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Addition Estimates All Over The Place- UPDATED My experience getting an addition

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  • Oct 19th, 2019 7:45 am
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2009
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Addition Estimates All Over The Place- UPDATED My experience getting an addition

I recently purchased a bungalow in downtown Toronto and would like to add a second floor. I have met with two builders so far and the estimates have been vastly different. Both meetings were about an hour and I described what we were looking to have done. An 800 sqft addition with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a laundry room. The main floor (1000sqft) needs to be gutted as well, with the electrical and HVAC to be redone.

One estimate came in at $700,000 and the other $400,000.

We vaguely discussed finishes, but I am starting to think I should just be getting estimates for structure. The finishes swing so wildly that it might be chewing the estimates.

Thoughts?
Last edited by dgnr8 on Dec 15th, 2017 9:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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May 12, 2004
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Did they just pull numbers out of their ass? What written estimate with all changes and exact specifications did they give you? Just sit down and compare.

If they pulled their numbers out of their ass for a 3/4 mil job i woudlnt trust them to build me a $100 doghouse.
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[OP]
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Sep 5, 2009
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It was a preliminary visit, but yes, numbers out of the air.

For each visit we spoke for about an hour and then they ball parked a figure.

Next week I am meeting with a modular builder who said they actually provide a written estimate at the end of the meeting.
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Get 3 estimates, and ask for the quote in writing. Once they put pen to paper, they will give you an idea of pricing pretty fast, and it may not line up with their numbers provided already.
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Sep 20, 2008
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Cas77 wrote:
Dec 15th, 2017 10:29 pm
Did they just pull numbers out of their ass? What written estimate with all changes and exact specifications did they give you? Just sit down and compare.

If they pulled their numbers out of their ass for a 3/4 mil job i woudlnt trust them to build me a $100 doghouse.
Probably the higher quote does not want to do such a small job and overpriced it so they can move on. $400k for 800sq.ft. is also a high quote. But I'm sure they will ask OP to provide them floor plans to get a better quote.
Project 708
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Also get an estimate for teardown and rebuild. It's a necessary comparison point if you're embarking on a major renovation like this.

Keep in mind that major projects like this generally run over budget by 25% (if you're diligent and tight-fisted) to 100% (if you are easily persuaded to upgrade every little thing).
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Faemow wrote:
Dec 17th, 2017 10:52 am
$400k for 800sq.ft. is also a high quote.
Not necessarily. Just some very rough numbers below, but the costs add up quick:

Mobilization 5k
Demolition 15k
Structural/Framing 50k
HVAC 20k
Plumbing 20k
Electrical 20k
Roof 5k
Reclad Exterior 30k
Windows 25k
Insulation 10k
Drywall 15k
Paint 5k
Trim/Baseboard/Doors 10k
Tile/Hardwood 10k
Kitchen 25k
Bathrooms x 2 15k

Right there is 280k; add 20% for the GC, and another 13% for HST and you are at 380k. Note: this does not include things like permits, fireplaces, fixtures, landscaping, etc. etc. etc.
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James_TheVirus wrote:
Dec 17th, 2017 1:50 pm
Not necessarily. Just some very rough numbers below, but the costs add up quick:

Mobilization 5k
Demolition 15k
Structural/Framing 50k
HVAC 20k
Plumbing 20k
Electrical 20k
Roof 5k
Reclad Exterior 30k
Windows 25k
Insulation 10k
Drywall 15k
Paint 5k
Trim/Baseboard/Doors 10k
Tile/Hardwood 10k
Kitchen 25k
Bathrooms x 2 15k

Right there is 280k; add 20% for the GC, and another 13% for HST and you are at 380k. Note: this does not include things like permits, fireplaces, fixtures, landscaping, etc. etc. etc.
I think I misread the part where OP wants to gut the main floor and do a complete reno. This is a good ballpark breakdown.
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[OP]
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I'm ok with $3-400,000 my concern is that it is hard to choose a builder when the estimates swing so wildly. I appreciate that it is not worth a builder's time to do a detailed estimate for everyone who walks in off the street, but they should be able to start with a base price and then indicate that issues with the home can cause fluctuations.

My new strategy is to just ask for an estimate for the addition, without the main floor reno.

Meeting with more builders this week.
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OP: The challenge with getting estimates where you don't have written specifications, an engineering assessment, and/or drawings is that the builder must make a lot of assumptions. Some will take the approach of padding the estimate to provide a cushion for those assumptions to fall on the costly side and others will estimate at the lower range, land the job, and then watch the scope and budget grow from there. Trust me, once they start looking at the structure, the foundation, etc and begin pulling the plaster/drywall off the walls, costs will firm up - and usually climb. Those that estimate higher are often smarter (not necessarily better) as they are testing to see if your budget is really sufficient to handle a project whereas sometimes the lowball builder just really needs the job.

If you're gutting the first floor and adding a second, have you considered knocking it down and doing a rebuild? How old is the house?
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Oct 14, 2004
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It is very difficult, if not impossible to throw on a second story without doing work to the first story. Think about it...you will lose every bit of ceiling which contacts the roof, then new services need to be run and tied into. You may also need to replace some of the existing. Then, you have all the new structure to place in walls, etc.

At that point, the whole first floor is pretty well torn apart anyways.

My suggestion is to get plans drawn up by an architect and then take that for pricing and also get a zoning certificate which doesn't cost all that much, but confirms that you can build what you drew up without having to go to Community of Adjustments. This will be a lengthy process before you even get started.
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Aug 28, 2017
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so you are basically building a new house.....$500,000 sounds about right....but will end up probably being more once all is said and done.
[OP]
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We originally wanted a new build, but while interviewing builders we routinely heard that the narrowness of the lot and the permit situation in Toronto makes it easier to go through the process of an addition.

That's why we are concerned about the pricing. If I am paying the same as a new build, I would rather a new build. When I meet with the modular builder on Wednesday I am going to ask for pricing to take us to the point of insulation. I hope that helps limit some of the pricing variables.
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What neighbourhood and what builders are you meeting with?
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Jul 23, 2004
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If you want to get accurate pricing, you need complete specifications with plans.

You don't seem to know exactly what you want/need. The contractors are just gonna give you ballpark figures but that's worth nothing. Their price is going to change when you get back to them with a set of plans and specs.

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