A Brief Guide to Starting Your Building Project

When starting a building project, choices are always site-specific. Some projects are simple, while others are complex. There are custom homes, remodels, and historic renovations. Some jobs are created out of necessity, while others are long-anticipated dreams. There are many styles to consider and a multitude of materials and finishes to choose from.

Your home is undoubtedly your largest asset, so when starting, it’s important to identify and articulate your vision to help define the choices that will lead to the results you want. Visions are as diverse as people, yet a systematic process will unify a project of any scope, scale or style.

Here’s a helpful guide to follow when embarking on a building project:

The Contract. When working with any professional in the trade, a well-considered contract will identify problems early and prevent unforeseen issues. A contract should include:

  • Terms – Language that clarifies the terms, conditions, cost and payment schedules.
  • Specifications – Language that specifies the materials, costs and delivery dates.
  • Compliance – Language that includes disclosures, legal and insurance criteria.

The Plans. The design and building plans are visual instructions to inform and direct the builder. Plans are drawn by architects, designers, engineers and “design-build” firms. A plan set includes:

  • Site Plan – Shows the property setbacks and topography contours.
  • Foundation Plan – Shows the underpinning structure of the home or building.
  • Floor Plan – Shows the layout of the rooms, doors, windows, fixtures, cabinets and built-ins.
  • Framing Plan – Shows the structural features to include, such as walls, joists, trusses and beams.
  • Roof Plan – Is a top view of the entire roof system, including ridges, hips, valleys, rakes and eaves.
  • Mechanical Plan – Locates the electrical, plumbing and HVAC details.
  • Plan Elevations – Is a flat, straight-on view of the front, side and rear exteriors of the house.
  • Cross-sections – Show the hidden details of the house bisecting through walls, floors, ceilings and roof.
  • Details – Highlights specific details of construction to show how to construct the structure.
  • Schedule – The key on all drawings to specify and locate all doors, windows, fixtures and hardware.

Once your plans are submitted, approved, and on file with the building department, coastal commission and/or your Home Owners Association, a set of plans is made for both you and your builder of choice.
Bids and Proposals. With your direction established, the bid process is up next. If you choose to work with a general contractor (and it is typical to employ a GC when building a home), the common rule of thumb is to secure three bids. A general contractor does charge a fee to manage the building process for you.

As a general contractor, our bids include:

  • Interview – Telephonic and on-site interviews with tours of previous work completed.
  • Estimate – Outline of all costs and allowances, based on the plans provided.
  • Schedule of Values – A financial and project management tool used to update all parties on the status of the project.
  • Agenda – A form and procedure that tracks the minutes and agenda of all meetings.
  • References – Our client references accompanied by pictures of completed projects.

The Work. Once you are confident in the choices you’ve made throughout the planning phase, the work phase begins. Typically the work phase includes demolition, structural improvements, framing, electrical, plumbing, and the finishing phase.

All projects, no matter what the parameters are, depend on organization and direction to run on time, on budget, and with minimal surprises. At GDC Construction, we pride ourselves on our organizational tools, solid relations with vendors and subcontractors, and on our experienced staff. For additional information, please visit our website www.gdcconstruction, or come see us at GDC Construction, 1031 Silverado Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 858-551-5222.