Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
- Areas We serve:
- Los Gatos
- Los Gatos Mountains
- Monte Sereno
- San Jose
- Mountain View
- Los Altos
- Los Altos Hills
Q & A
Q I want to remodel, how do I get started?
A The first step is to define the problem or condition you want to fix. Maybe it's not enough space, maybe it's an awkward layout, or maybe things are just worn out and time for an update.
The second step is to start putting together a collection of magazine pictures or actual materials that appeal to you. It's also useful to collect pictures of things you DON'T like, as that is instructive as well. Use small bookmarks to mark the pictures you like and make comments on your reactions. It doesn't have to be the whole scene, sometimes a small detail like the color or the lighting or the layout will be attractive to you.
The third step is to consider your budget and how you plan to finance the project. It's common to encounter "scope creep", where modest initial plans grow into something bigger once you start looking and thinking about "how nice it would be". A realistic budget will help keep your plans in within reach.
And the fourth step is to start looking for a building professional to work with. Ask friends and neighbors, check out Yelp, watch for trucks working in your neighborhood, etc. Remember though, everyone has an opinion that works for them; your goal is to find someone YOU are comfortable working with.
Q I'm not really sure what I want, should I just call several contractors to come give a free bid?
A Sure, you can do that. Let's say you get 3 bids that way. What do they mean? How can you compare them? A bid should be a fixed price for a fixed work scope. If you don't have a firm design, what did the contractor base the bid on? What if one guy plans to use very basic materials and every change you want results in a change order for extra cost? Are you even sure you'll like what he builds? It's far better to spend time planning your project first, then go out for bid. This is the best way to compare apples with apples.
Q Does HooseWorks give free bids?
A Of course we do. But let's distinguish between a bid for a fixed work scope and a request for free design advice. We don't mind coming to your site and spending an hour at no-charge to meet with you and discuss your needs. But if you really don't have plans ready, then we're in the design and project definition phase.
Most contractors say they will give a free bid, it's an unfortunate legacy practice in the industry. No one can afford to work for free for long, so the overhead rate has to go up to cover "free" bids. The main problem though, is that different "free" bids will almost certainly be for different work scopes - and it becomes very hard to compare them. You'll end up wasting your time and the contractor's. That said, this initial meeting is a good way to "test drive" each other and determine how well you'll work together.
Q Why do contractors ask what my budget is, right at the beginning?
A Some people are uncomfortable talking about money, especially before they develop trust in the contractor. This is an important part of the interview (and the contractor is evaluating you as a client as much as you are evaluating him as a builder). The contractor wants to know how realistic your plans are and to get a general idea of the job scope.
Q But I'm worried the bid will just match my budget, how do I know if it's fair and I'm not being overcharged?
A The common advice is to get 3 bids. If you take the time to nail down what you want and give the same set of plans to all 3 contractors, then the bids should be easy to compare.
Q Why don't I get 6 or 10 bids then?
A I've heard of people doing that, especially looking for the one bidder who makes a mistake in his bid and comes in much lower than the others. I've also heard of contractors who refuse to participate in competitive bidding. It's a lot of work for both you and the contractors. If you're prepared to pay a reasonable price for the work you want done, know what you want, and have done some background checking on your contractors, then 3 should be enough bids to make a good choice. Ask yourself - do I really want the lowest bidder on my project? What do I give up to get that low price?
Q What do you mean I have to give something up to get a low price?
A Any project can be characterized by three things: Cost, Quality, and Schedule. Unfortunately, they are mutually exclusive. You can only have two at one time. So a fast and low-cost project will necessarily have lower quality. A fast, high-quality project will be more costly. It's good to think about which two are most important to you when you evaluate builders.
Q How do I evaluate a contractor?
A There is a lot of information available on the internet on this subject, you should try reading at least a few articles but above all take the time to listen to your "gut". In this modern world we've gotten away from trusting our instincts, preferring to rationalize away things that make us uncomfortable. That said, here are a few pointers from my own reading and experience. You may wish to add to the list from your own experiences.
1. Check with the California Contractor State License Board (CSLB) for status of the contractor's license.
2. Ask for references. Pay attention to the reaction. Too quick a reaction and fast talk is probably a lie and a bluff. Too cautious a reaction is a sign of uncertainty. In any event write the names and numbers down and do call them. Go see them. Most people will actually welcome you simply to show off their achievement.
3. Visit his/her place of business. Not all contractors have an office, but you need to make sure you are not dealing with fly-by-night operation.
4. Be wary of the contractor who prefers to give a “complete package” price. The "owners selections" section does not have to be completed on every single line if you are providing your own fixtures, but the more the merrier. Read it carefully, it will dictate the quality of the home you end up with.
5. Check that he has Workman's Compensation insurance. He may very well not have it if he doesn't directly employ anyone.
6. Check that the payment schedule is tied to construction progress, not to the calendar. HOOSEWORKS prefers to structure payments to the beginning of a phase, not to the completion of one. This is still tied to progress in building and yet permits payment even if we're waiting for some fixture to arrive.
Q Is an addition always the answer to "not enough space"?
A Absolutely not! First we would look at how you are using your existing space to find ways to be more efficient or to borrow space from an adjacent area.
Q When should we start?
A We should start when we're ready to finish. In the beginning of a project it's common to get excited to get going, but if all the problems aren't solved, if all the decisions aren't made, then we'll have to stop at some point to address them. This is usually complicated by the work already completed. It's far better to work out the details and specifications so that the entire course of construction is clear. Materials should be specified, ordered, and preferably even delivered before we begin.
Q What is Design/Build?
A Design/Build is different from Design/Bid. With Design/Build, you find strong collaboration between the Designer and the Builder from the very start. If the same entity is responsible for overall success, you find less of the territorial bickering that can arise with separation. Since the project goals and constraints are common knowledge to both and are constantly being evaluated, you tend to have fewer problems.
Q Why choose Design/Build?
A There are several advantages to this approach. Instead of the Designer completing a project and then going out and getting several bids and hoping they match the homeowners budget; the Builder and the Designer work together to assure that the project is within budget. There is also less room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the plans. If problems arise, they can be quickly recognized and addressed without finger pointing and the costs that come with it. There is a single point of contact for the homeowner. Time and money are saved by avoiding the bid process. Plans can be slightly less detailed since the intent is known. The time from design to build is shorter.
All in all, value to the homeowner is higher.
Q How does the Design Phase work?
A The design phase begins with the preliminary project evaluation meeting. This entails general evaluation of the existing structure, and determining the homeowners wants and needs. After your goals are discussed and any challenges addressed, you decide if HOOSEWORKS is a good fit for you. The next step involves measuring the space, drawing existing floor plans (as built) and developing architectural schematics and preliminary cost ranges. Upon your approval of the preliminary presentation the entire design development and full evaluation phases are set into motion to finalize your design. You can anticipate a total of three to four meetings in order to finalize design development and your selections, which will result in a fixed cost construction contract.
Q Do you come to the house?
A Yes, it's important to see the actual space and meet the decision makers.
Q Why do all decision makers need to come to all meetings?
A Quite simply, for clarity and efficiency. There are lot of decisions to make, even on the smallest project. We want to spend time on a design that every one will be happy with. The remodeling of your house is a major decision, it is worth taking the time up front to be sure it is done the way you want. In the long run it will save everyone time and money.
Q What will my project cost?
A This is an often-asked question and the hardest to answer. How much does a car cost? Tastes vary from Mercedes to Kia, both will get you around from place to place but with a much different experience. Do you need the cargo space of an SUV or the zippy fun of a sports car? Design is about balancing constraints, our approach is to maximize value. We focus on materials and design that provide value and quality regardless of the price point. This is where the Design/Build process thrives. The design is tailored to your budget from the very beginning. Every project is different, and we will do our best to work with your budget.
Q How do I determine my budget?
A Give yourself a financial check up and determine what kind of payment you are comfortable with. If considering a large addition or major remodel you may want to spend some time looking at how much a house with the features you want would cost. This will also help give you an idea of the return you can expect on your remodeling investment. For some, it may be better to move into a new house rather than go through the remodeling process. Don't forget to consider property taxes increases if you've been in your current house long enough to benefit from Prop 13.
Q How long does construction take?
A There are many variables that determine how long a project will take. The start time is dependant on the specifics of the particular project and the availability of the selected materials. Generally construction begins shortly after the contract has been signed. This allows us to obtain the permits and order items such as cabinets, More Info windows and doors. Typically construction time for additions ranges between 12-16 weeks. Obviously the larger and more complex a job the longer it will take. In our experience the biggest factor in determining the completion date for a project is the homeowners ability to make timely decisions and meet our deadlines. We pride ourselves on meeting the construction schedule that we set for you during the design and development phase of the project.
Q Is the owner responsible for securing permits?
A You can if you want, otherwise HOOSEWORKS is responsible for securing all building permits. The homeowner needs only to supply a property survey / plot map of the home. In neighborhoods where parking permits are required it is the responsibility of the homeowner to obtain temporary parking passes.
Q How are payments made for my construction work?
A In your construction contract terms and conditions this will be clearly outlined. Payments are tailored to size, materials, and man hours needed to produce your project. A deposit will be the first payment upon acceptance of a construction contract. Thereafter progress payments are outlined for when contract milestones are met. Example: If inclement weather delays your production, payments will also be delayed until outlined milestones are met.