“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
The latest on our first floor remodel (encompassing kitchen, family room, and eating area). It was the end of August when we finally got bids back from four builders (three selected by our architects and one that we selected based on a referral that we got from someone who had used them). As expected, the bids all came in beyond our budget, but what was unexpected was how BIG the “miss” was as far as what the architects had scoped and what we actually had wanted to take on. Let’s just say that all-in with construction costs, architect fees, and appliance budget we were landing somewhere between 75-100% higher than desired.
Once we recovered from the shock, we sat down with our architect, Christine from Albertsson Hansen, and had a difficult talk about expectations, gave feedback on project management (the project manager, Maria, was an associate architect who has since left the company – which may explain some of the issues, though certainly doesn’t excuse them), and discussed some of our hesitations in moving forward with our plans with them given the perceived disregard for our budget constraints in what they designed.
I had to pretty much talk my husband down from the ledge, as he was all but ready to halt work with the architects and bid out the project on his own or work directly with a builder. This was NOT something I was up for, as despite the issues we were having with the architects I still could see past that to the purpose of using them and what they brought to the remodeling process (even if it was, at times, frustrating). After our discussion in which we scaled back areas of the plans and called out areas where we could trim costs we were all feeling slightly better. My husband was persuaded to let Christine help us interview two of the four builders, and we’d go from there to re-work the estimates with both builders.
Chad from Platinum Remodeling was the first person we met with, he seemed like a very down-to-earth and eager person. However, in our first meeting there was definitely something about his “sales guy” bent that I was not feeling completely comfortable. I kept feeling like he would say anything to make us happy when in reality, I wondered about his company’s ability to deliver.
We met with Harry from Harry Jensen Construction a week later. My impression of him was more positive in regards to his demeanor but also I got the sense he was a conservative builder, and a craftsman. That is, he was more deliberate about his answers and though a tad more aloof, this may have been because he correctly read the situation that he was a dark-horse versus Platinum as they were the lower cost bidder and a personal referral.
At the end of the day the two bids were ~$14,000 apart, a not insignificant amount. To allay my fears about apples-to-apples comparison of work quality for the price, I wanted to see an example of Platinum’s work. Fortunately Chad was kind enough to schedule a visit to a recently completed kitchen and I have to say that reduced my wariness as the work was high quality and even our architect conceded that it seemed to be executed well.
After all of those weeks of back and forth, we’re nearly signed with Platinum, but they cannot begin construction until first week of November anyway due to their other projects. At this point we’ll be living through this major remodel straight through Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’re saying it’s about a three-month project. HUGE bummer. But, despite the emotional roller coaster so far, we’re both becoming more excited as we anticipate actually starting this project and seeing some of the old walls and decor finally come down! Will be sure to post demo pics when the time comes.