Remodeling 101

Estimating the Cost

What exactly goes on behind the scenes of making a remodeling estimate or bid? Lots of careful measuring, planning, and number crunching. An experienced contractor still has to pay careful attention to the needs the homeowner has expressed, city or state regulations and code, architectural or engineering concerns, along with a finger on the pulse of current construction costs. 


So, what do you as homeowner need to be prepared when you call us for an estimate? We'll meet with you and want to hear your ideas about what you'd like. Pictures, a pinterest board, or a whole album on Houzz would be a great place to start. Communicate clearly and expect to listen as well as be heard.

Ben's son giving him a little "assistance" in the family business. 

Ben's son giving him a little "assistance" in the family business. 


At this point, we should have information to create a ballpark budget that we will present. Does the scope of the project and the budget fit your goals? The job we are starting this week spent a little time in this phase as the homeowners had to adjust the project scope a few times to fit their budget. 


Ready to move forward? Now's the time to meet with our team of architects and designer to establish the details of your project. This phase is a paid process, but there are no strings attached. 


And then? Be patient. Counting the cost well takes some time, experience, and problem solving that goes beyond many other service related fields. A custom remodeler is able to craft a customized plan for YOU. No cookie cutter pricing. You know those word problems that may have been  your worst nightmare in grammar school? It's a remodeler's stock and trade. We will present you with full pricing and get ready to start work if you are ready to say YES!

New Project -- before demo. We worked with these clients for a lengthy period of time to balance their budget with their needs. As a team, we perservered, and this week we are starting an addition. 8 foot bump out to the kitchen, a master bath redo, covered porch, & open deck. 

New Project -- before demo. We worked with these clients for a lengthy period of time to balance their budget with their needs. As a team, we perservered, and this week we are starting an addition. 8 foot bump out to the kitchen, a master bath redo, covered porch, & open deck. 

The skill (or perhaps the art) of creating a individualized package to meet our client's needs is a hallmark of company. We know that you want transparency, fidelity to what you as client want, and a well-thought out master plan. We are here to walk you through every step of the way! 

Insulation: the Spray Foam Way

Our two story reno was ready for their insulation installation (try to say that 10 times fast!), and our homeowners decided to go with spray foam. This was a perfect solution for our remodel, with new exterior walls, and some old exterior walls. Plus, the efficiency is superior to fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Benefits for spray foam include better home energy conservation, lower energy bills, better moisture control, and increased sale value. Sounds like a win-win!

Our highlighted vendor, Enviro Foam, offers a variety of insulation products, but their spray foam is composed of Icynene. 

Applied as a liquid, Icynene® expands to 100 times its volume in seconds to fill every crack and crevice while remaining flexible so that the integrity of the building envelope seal remains intact over time.
— EnviroFoam

Lovely hardiplank in all of its butter yellow glory! Don't worry, not the final house color. (The color is just the factory painted primer). 

Ready, set, foam!

Many thanks to our vendor, EnviroFoam for a great job!

Highlighted Vendors: EnviroFoam Tech

James Hardie Company

We have a complete list of trusted vendors here

Aging in Place: Redefined

Who says aging in place renovations have to be boring? Industrial looking fixtures, function over beauty. Our clients decided that although they were going to be forward thinking about their renovations, they would not abandon style. 

Aging in Place: the Facts

With approximately 10,000 people turning 65 everyday, 45% of all Homeowners will be over 55 by the year 2020.
— National Aging in Place Council

The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that over 70% of homeowners are making changes to their home to plan for their own future needs or the needs of their parents. What is the number one remodel? A barrier-free bathroom. Changes such as low threshold or no threshold showers, shower seats, single handle faucet controls, and single handle faucet controls are popular design solutions. Our homeowners decided to get rid of their bath, and create a large zero entry shower with handrails & a shower bar, but did not sacrifice any style to do so. 

Some before shots help paint the picture. The master bath was moderately sized with outdated wallpaper, shower stall and separate bath needed updating, reconfiguring, and some pizzazz. 

The stainless handrails do not detract from this zero-entry shower in the least. They are integrated into the design both by color and texture. 

DSC_9812 (2).jpg

Tile selected from Traditions in Tile combines a warm brown with cool pewter accent tones. The accent tiles are on trend, and the shower bar  is both a practical and beautiful choice. It allows the typically unwieldy handshower cord to be controlled, and turns hand-shower into a hands-free experience with a lot of flexibility.  

Aging in Place: With Style

Here come the style points in spades, though. Our homeowners went with some bold and on trend choices that are also appropriate for an aging-in place remodel. The custom vanity creates more space for wheelchair access in the bathroom, and the single handle faucet control is easier to maneuver. 

Check out these beautiful vessel sinks that really add some glitz to this bathroom. The pebble vessel bathroom sink sparkles and reflects the granite vanity top. 

This single channel tall spout faucet from Ferguson doesn't scream "aging in place remodel," it says on trend & glamor. 

This remodel should forever redefine your idea of aging in place or handicap accessible remodeling. It's possible to do it by thinking about the future AND the enjoying the present. Provide for future possibilities AND stay on trend. Together with Benjamin Andrew Construction, these homeowners created a space that is both beautiful and functional!

We'd love to talk to you more about your custom remodeling needs. Let us contact you today!

Highlighted Vendors:

Tile: Traditions in Tile

Plumbing Fixtures: Ferguson

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Stress-Free Remodeling

We've all heard the stories and seen the movies--the renovation project that turns nightmare. Even if you've never seen it, the phrase Money Pit is enough to keep you tossing and turning at night. 

"What if our project goes way over budget?"
"What if this project leads to unexpected repairs?"
"What if it takes too long?"

What if, what if? In this second edition in the Remodeling 101 series, we look at two absolute keys to having a stress-free remodel before you even get started: not lost in a nightmare but livin' the dream. 

1. Build a Trustworthy Team

It's not rocket science, of course. This isn't a secret tip -- but sometimes it's helpful to ask yourself how do I go about building a trustworthy team? Asking around to see who friends and family might recommend is a great first step, sometimes you may need something different. How do you go about finding trustworthy contractors, architects, or designers? 

One of the first places you might want to look are certification groups within the Remodeling & Home Improvement Industry. The foremost group, known as NARI (or National Association of the Remodeling Industry), conducts a thorough search of businesses before they are allowed membership, and even make members sign their Code of Ethics to make sure there is a consistent standard across all of the trades. 

Other up and coming internet platforms like Buildzoom keep track of contractor's licenses--using this data to compute scores for companies across the construction industry. 

Once you've got a handful of companies to think about, you will certainly want to see their past work and hear from previous clients. These days, companies make it easy for new clients to find them, research them, and connect with them-- take advantage of these platforms to go into your first meeting with some idea for the company's ethos and final work product.  It's completely appropriate to ask for references, and a good contractor will be happy to provide them. In our consumer driven age of the "review" -- it feels more secure knowing what other people think about the company you are interviewing. 

Lastly, you must determine if this company is a good fit for your project, your family, and you. Hard to quantify,  because a good fit is completely subjective & customized to you, it goes beyond the 5-star rating. Shake hands, have a face to face meeting, and make the call -- will this work? A good relationship will equal good communication, and good communication is the very best way to ensure stress free, timely, and within budget remodels. 

 2. Communicate Clearly With Your Team

Communication is a two-way street. Your contractor, sales rep, designer, or architect need to be good communicators (not just good talkers). On your side of the street, you have to be clear about what you want, be ready to ask questions, and make decisions.

Miscommunication leads to uncertainty and unfulfilled expectations, obstacles on the path to success. - Bill Asdal, "Remodeling Your Communication Skills"

Red flags about your team? If your contractor doesn't respond in a timely fashion or give you regular updates on the progress of your remodel, it can make the process miserable, even if the product is not. And who wants that?

Choose trustworthy professionals who excel at communicating with their clients and can capture your vision. The process doesn't have to be painstaking or anxiety-producing; it can, however, be free of stress, within your budget and timely with these two tips from our Remodeling 101 series. 

How does Benjamin Andrew Construction stack up? Here's what a homeowner {Morrell project} had to say: 

Benjamin Andrew Construction completed a major 2 story addition to our home. It was a “tricky one” because he was adding on to a solid log home. He was honest, professional and did an awesome job within the time frame promised! Ben communicated regularly, was easy to get in touch with, and stood behind his work. All of his sub contractors were top notch and the finishes in my home are beautiful. We are very happy and would highly recommend Benjamin Andrew Construction to anyone.
— Laina Morrell

We'd love to talk to you about your next remodeling project. Let us contact you to get the conversation started. 

Remodeling 101

Our new series, Remodeling 101, focuses on the basics. You've been daydreaming for years (or months) about finishing your basement, or adding on to your kitchen, or transforming your master bath, and now you are ready. You have the funds, the time, the right impetus to get moving on your dream. Now what should you do? You are probably already doing the first thing:

1. Research

In this internet age, there are so many resources at the click of the button. Don't miss out on the best places to brainstorm for ideas on the web.

  • Pinterest is practically a household name. Pins contain a mix of personal stories, blogs, DIY tips, and copycat looks to help you imitate designer looks. Pinterest allows you to save pictures you find anywhere across the web all in one convenient place. 
  • Design-driven sites like HGTV or Southern Living contain massive storehouses of pictures, along with helpful designer written articles.
  • Of course, for actual reviews of appliances, you can't pass up the big box websites or even Amazon! 
  • An up-and-comer in home design and planning is Houzz. Some homeowners may not have tapped into this because it is more focused than Pinterest. No recipes here. But, if you are looking for loads of photographs of actual work done for real homeowners, advice from actual pros involved in the projects -- then you should check Houzz out. How should you use Houzz? Create a profile and start searching through photos using keywords, generic ones such as "bathroom" or even specific ones like "Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter." You collect pictures that pique your interest in Ideabooks. Houzz also helps you connect with professionals, ask them questions, source materials, colors, and appliances. It even contains forums where you can crowdsource your design dilemmas. 

It's important to spend time on this research step, but equally important is getting out of research mode and putting some legs onto your ideas. 

2. Shop Around

This step will take you from your computer and into the real world. First, if you are not going the DIY route, decide what kind of help you need. An architect? A designer? A design/build firm that will handle it all?  Your goal in choosing a contractor is tapping into his or her expertise in the field. How can this person make my dream into reality?  Use their experience to refine your ideas into a plan.  Next, it is time to go shopping. Ask your designer for samples. Go to a showroom or a design center with a plan.  There is no substitute for hands-on, in person shopping for the most important aspects of your project. Virtual reality can only go so far. 

A smoothly run renovation project relies on the decisions you make before the project starts.

3. Decide

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost

Now that you've researched & shopped, you are ready to make some decisions. BEFORE you start your project. If flexibility needs to be built in to the project, great, but a smoothly run renovation project relies on the decisions you make before the project starts. Love that paint color, you think? Don't wait until the painters have painted one whole wall to fully commit to it. If you need more time to make your decisions, or you feel like you are missing some information that would help you decide, talk to your contractor. Talk to your decision-making team, but make that team a small group that works well together. Your project will flourish, instead of feeling continually road-blocked and stymied. Those points of decision can indeed feel momentous, but procrastinating won't make them any easier. In a remodeling project, making good choices will make "all of the difference."

Ready to consult with an expert and get started on your dream renovation? Let's get the conversation started.