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The following is a case study provided by guest blogger Jack Cookson of BuildZoom.
You might think that experienced architects Michael and Pinar Harris might not need help coordinating a remodel of their home in Coral Gables, Miami. While the couple designed their home renovation and planned their addition of a new primary suite, they were frustrated with their inability to find a general contractor.
Location: Miami, FL
Scope: Whole home remodel
Client: Michael H
Initial Bid Analysis
Terms & Conditions Negotiation
“We tried to find a general contractor on our own, but we were completely frustrated,” said Michael. “The good ones were just too busy and didn’t seem interested enough to do much more than toss out a number to see if that would work.”
The couple reached out to the general contractor they worked with when they first purchased and renovated their home but even he was too busy and suggested a “ridiculous” bid for this new project, Michael said.
“We bought the cheapest house in a really nice neighborhood and a number of homes are being torn down to build McMansions,” said Michael. “That makes it harder for us to find someone because the contractors who work in this neighborhood are used to seven-figure renovations.”
The Harris project’s budget is in the low six figures.
Once the pandemic started and a renovation boom began among homeowners wanting to improve their surroundings, finding a contractor became even more difficult.
Michael found BuildZoom online and decided to seek their help to move their project forward.
While price is important to everyone, for the Harris family the priority was to find a reliable general contractor in a time when competition for contractors was heated.
“BuildZoom found us four really good candidates for the general contractor work,” said Michael. “We were basically throwing a dart to try to pick someone to help us, but BuildZoom’s existing relationships with contractors enabled them to find us such great options that it was hard to choose one.”
When Michael and Pinar were ready to start their project, they were frustrated that even with their experience in the industry as architects they couldn’t find the right contractor at the right price.
“The most important part of what BuildZoom did was to bring contractors to meet us who had already seen the drawings for our project and had good suggestions and solid numbers for us,” said Michael. “Then we could get a good comfort level with each contractor and a sense of their integrity. It was a huge comfort to know they had already been vetted by BuildZoom.”
The Harris project is a relatively simple remodel that will add approximately 585 square feet, including a primary bedroom and bathroom. A separate in-law suite will be connected to the rest of the floor plan. In addition, the carport will be enclosed to become a garage and new paving stones will be added to the front of the house and patios for curb appeal.
“This is a pragmatic remodel, not architecturally mind-blowing. We need the space, and we know it will add value in this neighborhood,” Client Michael.
Multiple bid comparisons:
While the availability of several reputable general contractors was valuable to the Harris family, an equally important service provided by BuildZoom was to develop bid comparisons for the project. First, BuildZoom gathered rough bid information from four of their recommended general contractors after Michael met them and agreed to have them submit bids.
“BuildZoom did something called ‘leveling’ that meant the contractors came up with better bids,” said Michael. “They didn’t share anyone’s actual numbers, but they said things like ‘you’re a little high on this aspect of the job, can you revisit that?’ BuildZoom knows these people and they have historic data to compare what jobs should cost.”
After negotiating with all the contractors, the final bids from all of them came in about $5,000 apart, which was amazing, said Michael. The bids were all lower than the initial bids Michael received when they were searching for a contractor on their own.
The final bid comparison included notes from BuildZoom on what had changed in the bids and specific items to check before making a decision.
Choosing a contractor:
Michael would have been content with any of the four finalists for the job.
“I picked OV One Construction because I had a good comfort level with Oscar Vazquez, the owner of the business,” said Michael. “I got good feedback from local references and he has a good track record. He knows his subcontractors really well, which is important to me, and he does some of his own work on projects, too.”
Vazquez was honest from the start and pointed out possible challenges of the remodel, Michael said.
BuildZoom completed a full contract review before both parties agreed to the final version.
The entire project is expected to take about six months, during which the couple and their children, ages 9 and 11, plan to live in the house. Michael said much of the work will be outside and the addition can be kept separate from the main house until the project is nearly complete.
While starting the work depends on the local permitting process, Michael said the professionalism of BuildZoom and OV One is already evident.
“It sounds like something you shouldn’t even have to mention, but it’s great to work with people who stick to their word, are organized, show up on time and call when they say they will,” said Michael. “That’s a big deal when too many people today don’t do those things and it gives us tremendous confidence about our project.”