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

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 17th, 2019 9:11 am
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2009
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Drew_W wrote:
Dec 18th, 2017 9:38 pm
What neighbourhood and what builders are you meeting with?
Leslieville, RS Homes, Novacon, Royal Homes and Modular Home Additions
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[OP]
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AMD wrote:
Dec 19th, 2017 8:21 am
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.
I thought going with a builder who would create the plans with me as part of the process would be the best path, I am learning it is not.
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Jul 23, 2004
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dgnr8 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2017 10:11 am
I thought going with a builder who would create the plans with me as part of the process would be the best path, I am learning it is not.
Yeah a contractor doesn't really care what plans you build and what your needs are.
You need an architect/building technician first to write down the specs and plans. Then the builder will know what you want and price accordingly.
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May 12, 2004
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dgnr8 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2017 10:11 am
I thought going with a builder who would create the plans with me as part of the process would be the best path, I am learning it is not.
You're looking for a design+build firm. From experience having dealt with a few (i'm sure there are exceptions) they don't do either very well. Furthermore they have a conflict of interest where more expensive products are used with no substitutions offered in the design.

EDIT: Just like AMD said, get your plans drawn up and shop them around. That way they'll take you more seriously. Right now you're nothing more than a tire-kicker with a dream.
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Dec 19, 2015
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Calgary, AB
We just got an estimate done for a partial teardown in Calgary. 1100 sqft bungalow, keeping the existing foundation and main floor joists (finished basement) but tearing down and rebuilding the main and second level (so around 2200-2400ft2 total).

For design, permits, demolition and everything up to and including exterior finish and drywall (so no interior finishings like paint, flooring, bathroom fittings, tiling etc) we ended up at around $230k. Look at around $100-150k for higher end interior finishings if getting it done by someone else (and add an additional 10% tax) and you're at around 400k.

We also has someone ballpark estimate at $800k, but they obviously didn't want the job, a small outfit that probably realised between visiting and follow up that it was too big a job for them - they usually did small additions and renovations.

Obviously a different province but the $400k estimate seems in line with what we were estimated.
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Oct 12, 2007
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We did a higher end renovation on a 2 story (roughly 2800 sq feet) and the total price all-in was about $500k. It was a complete gut and many walls were moved/eliminated, all drywall and windows replaced and significant structural engineering was done as well. These are Ottawa prices but we also went with a design-build contractor known to be expensive (Amsted, for those of you who know the local Ottawa market).

The arrangement I negotiated with them was that we bought (and paid for) the design & drawings up front and had the option of getting alternative quotes. We stuck with them when we found that reliable/reputable contractors were no cheaper and the cheaper ones just did not give a sense of confidence. A key for us was that we had to rent a place and I wanted a firm commitment that work would be done by a given date. What I know from being in a very-related business is that the sub-trades are not easily scheduled if your builder has no clout in the local build industry. Food for thought.
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Oct 6, 2010
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Cas77 wrote:
Dec 19th, 2017 12:12 pm
EDIT: Just like AMD said, get your plans drawn up and shop them around. That way they'll take you more seriously. Right now you're nothing more than a tire-kicker with a dream.
This is your problem and why your pricing is so left and right field. You to them are wasting their time and an idiot. They are just going to toss numbers at you and see what your reaction is. Maybe you'll be their retirement fund. Get some drawings before even making a phone call. Prove to someone that you are serious about this project. I went through the call everyone before and like yourself, numbers were all over the map.
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Nov 28, 2010
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Cambridge
Pay someone you feel comfortable with to draw up the detailed plans for you, based on what you want to build. Then choose 3 builders that you have done extensive research on (including reviews) and pay them each for a detailed written quote. This will communicate to the builders that you are serious about doing this project and you won't get ballpark numbers. No builder wants to waste hours of their time with someone that doesn't know what they want or is shopping around for free estimates, so they give you ball park numbers to see if your budget is within their building rates/pricing before they commit to spending hours with you on your project planning. On another note it is true that a lot of builders do pull numbers out of their a__. This is a very large investment, so preparation and research is key.
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Nov 28, 2010
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Cambridge
CaptSmethwick wrote:
Dec 20th, 2017 4:26 am
We did a higher end renovation on a 2 story (roughly 2800 sq feet) and the total price all-in was about $500k. It was a complete gut and many walls were moved/eliminated, all drywall and windows replaced and significant structural engineering was done as well. These are Ottawa prices but we also went with a design-build contractor known to be expensive (Amsted, for those of you who know the local Ottawa market).

The arrangement I negotiated with them was that we bought (and paid for) the design & drawings up front and had the option of getting alternative quotes. We stuck with them when we found that reliable/reputable contractors were no cheaper and the cheaper ones just did not give a sense of confidence. A key for us was that we had to rent a place and I wanted a firm commitment that work would be done by a given date. What I know from being in a very-related business is that the sub-trades are not easily scheduled if your builder has no clout in the local build industry. Food for thought.
I have seen projects drag on for 3x-4x longer then expected (and who knows how much over budget) because the builder did not have a proper network of sub trades and was always running around chasing his subcontractors or gathering estimates from contractors that are booked weeks out during those building phases.
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Aug 28, 2017
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Do you have drawings?

I'd assume so...which makes the price discrepancies weird...

If you do not have drawings, you are wasting their time...how can they quote you without proper drawings of such a major reno?
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2009
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Had a great meeting with a builder today where I actually received itemized pricing.

The addition fully completed on the outside (stucco), but only up until needing insulation inside will cost approximately $140,000. This is with tax, but without the permit fees. To finish the inside and reno the rest of the house will range from $2-250,000 but that has a ton of variables. That being said, the builder was upfront about that if I am really concerned about budget I should source my own trades to save the 20% general contractor fee.

They actually gave me an itemized list of the cost per unit (sqft, etc) of ever item so I can compare materials.

I am about to re-type this info into an excel so I can share if others are curious.
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Oct 23, 2017
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GTA West
dgnr8 wrote:
Dec 15th, 2017 9:33 pm
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?
The quality design/build renovators I have dealt with don't provide estimates until they have made detailed drawings of the existing and proposed structures. They don't do this for nothing, since it can take a week or two or more depending on the complexity of the job and how often you iterate the plans after you see them. I paid about $1,200 to get to this stage for a main floor reno excluding my kitchen. I am getting higher quotes for my exterior reno. Worst case, you don't proceed and are out the initial fee.

Once that is done, the contractor should be able to include a detailed price quotation including all finishes. They deal with different finishing options by providing "allowances" for their "standard" finishes. Then you can decide to accept the standard, spend less, or spend more for upgrades. For example, they gave us a fixed $allowance for the bathroom fixtures and we selected less expensive faucets etc. This was netted off the price. There are also allowances that are NOT fixed e.g. they could not put a fixed cost on the change from alum to copper wiring until the electrician opened up all the walls to look at the work. So I had to accept an estimated price subject to adjustment for actual costs and luckily it was not far off.

If you do that process correctly, you should not have any surprises in the final cost unless you change the scope of the reno. Don't expect an accurate price without doing this process. For my interior reno, the final costs were exactly as quoted except that I decided to up/down grade some of their proposed finishes and added some elements such as a new front door. These were quoted and approved individually as fixed price "extras" to the main contract. I always felt I had control over the cost.

You have to accept that design/builders can't do a detailed design and estimate for nothing if they want to make a living. I think it would be a mistake to tackle a $500k reno without the design/proposal stage I described.

If the contractor has a weak or no design capability, you can get them all on the same page by hiring your own architect or designer to draw up plans for them to quote on.

I currently have a concept plan from an independent designer for a new front elevation for our house. I will use this to get quotes from contractors. If I proceed I will get him to make final detailed drawings for the building permit and this will cost around $2,000.

The upfront cost to get a detailed design and costing will save you a lot of money and grief - that is my experience and I hope it is helpful
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Oct 23, 2017
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GTA West
truepolishpride wrote:
Dec 20th, 2017 8:41 am
I have seen projects drag on for 3x-4x longer then expected (and who knows how much over budget) because the builder did not have a proper network of sub trades and was always running around chasing his subcontractors or gathering estimates from contractors that are booked weeks out during those building phases.
I agree it is essential to have a busy general contractor who has a network of tried and true tradespeople at his disposal. When I did my kitchen and earlier my main floor I got talking to the trades and they all had a lengthy relationship with the GC and did a large proportion of their work for him. All the good GC's in my area are working 6 to 12 months out, so they can deliver a lot of work to their trades and line them up far in advance. If you think you can find and qualify your own quality tradespeople for when YOU want them, good luck! And they likely will quote you a higher price than they give the GC. I think the situation is especially bad right now because of the increase in house prices - more people are able to justify the cost of renos, for others it is cheaper to do a reno than to buy another house. So the reno industry seems to be booming.

BTW once you finalize specific plans and finishes, those big, crazy price differences between contractors will disappear. They all pay pretty much the same rates for labour and materials.
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Jul 4, 2004
7371 posts
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Toronto
dgnr8 wrote:
Dec 20th, 2017 7:38 pm
Had a great meeting with a builder today where I actually received itemized pricing.

The addition fully completed on the outside (stucco), but only up until needing insulation inside will cost approximately $140,000. This is with tax, but without the permit fees. To finish the inside and reno the rest of the house will range from $2-250,000 but that has a ton of variables. That being said, the builder was upfront about that if I am really concerned about budget I should source my own trades to save the 20% general contractor fee.

They actually gave me an itemized list of the cost per unit (sqft, etc) of ever item so I can compare materials.

I am about to re-type this info into an excel so I can share if others are curious.
LOL what self respecting builder wants you to go and source YOUR OWN trades so you DON'T have to "bother" them with finishing the project?

C'mon now.

Please stop and think very closely about why this is NOT a good idea, and probably why you should just stop with this builder and move on.
[OP]
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Sep 5, 2009
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Thought I would update the thread for those who are still interested. We signed with Modular Home Additions. The deciding factor was the number of homes they have done in our area. They gave us a list of 30 plus homes that they had done and we drove around to look at them.

They offer the addition in 3 phases:

1) Phase 1 addition fully completed on the outside
2) Phase 2 finishing the inside of the addition
3) Phase 3 renoing the main floor

If we went with them for all 3 phases the cost would be approximately $400,000

At this point we signed for phase 1 which has a tentative cost of about $150,000 without the cost of permits.

They did the site assessment and our 100 year old house passed so we are in the process of scheduling our first appointment with the architect. The neat part of this process is that the drawings include the whole house and any landscaping we want done whether we do all 3 phases with them or not. It will be nice to have a master plan for what we want for our house, even future projects.

I will keep updating as we work through this process over the next year.
Current cell plans:
Fido $15 3gb
Koodo $40 for 5GB Public Mobile migration plan.

Affordable wireless is possible, just takes some creativity.

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