- Why do renovations always take longer and cost more?
This is a complicated question, but the short answer is that almost always the scope changes. The scope may change because you think of something else to add, or something unexpected reveals itself in the process (an existing but unknown problem), or a better idea presents itself (maybe you decide to add a steam shower).
If the scope changes then the price changes. And if the scope changes then the amount of work usually changes. So although the price changes you are also getting more.
Having said that…it is important that you understand how the change of scope will affect your budget. There can be a slippery slope with your scope. Make sure that you understand how those extras will be priced and whether or not any modifications need to be made to accomplish the new scope. It is really important here that you trust the advice of your contractor and that you understand the added expense that you are considering.
- What is a qualified trade?
Trades are part of a provincial training program that includes theory and skills taught in classes and on the job work experience usually four years long. There are many apprenticeships that end up with a Journey Certification; painting, tiling, HVAC, electricians, plumbers and carpenters to name a few that you would encounter with your renovation or home build.
- What does Custom mean?
When talking about Custom Homes or Custom Renovations a contractor means that the materials used in your project will be modified to fit into your space or to your wishes. A simple example is that if you have a nook that is 8 ft and 7 inches – then some cabinets would fit that rather than getting cabinets that mostly fit in with wasted space covered by filler strips. There are countless ways to customize materials or ideas to fit with a little ingenuity.
Custom can mean built specifically for you. It does not necessarily need to cost more, that depends on the materials used and the site conditions. The general impression is that custom costs more but it really does depend on the unique circumstances of the location. If you need a triangle cabinet under the stairs for your wine collection is different and more expensive than an odd-length nook that fits rectangular cabinets of a custom size.
- What’s the difference between a Project manager and a General Contractor?
Both of these jobs are different, but in residential construction, these jobs are often performed by the same person, which is part of the confusion.
The short answer is that: the project manager liaises with the designer, you the client, and engineers (and any others needed) in the planning and executing of your project. They are responsible for making sure your needs and expectations as a client, are understood and met with respect to planning and budgeting as well as oversight and responsibility.
the general contractor coordinates the physical construction, the scheduling, trades and subtrades as well as ordering and managing of materials. They are typically the on-site problem solvers and on some jobs, they do some aspects of the work.
You should trust them and be in regular contact with them, they are working for you.
- What is the difference between a “Cost Plus” contract and a “Contract Price”?
A fixed-price contract means that the price quoted is the base price of the project plus any change orders. The contractor uses change orders to recoup any shortfalls that may have occurred in the project. The only way to really ensure the fixed price is to not change anything at all. Materials are priced at retail pricing.
A “cost-plus” contract is usually a transparent contract where both client and contractor have access to the actual cost of materials and subtrades. The contractor charges a percentage (15-25%) to pay for their services. In most cases, the contractor pricing is passed along to the client rather than retail pricing.
- Does the Alberta Home Warranty Program protect my home investment?
A home warranty program in Alberta is a form of insurance that every builder must carry by law and each home that they build must be enrolled or registered.
There is limited liability for both the builder and the Warranty provider which also means that there is limited protection for you the homeowner. It is best to carefully read and understand what is and what is not covered. Most Warranties offer about the same amount of limited protection.
- It is better to choose a reputable builder rather than to depend on a home warranty program to compensate you or to protect you from any future deficiencies.
Most reputable builders provide their own rigourous warranty as well as the required home warranty program, ask them about their own warranty.
- Aren’t all new homes inspected? Doesn’t that mean they are all built to the same standard?
The short answer is no. Yes, they are all inspected but no, they are not all built equally.
Inspections look for minimum standards, not best practices. Alberta has its own building code and it does require a builder to have a Builder License, but it does not require any trade certifications to qualify.
The Alberta Home Warranty Program has been implemented to protect consumers rather than to require trades qualifications in residential construction.