Elements of an Estimate: the integral pieces of developing an accurate estimate for your remodel or new build

Elements of an Estimate: the integral pieces of developing an accurate estimate for your remodel or new build

Construction estimating is the process of anticipating the expense of building a physical structure. Construction budgeting is the process of collecting bids to compile the exact costs of the project. While the estimating process is helpful in guiding a homeowner through the decision process, the budgeting step is essential, and one of the most crucial in the construction process.

 

Not all construction estimates are created equal

A construction estimate is a broad range number given early in the stages of pre-construction, which allows the homeowner to decide if the project is financially feasible. Many contractors will quote a lump-sum construction estimate shortly after looking at the project without validating its accuracy.  If you get an “estimate” like this, run the other way.  A better approach is for the contractor to spend some time, after the initial meeting, itemizing each job cost to explain how that lump sum is derived. While this approach is more time-consuming, it makes the homeowner feel more confident and comfortable with the integrity of the contractor.  An itemized estimate can typically be put together in a week or two.

When information and plans may not be complete, the estimator must blend known data, such as a building’s size and scope, with other details based on unit costs, assumptions, historical data, and best judgment. As the design is refined, the final budget is based more on solid information.

A construction budget may take months to compile numbers and all design aspects are needed before a budget can be created (i.e., architectural plans, engineering, and specifications). A budget needs to be as accurate as possible because profit margins (the livelihood of the contractor) are impacted if any budgeted costs for the project are off by even the slightest amount. Every successful project starts with a precise and accurate cost budget.

It is our goal to share the information in this blog post to inform clients, potential clients, and those interested in the home building and remodeling industry of all the elements and work that goes into each estimate and budget your contractor provides.

 

Types of Construction Contracts

In an estimate-style proposal, every labor activity and material in the project is listed in painstaking detail but is not validated for accuracy.  Rather than being billed off the estimate, the homeowner is billed for the actual materials used, actual hours worked, and work performed by subcontractors. The contractor’s fee is expressed in the form of a percentage of the project cost. This type of contract is also called a time-material or cost-plus contract.

These contracts are the most transparent since you will see very clearly how much profit the contractor is making, but these contracts can be very large and complicated, since they may list hundreds of different line items. Nothing will be left out—not even peripherals such as permits, roll-off dumpsters, and debris pickup.

The downside of the cost-plus contract is that construction starts based on approvals of estimates, rather than firm bids.  This means the total price at the end of the project may be far different from what you initially expected to pay.

An alternative contract is fixed-price or stipulated-sum.  Much like cost-plus, early-stage itemized estimation of the project cost is the first step in deciding if the project is financially feasible.  Step two, under stipulated-sum contracts, is to design the entire project from plans and engineering to final finishing touches.  This is done before construction begins and allows the contractor to create an accurate construction budget using real bids.  Knowing the final price of the project before signing a contract allows the homeowner an opportunity to organize funding sources and plan actual expenditures in advance. Specifying all of the finishes upfront also allows for the project to run more smoothly.

 

Why is the Estimate Important?

Accurate estimates win new projects and business for companies. In the bid estimation phase, construction documents, take-offs, and other direct costs are used to allow the estimator to determine an approximation of job costs. Customers and builders are concerned about the price of a project because of the financial impact of expenditure overrun and the failure of project completion. It is in the interest of BOTH parties to spend time researching and estimating the expenses. No one wants to lose money, and construction estimating provides a useful tool in project management.

At Timber Ridge Properties our main priority is communication. From our initial construction estimate to finishing touches we want you to understand every element of your project and feel as though you are great hands. There are quite a few contractors out there that will try to reel you in with an incomplete estimate that makes the deal look pretty sweet but in the end, there are hidden costs and fees that make your project even more time-consuming and expensive than it originally should have been. We believe in full transparency.

If we sound like your type of builder – give us a call!

 

13 Most Popular Home Styles Across the U.S.

13 Most Popular Home Styles Across the U.S.

No matter where you live, you’ll likely encounter a wide variety of architectural home styles just by driving through your neighborhood. From extravagant to quaint, homes across the U.S. hold their own unique beauty and characteristics just like the people who inhabit them.

So, what are the most popular home styles in the U.S.? From New York, NY to Portland, OR, you don’t have to be an architect to appreciate the range of stunning house styles available on the housing market. So whether you’re in the market for a new home or just love browsing homes on your favorite real estate app, check out the 13 most popular home styles in the United States right now.

What Are the Most Popular Home Styles?

1. Ranch-style homes

Dating back to 1932, the ranch-style home grew in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s and is still popular today. The iconic ranch architecture is known for its simple, single-story floor plan, low-to-the-ground look, often with an open layout and occasional basement. This style of house typically has a smaller yard, attached garage, and a low-pitched roof. The ranch-style home often features large windows and sliding glass doors, encouraging an indoor-outdoor living style. A ranch can also be called a ‘rambler,’ depending on which region in the country you live in and local terminology. 

Looking locally, ranch-style homes currently have the highest sale-to-list ratio in a handful of cities,  meaning this style of house is more likely to sell above the list price. These cities include Portland, ORPhoenix, AZChicago, ILSan Francisco, CA, and San Diego, CA. Each of these cities favor the rambler, with a current sale-to-list ratio of over 100%.

2. Craftsman-style homes

The beloved craftsman-style home became increasingly popular in the 1900s by architect and furniture designer Gustav Stickley and has remained popular throughout the 21st century. This staple for American Architecture adds charm to any neighborhood with its exterior features, including shingles, low-pitched roofs, and covered front porches. Craftsman homes also feature recognizable interior details such as thick trim, prominent ceiling beams, and built-in shelving and seating.

Craftsman homes are a desirable home style all across the U.S., but they are often sold above list price in Oakland, CASeattle, WAAtlanta, GA, and Portland, OR.

3. Contemporary-style homes

Contemporary architecture is often used interchangeably when describing modern style architecture. A wide range of recently built homes are built with Contemporary-style architecture. These homes have inventive designs and simple forms without elaborate ornamentation or detail. They usually have geometric lines, large windows and doors to bring in light, and open floor plans. They often incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly building materials, textures, and components, exposed roof beams, and flat or low-pitched roofs. 

Contemporary-style homes see the highest sale-to-list ratio in Oakland, CADenver, COPhoenix, AZSan Francisco, CASan Diego, CAChicago, IL, and Atlanta, GA.

4. Modern-style homes

Emerging in the 1920s to embrace minimalism and reject the more ornate home styles, modern house styles typically include progressive elements such as asymmetrical exteriors, flat roofs, and integrated outdoor spaces. Many modern interiors also feature minimal molding and trim, neutral color palettes, and metal accents.

You’ll find the highest sale-to-list ratio in Denver, CO.

5. Cape Cod-style homes

With roots dating back to 1675, the quaint and charming Cape Cod-style homes are reminiscent of the classic American cottage style. This type of home design migrated from England to the United States, maintaining its symmetrical design and central chimney. Cape Cod-style homes feature a steep roof to keep snow from accumulating, dormer windows for added light, wood siding and shutters to keep the heat in, and hardwood floors for comfort and practicality.

This style of house is prevalent in the northeastern part of the United States, commonly found in the New England region.

6. Colonial-style homes

Dating back to 1876, East Coast architecture has maintained its allure in many parts of the United States. These classic homes are known for their old-world charm, decorative doorways, and symmetrical window placement. Many colonial-style homes will have two or three stories, fireplaces, and brick or wood exteriors.

Colonial-style homes are similar to the Cape Cod-style home because of their symmetry and side-gabled roofs, but Cape Cod-style homes are typically one story rather than two or three. Colonial-style homes can be found in the northeastern part of the United States.

7. Tudor-style homes

Originating in the 15th century during the reign of the House of Tudor, this style of house is fairly easy to identify with its unique features. Tudor-style homes typically have a combination of brick, stone, or stucco exterior and decorative half-timbering on the second story to create the well-known striped exterior. They also feature a steeply-pitched roof, cross gables, and tall, narrow windows. Today, Tudor-style homes are prominent in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.

8. Cottage-style homes

Inspired by the medieval styles of the English countryside, American architects designed cozy cottage-style houses during the 1920s and 30s. This style of house typically has a steep, thatched roof, arched doorways, shuttered windows, and a warm storybook character bringing to life old-world charm.

9. Mediterranean-style homes

Mediterranean-style homes are suitable for warmer climates, which is why this style of house became prevalent in Southern California during the 1920s and 1930s. Influenced by the architecture of countries in the Mediterranean region, they often have low-pitched red tile roofs, vaulted ceilings, arched doors and windows, and a stucco or adobe exterior. The floor plan is typically U-shaped, creating a central courtyard for a garden or fountain. Today, this style of house remains popular in California and Florida.

10. Farmhouse-style homes

The farmhouse was designed back in the early 1700s, built as housing for farmers, and all about practicality. Modern farmhouses still exhibit many of the same features that the original design included, like large, wraparound front porches, clapboard siding, large fireplaces, wood floors, eat-in kitchens, and oversized kitchen sinks. 

11. Mid-Century modern-style homes

Mid-century modern style is part of the modernism movement and dates back to post-World War II, and remained popular throughout the 1970s. A mid-century modern design is characterized by minimalism, clean lines, and floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll often see open layouts, and a mix of natural and manufactured materials for the interior elements like wood, stone, steel, and plastic.

 

Mid-century modern style homes are most popular in Oakland, CADenver, COSan Francisco, CA, and Seattle, WA, with a sale-to-list ratio as high as 131.5% in Oakland.

12. Victorian-style homes

Victorian-style homes were first seen during the Victorian Era from around 1860 to 1900. This house style is best described as a colorful dollhouse with romantic and distinctive features. Victorian-style homes have elaborate detailing in just about every part of the home, from the intricate wood trim, ornate staircases, stained glass, and decorative woodwork. They have steep gabled roofs, a front-facing gable, patterned shingles, bay windows, a round tower, and a front porch.

Victorian-style homes remain popular in Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA, with a sale-to-list ratio of 98.5% and 101.1%, respectively. 

12. Townhouse

Originating in Europe and eventually migrating to the United States, townhomes are most commonly found across cities in the United States. With the convenience of spacious layouts, townhomes offer more amenities than the condo styles and are lower maintenance than most residential homes. They’re typically two or three-story homes, usually sharing one or two walls with adjacent properties, and a rooftop deck to enjoy sprawling views.

Home styles with the highest sale-to-list ratio in the largest 12 US metros:

Metro Home Style Sale-to-list ratio % active listings
Phoenix, AZ Ranch 102.3% 4.0%
Contemporary 101.8% 2.0%
Atlanta, GA Craftsman 100% 1.9%
Ranch 99.9% 2.0%
New Construction 101.9% 3.0%
Portland, OR Ranch 105.4% 2.2%
New Construction 103.5% 11.2%
Craftsman 101.5% 2.0%
Oakland, CA Mid Century Modern 131.5% 1.2%
Craftsman 128.4% 2.2%
Contemporary 112.5% 4.4%
Boston, MA Victorian 98.5% 1.0%
Craftsman 99.1% 1.0%
Penthouse Unit 103.3% 1.0%
Chicago, IL Raised Ranch/Ranch 100.2% 1.0%
Contemporary 99.1% 1.3%
Elevator Building 99.0% 1.0%
Denver, CO Contemporary 101.5% 7.9%
Mid Century Modern 105.1% 1.0%
Modern Architecture 103% 1.1%
San Francisco, CA Mid Century Modern 122.8% 1.0%
Contemporary 102.6% 6.5%
Ranch 104.7% 2.4%
Seattle, WA Mid Century Modern 110.9% 1.0%
Craftsman 108% 3.9%
New Construction 105.4% 28.0%
San Diego, CA Ranch 102.5% 2.3%
Contemporary 100.7% 3.3%
New Construction 101.2.% 1.2%

*Per home trends listing data on Redfin.com, as of May 2021 

Individual results may vary. This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed real estate agent or licensed and bonded home services professional or appraiser.