time to quite literally, go back to the drawing board (possibly, multiple times).
2. Often times after J. Schwartz,llc has been awarded a project, and the project is underway – the home-owner realizes that the design is missing something that they feel was integral to the new project – however, it is not on the drawing, and therefore may not fit in the current budget. We often hear, “but I told the Architect about it, so it should be included.” Well, it may be that there was a discussion about it, but J. Schwartz,llc, not having been involved in the planning and design process, was not privy to that conversation and can only build and price based on the plans that we were presented with for construction. Although we do spend a lot of time reviewing plans with our clients to make sure that the drawings are correct – J. Schwartz,llc must also make the strong assumption that the plans are what the client wants because they have spent their time and effort and money on them for the purpose of having them built. Please understand – I am not pointing fingers; sometimes conversations are misunderstood or forgotten, so this situation may not be anyone’s fault; but unfortunately, it also does not make a change free from costs. It should also be understood that a contractor OFTEN works on projects that are multi-phased. This means that projects are sometimes left (for example), without landscaping, or without the front walkway, etc. Therefore, if these items are not on the drawings, it does not necessarily throw up a red-flag that they are missing from the overall project; it only says that they are not included in the scope that is being put out for pricing.
The design-build approach does help alleviate this issue – we are involved in the process from “conception through completion” – so if discussions are had, we are there, if the plans are drawn, we were involved, and if budgets are surpassed – we know about it and can express that before it is too late.
The concern often comes up that if we are contracted based on a budget range, before the design is even started, than what reason do we have to get “best pricing”?
The answer is, that we want repeat business, that we enjoy our good reputation and want to keep it, and the real answer is that we bid our projects out to multiple subcontractors that we know are qualified to do the high-quality, schedule-minded work that we require of them; so they have a reason to be competitive. That being said, our proposal should therefore cost about the same as “the next guy” because they too should be bidding the project out; that is, if they have a complete scope and understanding of the project.

3. The adage “You get what you pay for” still works today. My material costs are the same as the next guy’s – and a good craftsman costs the same no matter who he works for, so be careful; I know I write about this all the time – MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOOKING AT A TRUE APPLES TO APPLES COMPARISON! Chances are that if there is a large price difference from legitimate contractors, someone missed something!
J. Schwartz,llc offers a full service design-build process; it’s intention is to decrease designs cost, increase construction accuracy, and one of its bonuses is that it fast-tracks the whole process by integrating budgeting and design.

Call us – we can discuss the particulars of your project and how this can apply to you.

posted by Joe Schwartz - J. Schwartz,llc at 6:58 pm  

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


J. Schwartz,llc was named one of the “TOP 500 REMODELERS” in the United States by Qualified Remodeler Magazine!This adds to the five other awards that were recently awarded to us – two CONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR AWARDS, TWO PINNACLE AWARDS, and a DREAM HOME AWARD.
We have been published in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, HOME AND GARDEN MAGAZINE, QUALIFIED REMODELER MAGAZINE, and others – and these are just the ones in 2008-2009!
We have some exciting projects going on now that we feel confident about winning awards for 2009-2010 – so keep in touch for more announcements!

posted by Joe Schwartz - J. Schwartz,llc at 6:24 pm  

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