Mid-July Project Recap

It’s the end of the second full week of July, and we just passed general framing and plumbing inspection a few days ago. The insulation crew will be doing installation all weekend long, and Jose hopes to pass insulation inspection on Tuesday and start sheetrock.

In terms of schedule, we’re maybe half a week to a week behind, which is really not bad given some of the surprises we encountered in framing, plumbing, and electrical. We are quite a bit over budget, which is what everyone tells you to expect, but the reality of which is nonetheless still very unpleasant. By the end of this project, we will have burned through almost all of our savings and then some. On the other hand, almost all of the downstairs will be in great shape, we’ll have a kick-ass deck, and all of the important guts (electric, gas, water, drain, HVAC, foundation) will be basically brand new.

We currently have three more scheduled draws remaining, and are looking at two major overages: approximately $6000 for new hardwood floors and refinishing some of the existing, and approximately $3000 over our allowance for countertops. Of course, we are also supplying our own kitchen appliances instead of drawing them out of the appliance allowance in the contract, so that will be another overage.

I am somewhat annoyed by both the hardwood floor and the countertop overages, partly because they are things I could have flagged if I hadn’t been in a rush to get a contract signed, and partly because I feel they indicate that (once again) Cliff was extremely optimistic during the bidding process. In the future, if I use a general contractor again, I will definitely stipulate a fall-off function for markup on overages.

The countertop allowance, for instance, could have been demonstrated to be too low, just with a back-of-the-envelope calculation. We also knew the general colors of quartz we were considering, and those were all in the middle/upper middle price grades. However, Cliff’s bid assumed the cheapest color grade.

The hardwood floor was indeed a toss-up, because the kitchen floor could very well have been reusable. However, the amount of allowance that Cliff included wouldn’t even have been sufficient for new material just for the master bedroom and hallway. I think there was some miscommunication there, because on a few occasions he seemed to think that there was salvageable hardwood under the ratty carpet in the back bedrooms, when it was clear that there was nothing but plywood under the carpet. I still haven’t heard back from Cliff about what they’re going to charge me for the hardwood flooring work, but I’ve seen the subcontractor bid and thus the level of markup will be obvious.

At this point in the project, I’ve reached a certain Zen spot of calmness with regards to their markups and the overruns. I know that at the end of the project, there will be a final number, which is the total cost. I will divide the original contract bid into this, and arrive at the overrun percentage. I will then show them this percentage and ask them if they believe this to be fair, and ask if there are any adjustments they’d like to make. Of course, I will also happily share this overrun with my dear readers and the Internet at large, as a concrete example of what one might expect when going through a remodel. At that point, the value of that number is *entirely* in the hands of Cliff and Ed. It’s their business, it’s their markup, and at that point, it’s between them and the internet.


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