THE CARPENTER’S APPRENTICE

I write to share a story that had us laughing, at first, and then got us talking about changes in the building industry, the culture, and in the generations. First the funny part:

Read more...
THE CARPENTER’S APPRENTICE

Municipal Permits and Schedules

After an owner has gone through the work of hiring an architect or designer, finalizing the design and then choosing a contractor, they are naturally eager to begin construction. Besides negotiating the contract, choosing materials and working out design details, there is the "small" matter of securing the correct permits to begin work. When we first started out in business, getting a building permit was a pretty straightforward affair. For smaller jobs, we could just stroll right into the building department  (now known as Inspectional Services), and walk out with a permit. Permits for jobs that were more complicated or had major structural elements might take a week or so to get approval. 

Read more...
Municipal Permits and Schedules

GETTING PAST THE BLAME GAME

Building construction often does not go exactly according to plan. In fact, you can almost plan on it. The question is, how do we manage the unexpected, and keep the project on track?

Read more...
GETTING PAST THE BLAME GAME

ACCELERATED CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULES

One of the most common questions we get from owners, just after how much a project is going to cost, is “how long it will take?".  People who have experienced a renovation project before usually have a somewhat realistic idea of schedule.  We often say that were it not for permits and inspections, we might be able to shave months off a particular job. But the fact is that we, along with all of our above-board competitors, adhere to the requirements of municipal agencies and go by the book. This process has increased the length of projects more and more over the years. Not only does procuring a permit take longer, but once we have the permit, new types of inspections are required, depending on the town (such as screw pattern inspections in drywall… right Somerville ?).  

Read more...
ACCELERATED CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULES

ON-SITE MILLWORK FABRICATION SKILLS KEEP PROJECT ON SCHEDULE

Construction of this Craftsman style home's new grand entry was an example of how on-site millwork fabrication skills can furnish design and production efficiencies, keeping the project on schedule. While a third party vendor will generally fabricate custom millwork more economically than can be done on-site, in this case, significant on-site fabrication enabled the carpenters to help resolve design approval issues in real time and keep the project moving. Like every industry, more specialization has been the tendency, causing changes in the role of the lead carpenter. This trend is driven by technology, and efficiencies of scale, but there are often times when there is no substitute for agile and responsive problem solving, based upon long experience.

Read more...
ON-SITE MILLWORK FABRICATION SKILLS KEEP PROJECT ON SCHEDULE

Preliminary Guesstimates

We are often asked to provide preliminary estimates for building and renovation projects, prior to the development of clear and definitive plans and specifications. Estimates are, of course, more accurate, with a fully realized set of construction documents. But we know that preliminary estimates are a good way for architects and owners to get a rough idea of the cost of projects before fully committing to a design. Sometimes, preliminary plans have enough information to provide fairly accurate pricing, but in some cases, by necessity, estimates are more like guesstimates. In these situations, numbers will be based on our experience and whatever information we can gather from the architect and owner, regarding the level of finishes.

Read more...
Preliminary Guesstimates

Job Site Dangers in the Construction Business

By Doug Hanna

Building construction is a dangerous business. At a time when many jobs have moved from factory floors to cubicles, and from farms to malls, construction remains something that must be done on-site, by actual people. Those people, the people who work on your homes, face potential dangers every day. Electrical hazards, falls, and injuries from tools make up the majority of injuries suffered each year.

Read more...
Job Site Dangers in the Construction Business

The Difference Between Cost-Plus and Fixed Cost Contracts

By Doug Hanna

Recently I attended a three-day retreat with a group of contractors from different areas of the United States. This was an introductory meeting to see if our company would "make the cut" and be voted into this advisory group of contractors. We were indeed voted into the group, and so will attend a couple of meetings a year going forward. We regularly meet with local contractor/competitors involved in residential renovation and building, at networking and trade association events, where we always have an interesting exchange of ideas and experiences. However, this retreat allowed for more direct and honest criticism to be exchanged (along with the excuse to eat and drink more than usual). The contractors in the group come from non-competing markets, giving them the ability to share experiences and advice in a more open manner, without giving away all the state secrets.

Read more...
The Difference Between Cost-Plus and Fixed Cost Contracts

Living In a Construction Site - - Stay or Go?

By Doug Hanna

It's one of my favorite Clash songs. But it's also the subject of this month's letter because I'm referring to the decision many owners face when renovating their home. Along with other questions we typically ask people, today it is more important than ever to know whether an owner or family intends to stay in their home during a renovation.

Read more...
Living In a Construction Site - - Stay or Go?

Contractors Insurance - - What Homeowners Should Know

By Doug Hanna

Remodeling your home or building a new one is always very exciting. The anticipation of finally having your "dream house" can sometimes overshadow some of the issues that tend to get lost in the shuffle. Yes, it is critical that you use a contractor, architect, and designer that are a good fit for your project. But in the process, it is critical that you make sure your "team" - specifically your contractor, carries the appropriate insurance. Proper insurance is the "safety net" that protects everyone involved.

Read more...
Contractors Insurance - - What Homeowners Should Know

What Contractors Wish Homeowners Knew

By Doug Hanna

Recently, I was asked a popular question from an editor at SheKnows.com, "What do contractors wish homeowners knew?" With the popularity of DIY-everything nowadays, homeowners may be feeling a little more ambitious to do their own home renovation or remodeling. While there are some projects that can be done without hiring a contractor, we feel the bulk of your remodel or renovation should come from a professional. Given the complexity of today's projects, the new building technologies and the increasingly rigorous requirements of municipal, state and federal agencies, most projects are better left to licensed contractors.

Read more...
What Contractors Wish Homeowners Knew

Building Consultations - - Costs and Benefits

By Doug Hanna

A recent online discussion in the builder’s group NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) sparked some strong opinions from builders across the country. The hot topic being discussed is whether builders should charge for consultations and if so, how much. 

Read more...
Building Consultations - - Costs and Benefits