Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Residential Architect?
A residential architect is a professional who designs dwellings.
An Architect is your representative. Architect's don't provide a product, like a contractor, they provide a Service, just like a lawyer, or even a doctor. The value of the documentation Architects provide is in the information inside. When you hire an Architect, you are gaining access to the Architect's knowledge, experience, and intelligence.
How much does it cost to build an addition?
How much will it cost me to renovate my home?
These are the most frequent questions I hear from people. The prominence of cable TV shows has falsely led many people to think that they can make changes to their houses in very little time at very little cost. I understand the allure of these TV shows, as I grew up watching Bob Villa on This Old House. That show helped inspire me to become an architect. Unlike the shows today, where a complete renovation is often seen in the span of 30 minutes, This Old House stayed with a project for an entire season. It was a slow show, but it was done at that speed because that's the real speed of construction.
Most of the renovations you see on TV are on wood-frame homes in other parts of the country with building codes, building materials and costs different from South Florida. Here in Florida, most of the homes built in the last 60 years are built of concrete block to resist hurricane-force winds. Most of the time we use impact-rated windows. Our solar load is tremendous, and air-conditioning is essential. Roofs must be carefully engineered and constructed to stay in place during a storm. Construction in South Florida is slow and expensive.
Some general rules of thumb:
The bigger the job, the less expensive per square foot. Let's say you're completely renovating a bathroom. You want to expand the bathroom into an adjacent closet, bring the electrical up to code, add sound insulation in the walls, and have all new fixtures, cabinetry, tile and finishes. If this is the scope of your entire job, it will be more expensive per foot than if you were renovating the whole house. Every trade involved needs to make it worth their while to come to your house, because they could be engaged in a bigger job with a larger fee. The trades make up for this by adding fee to smaller jobs, so the costs increase. A general contractor may charge 20-25% in fees for a small job, but only 10-15% for larger jobs.
Always use a General Contractor. General Contractors are the construction version of Excedrin. They exist to prevent you from having to deal with the headaches of construction. You can certainly be your own contractor, but it's a large task. The onsite supervision offered by your contractor's job foreman is worth the money. You won't know what you've overlooked until the costs of your omission have eaten through the money you thought you'd save by skipping the supervision. Interview Contractors. Don't judge them by cost alone. You are going to want to find a contractor that feels right for you. If you don't like them from the very beginning, or if you don't feel like you can trust them, don't hire them! The project is at its easiest before the dust is in the air.
The average starting price for a pool is about $40k.
The average starting price for a kitchen is about $40k.
The average starting price for a master bathroom renovation is $25k.
The average price for a new addition to a modest home is $250-300 per square foot.
I want to be clear. You can probably find someone to build a less expensive pool. Depending on the size of your kitchen, you may be able to come in under 40k. You may even be able to build your addition for $200/sf. Sadly, I have spent hours talking to potential clients who have unrealistic expectations of construction costs. If you use the numbers above to develop a preliminary budget, you will have greater success in planning for your home renovation or addition.