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Frequently Asked Remodeling Questions

by Dave Konstantin, Owner ~ K-CO Construction, Inc.


Sometimes it happens in a store, sometimes at the gas station. It happens once in a while when I’m picking my daughter up at school. It always happens at parties. As soon as someone finds out that I am a contractor, I get asked. It usually goes like this: "So you do home remodeling, what would it cost to remodel my home?"

My favorite answer is actually a question of my own: "What does it cost to eat dinner in a restaurant?"

The answer, to both questions, is "It depends." If we are talking about dinner, it could be $3.99 at Roberto’s or $399 at the Hotel Del. It depends on the food, the environment, and a million other details. If we are talking about remodeling, it depends on whether you want a simple extension of your family room, or an entire second story master suite complete with fireplace and luxurious bathroom. The bottom line is that what it costs depends on what you want.

The next question is usually some variation on "How long would it take to remodel my home?" Again, this is like asking how long it takes to cook dinner—and the answer is the same: "It depends."

The actual construction time varies according to the size of the project—of course remodeling a bathroom is going to take less time than building a whole new second story. Sometimes simply getting to the start point seems to take forever.

Most remodeling projects require City approval in the form of a permit, and this process can be very lengthy. In the beach areas, you may also have to get approval from the Coastal Commission, or if your home is on a canyon, you may have restrictions because of endangered species living there. Researching and resolving these issues must be done before anything is built. This adds time to the job, and we have little control over how much.

Usually when I start explaining the permit process and zoning regulations the question becomes "Why can’t I do what I want with my own home?" In terms of permits, I use the restaurant analogy: the Building Department issues permits for building like the Health Department issues permits for food service. The City wants to insure that structures are safe to occupy and resistant to hazards common in the area (e.g., earthquakes, floods, etc.). I’m sure you want that too- after all you wouldn’t want your neighbor’s house to burn up (and possibly cause yours to burn too) because the electrical system was installed improperly.

In regard to zoning, I can only say that the planning groups that determine zoning regulations and review any exemption requests are made up of civic-minded folks that want the best for our City. You may not agree with all their decisions—I don’t always agree with them either—but you must agree that it’s a difficult job to accommodate everyone’s needs and desires for their community.

When I meet someone who has already done a remodeling project, their question is more likely to be "Why did my project cost more than I thought or was told?" Of course, I can’t say specifically why their project cost more, unless I did the job.

In most cases though, what the homeowner has forgotten was all the little upgrades they made along the way. For example, when we are first discussing the project, the homeowner is looking for ways to save money, so when I ask if they want a Jacuzzi tub instead of a plain one, many people will say no. Then once we get into the job and they can see how nice their new bathroom will be, they change their minds and decide to spend the money for the tub with whirlpool jets. It’s not unusual for a job to have several change orders, each one representing a "little" thing that increases the price of the overall project.

My favorite question is this; "Could you come out and give me a proposal for remodeling my house?" Although you might think the answer to this one is always "yes!", I sometimes have to decline the opportunity. Why? I have found the best way for a contractor to go broke and leave homeowners with half-finished projects is to say "yes" to any and every job that comes along.

I know that in order to build a quality product and have a happy homeowner, our projects need to be supervised effectively. My superintendents can’t do a very good job of that if they spend half their time traveling from one job to the next. That’s why we sometimes have to say no to a job that is in an area far from other projects currently underway.


Do you have remodeling questions I didn’t answer here? Call me at (858) 274-0005 or email me at dave@kcoconstruction.com
and I will do my best to answer them.

Article submitted by:
Dave Konstantin, Owner
K-CO Construction, Inc.

4686 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.  San Diego, CA 92117

Copyright 2006 K-CO Construction, Inc.


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