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- Estimating Checklist
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Cost overruns are certainly common in renovation work, but there are steps you can take to try to anticipate some of them.
Below is a long—yet hardly exhaustive—list of costs common to renovation projects. You probably won't have to add a line item for each of these for your job, but if you see one you think you'll encounter and it doesn't appear on your budget, find out why. Is it part of the contractor's overall price? Or a sub's? Don't assume: Ask the question, then put the representation in writing. Here goes ...
Do you need to arrange for tree removal or clearing of other vegetation? How about demolition of existing hardscape (patios, walls, etc.). Will precautions be necessary to prevent soil erosion during and after excavation? Are there landscape features (like mature trees) that need protection?
Your estimates should specify what is to be done, which may include digging the foundation hole, hauling off unwanted fill, back filling after the foundation is done, and final grading. If there will be drains in or around the foundation, your excavation contractor may install them, so references to crushed stone and drain tile should appear on the estimate.
Has the foundation contractor figured in pounng the footings, walls, pads, bulkhead access, and/or slab? Are there poured concrete walkways in the plans and in the estimate? What about insulating the foundation? If your designer has specified it, the cost should be included in the price. What about sealing the foundation with an asphalt-based or other sealer? Is that included in the price? Is other drainage or waterproofing necessary?
If the builder has prepared his estimate on the basis of careful specifications, the estimate should cover framing the walls, floors, and roof with a specified grade of lumber. Green lumber might cause headaches down the line, shrinking as it dries. Kiln-dried hem-fir is the norm, but you might want a higher grade of Douglas fir. In some urban areas, steel studs are required by the fire codes. The exterior walls should be covered with sheathing and the roof with a subroof of plywood, oriented strand board, or roofers. If the design calls for laminate or steel beams, steel columns, or roof trusses, check to be sure the builder has incorporated those into his estimate.
The builder, or a roofing subcontractor, should specify the materials to be used (asphalt shingle, cedar, tile or slate, per the specs), as well as flashing and roofing paper. Particularly in homes in colder regions with dense layers of insulation, ventilation is also important. Are there roof or soffit vents specified?
There'll be a layer of material wrapping the exterior of the house, perhaps building paper or house wrap. The type of siding should be specified (clapboard, shingle, brick veneer, board and batten), and the material (perhaps pine or cedar) as well as the pattern. The door and window trim, the corner boards, the trim at the eaves (fascia, soffit, frieze, or rake boards) should be consistent with the specifications or clearly described in the estimate. In cases where you want your addition to blend with your original house, you and the contractor may be well served by a general description like, "Siding and other exterior trim will be done in materials and a manner consistent with existing exterior finish."
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