After several years overseeing the construction of housing remodels, the current project underway at 38th Star House in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Denver, Colorado, will represent my first newly constructed home addition. Special details matter to me, and the goal is to create a well-done, well-finished home for the next homeowners.
During new construction, I’ve found there are a few areas to watch carefully. These include managing the permitting process, mitigating possible delays, working with the structural engineer, and managing the budget as the construction project goes forward.
Managing the permitting processes
There is definitely a process to permitting. To obtain all the permits you need for new construction, it’s not a matter of simply filling out paperwork. You have to do all kinds of things to get ready for construction, depending on the property.
As one example, at this location we were required to get a soil test. This involved a specialist drilling on the property for hours, going about 30 feet into the soil.
We had to wait two weeks to get the results in a Geological Report. The report was about 15 pages long. This was not a simple thing.
Beyond the permitting process, which is notorious for bringing delays to a job site, there are many other aspects that can cause the project to stall out. These include finding the right materials, shipping, and delivery.
Vendors may or may not be available or responsive to project exactly as needed, either. Unfortunately, they’re frequently also juggling these same scheduling matters on other jobs, so the stars have to align sometimes for the work to get done on time.
Working with structural engineering
The structural engineer needs to figure out what goes where. That was a super-complicated job for this home! As just one example, the primary back door is about eight feet off the ground, while another door was only raised up about one foot. The structural engineer looks at the levels throughout the home, evaluates the roof lines, and more. This home has a complicated roof line, so it was a lot to put together. And, of course, because the structural evaluation was so complex on this job, it turned out to be really expensive.
Fortunately, while the foundation on this home is very solid, we’re not popping the top of the home and building up — we’re building an addition on the back. It would be a lot to ask a home that is over 100 years old to structurally support a new vertical addition. So we’re going horizontal. That was a big piece of the puzzle.
Avoiding excessive added costs
There are many “finishing touches” that homeowners want to be included in a home. These items — such as high-quality cabinetry hardware, closet shelving systems, towel hooks, and window treatments — can add considerable costs to your budget.
Designers know that choosing materials can become a time-consuming decision-making process on any job. Sourcing, ordering, and facilitating delivery of these finishing touches can be a real headache, if you aren’t experienced with the process. Sometimes, even if you are familiar with the process, it’s still a bit much! So you’ve got to have a plan of your own to mitigate the costs and still come up with something beautiful.
It’s exciting to manage a new construction process, because you’ve got a clean slate and can do virtually anything. However, there are a lot of “ups and downs” to be expected with any new construction.
It takes perseverance and commitment to one’s vision to get things right. I’m eager to finish the job and show you my vision for this job, realized.
What’s your latest project? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a note!