For the curious.

Frequently Asked Questions

Remodeling

How much does it cost to remodel a kitchen/bath?

Depends.

Let me ask you this: how much does it cost to buy a new car? Hard to believe that you can spend — hang on to your Calvins — $20,000 on a new Ford Fiesta! It’s got cloth seats; an engine that sounds like a box of honeybees; and a millennial security system better known as a manual transmission.

On the other hand, you could spend well over $100,000 on any number of luxury cars that will take you from zero to 60 MPH in under four seconds, blow cold air up your keister in August, and make Nirvana sound like they were riding in the back seat.

Luxury, performance, bling; they all cost.

Kitchens and baths are the same. Vinyl sheet flooring, laminate counters, and my-old-toilet-is-good-enough-for-me plumbing fixtures has one price tag while heated tile floors, a steam shower, and slab counters comes with another.

Typical Kitchen: $65,000-100,000, including new appliances, custom cabinets, slab counters, new plumbing and lighting fixtures, flooring, and paint.

Typical Master Bathroom: $40,000-60,000, including custom cabinets, slab counters, new plumbing and lighting fixtures, tile flooring, custom tile shower and paint.

Will a remodel improve my home’s value?

We get this one a lot.

Fact is, there is no remodel project that we know of that will put more money in your pocket than you spend on construction. Sure, a nice remodel adds value to the property, but don’t expect to fully recover the cost of the project. In fact, the number one remodel project for ROI in 2019 – updating the garage door – recoups only 97.5% of the cost, while the average for the top 20 remodeling projects is less than 60% (https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2019/).

The only way to maximize your return on investment is to stay in your house long enough to enjoy the appreciation that time has typically afforded homeowners, that is until sub-prime lenders started passing out Benjamins like Trump jeers at a Bernie Sanders rally.

Here’s our take: If you love your neighborhood or just can’t stand the thought of moving, if you plan — as some of our clients tell us they do — to stay in your home until the cows come home, then remodel away and don’t fret over your home becoming the most expensive house on the block. You’re going to live in it so make sure it meets your lifestyle needs, wants, and desires. On the other hand, if you don’t plan on staying until ol’ Mabel comes back to milk, it probably doesn’t make sense to remodel. You just won’t get your money back. That said, while a new kitchen might not pay you back in spades if you stick a “For Sale” in the yard two weeks after the job is completed, it might make it stand out in the market and lead to a quick sale.

How long does it take to do a major remodel?

Kitchen or bath remodels rarely take us more than 6-8 weeks to complete because the work scope is narrow and clearly defined. Larger projects, like whole house remodels or additions that require building plans and engineering, can take anywhere from 3-9 months to complete, sometimes longer. Every job is different.

As the homeowner, one thing that you can do to help ensure steady job progress is to make all your design and material selections up front and then stick to them. Changing your shower tile, for example, is not only costly but the delay in reordering could be followed by a tile setter whose schedule just got pushed out three weeks.

Is remodeling tax deductible?

Hey, we’re not tax attorneys so we’d rather suggest some reading on the subject, as well as a cup of coffee with your accountant. Below is a surface scratch of what is available online:

Home improvements and your taxes.

Federal tax deductions for home renovation.

Remodeling your kitchen, or upgrading your home office? Here’s what you can write off your taxes.

How should we prepare for a remodel?

  1. Start by researching and planning your project completely. Knowing all your design and material choices ahead of time gives your project the best chance to be an on-time success.
  2. Set a realistic budget for your family and for your zip code. Joanna Gaines lives in Waco, Texas, and on HGTV where reality does not always seem to be the order of the day. Suffice it to say that television pricing from another part of the country is about as relevant to the Pacific Northwest as snowshoes are to Myrtle Beach. The Appraisal Institute recommends creating a budget based on the approximate value of each room as a percentage of the overall value of the home. (See “Renovation Costs: Reframing Homeowner Expectations” from houzz.com/houzz-pro.) This is a good starting point as it takes into consideration the disparity of home values across the country. Some basic guidelines include:
  • Kitchens 10-15%
  • Master Bath 10%
  • Guest Bath 5%
  • Finished Attic/Basement 10-15%
  • Patio/Deck 2-5%
  • Bedrooms 1-3%
  1. Communication is the key to success. Be sure to supply your project manager with your telephone and email contact information and check your email regularly for important items from us. We track email communication in our job management system so your selections and answers to key questions are saved for reference. We can give you online access to the construction calendar and you can follow job progress by viewing the job log and any photos that your project manager uploads.
  2. Clear the workspace and give workers an unobstructed path from the access door you help us designate. Move furniture, wall hangings, and other treasures out of the room. Depending on your home setup, you may need to consider moving your belongings to a storage facility offsite or a pod you rent for your driveway.
  3. Keep children and pets safe. Curious kiddos and Fido will be tempted to see what’s happening in your home. While we’d love nothing better than to inspire a future builder or job site mascot, we don’t want any of your loved ones getting hurt. Please keep them out of the construction zone and away from tools and materials.
  4. Prepare for deliveries. Lots of materials, debris receptacles, and workers will be coming and going from the job site each day. Create a dry space — usually the garage — to store materials once they are delivered.
  5. Remodeling will create a lot of dust. We will protect the floor and put up plastic barricades to contain most of it. You can help us by closing doors and avoid running central air while sanding is taking place.

Is living through a remodel stressful?

Does the Tin Man have a sheet metal backside?

Simply put, even when budgets and schedules are on target, remodel jobs cost more and take longer than any homeowner would like. That said, here are a few pointers to help keep you close to your Zen state:

  1. Get away from the job site. Take a walk, hit the gym, take the kids out for dinner, or plan the longest getaway possible. During a remodel, your house will be in disarray. Removing yourself from it is a great strategy.
  2. Our project managers are responsible for building, maintaining, and updating the construction schedule. When you log into our job management system, you can view the schedule. Knowing what will happen and when will give you peace of mind and a heads-up on what strangers will be inside your home next.
  3. Expect the unexpected. Reading a construction schedule is like watching the weather report: the further out you look, the less accurate it becomes. Typically, we meet our goals for completion, even as tasks in the middle get shuffled around. Weather, material delays, change orders, and trade partner schedules are just some of the things that can influence the schedule. Look, nobody likes watching the sausage get made but the result is pretty yummy. Remain flexible and we are confident that you will like the finished product, which will most certainly outweigh the inevitable inconveniences involved.
  4. Communicate with our team. We’d always like to be on the same page with you about expectations and the defined scope of work. If you have a question or concern, please let us know.
  5. When do I get my kitchen back? If you are remodeling your kitchen, be prepared for extra stress. Most kitchen remodels involve demolishing the kitchen sink and counters, as well as updating appliances. Doing without those things poses a special challenge for families. Here are some ideas that might make the process more manageable:
  • If you have it, utilize a secondary fridge — maybe the one in the garage — or relocate your existing fridge temporarily to another part of the house. You may not be cooking as much but hey, at least you’ll be able to keep your PBRs cold.
  • Consider microwave meals and non-perishable food items that you can warm up in another part of the house.
  • Use disposable plates and flatware. Another option is to scrape all dishes completely free of food scraps and wash them in the laundry sink or bathtub.
  • Eat out. This can get expensive, but you may plan a few meals away from the house. You won’t have to do the dishes or look at the chaos for a couple hours.

What is the roll of a contractor in a remodel?

Contractors come in many shapes and sizes. Fazzolari is full-service custom builder that can take you from the infant stages of design and project development to job completion. Below are several of our key functions:

  • Initial rough estimate
  • Project design and development
  • Product selection
  • Job bidding/pricing
  • Contract
  • Construction schedule creation and maintenance
  • Schedule work internally and with external trade partners
  • Quality control
  • Manage deliveries
  • Job site cleanliness
  • Debris off-hauling
  • Billing
  • Warranty

What happens during demolition?

Pry bars and hammers and trashcans, oh my!

Think of demo as the storm before the calm. It’s when we come in and rip out all the old items in a room — like counters and cabinets, and flooring — throw them away and haul them off for you before your new space can be rebuilt and your lives can return to normal. It ain’t pretty or delicate work and it creates a mess. Our job is to make sure that the mess is contained properly and that nothing gets damaged that isn’t supposed to be.

Prior to demo, we test for asbestos contamination. Asbestos is a carcinogen that must be contained and disposed of properly when found in building materials. It is commonly found in certain adhesives, insulation, drywall, and flooring. When disturbed, building products containing asbestos create dust particles that can be hazardous to those exposed. Products testing positive for asbestos are certified and must be removed and disposed of by hazardous material experts. Most local dumpsites will not accept construction debris without a “clean” certification.

What happens if we don’t like it?

Occasionally, we begin a project only to learn that the newly installed tile backsplash that the homeowner loved in the showroom doesn’t look the same when it reflects, say, the softer light of an August sunset.

It simply must go!

We can make that happen for you but there is a cost. Not only will labor be required to demo the initial selection, but additional time must be spent researching and coordinating the new order (even if you decide against it), not to mention buying new tile and hiring a crew to install it. Demo may require us to bring other trades back as well.

Decisions like this create delays — your project will not be finished on time — and trigger change orders or fees that most contractors assess for adding to the original scope of work.

Frequently Asked Questions

New Construction

What is new home construction?

We’re going to resist the temptation to elaborate on the pressure Larry Fortensky must have felt the night he became Elizabeth Taylor’s seventh husband. Suffice it to say that if instead of tossing a garter to a bunch of his best buddies Larry had been shopping for a new home, he was definitely focused on the “pre-owned” market.

It’s not for everyone.

If you want the honeymoon phase of your next home to be something Madonna sang about, you should consider new construction. Doing so guarantees that everything in the house is new and that you will be the first one to … er, huh … use it.

Other benefits may include — at least to some degree, and depending on when you enter a contract —the ability to select your own finishes, fixtures, and décor; the inclusion of the latest in energy efficiency, building science and home automation; cutting edge architecture and design; and a builder’s warranty which can give you some piece of mind while your new home takes root.

New homes can be built as “spec” projects, which means that the builder or his investors is speculating on the sale of the home once it is completed, or as custom client-financed projects in which the homeowner pays for the construction costs on defined intervals, usually monthly. Both would be considered new construction but while spec homes are available with limited plans and material selections, truly custom homes give you the ability to fully design and plan the home of your dreams.

All new construction involves a ton of planning, decision-making (either by the homeowner, the builder, or an architect/designer), engineering, and permitting through a local building authority. Bare dirt must be moved and improved with utility infrastructure. Foundations must be excavated and poured. And a herd of trade partners and suppliers must be lined up to do everything from framing the structure and putting a roof overhead to shipping and installing the porcelain throne that sits in your new master bathroom.

What is “custom” construction?

You know that new neighborhood that suddenly popped up where the old Peterson farm used to be? Chances are those three hundred new homes were built using the same three or four house plans over and over again. Makes us think of Christmas cookies (Wait, we love Christmas cookies, even if they all look alike!). If you get in early enough on one of those places, you might get to pick your floor plan and from a small handful of options for countertops, paint colors, and carpet. Generally speaking, however, the builder keeps a pretty tight grip on things and won’t let you stray too far.

That’s not custom construction.

With truly custom projects, you have complete control over the plans and a virtual bevy of selections for every finish and detail imaginable. Two granite options? Hah, we’ll give you a hundred! Same with flooring, appliances, and plumbing and lighting fixtures. You’re only limited by your budget and the time it takes you to make decisions.

Is new home construction for me?

If you’ve always dreamed of designing your own home on a lot you choose, making the house function just as your family needs it to, and are bored by the cookie cutter options you see popping up everywhere, then a new custom home may be your mug of Earl Grey.

But here’s the thing: it’s probably going to cost you more than a pre-owned home, it’s a messy job that takes a long time to complete, and you’ll be making a ton of decisions at every phase with more options to choose from than a young Tom Selleck on prom night. If you still like the idea of owning a brand new home but need to move in quickly, have a tight budget, or simply dread the thought of making endless decisions, you might be better suited for a new spec home where most of the decisions have been made for you.

How much does new home construction cost?

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017, the national median was $101.25 per square foot. A footnote explained that the design and location could change the price considerably.

No stuff!

Jump on Zillow sometime and look up a 2,500 SF home for sale with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in Flandreau, South Dakota ($65-90/SF). Then do the same in Hillsborough, California ($1,088-1,268) and finally in the town where you live. It’s all over the road! The same is true for new construction where labor costs currently seem to be the biggest driver in price escalation. Too many jobs, not enough skilled labor.

Sure, we’re biased but with a mild climate, beautiful scenic landscapes, and easy access to a vast outdoor wonderland, the Pacific Northwest is a pretty special place to call home. And compared to Hillsborough, a per square foot price in the $200-300 range in the Portland/Vancouver area, depending on finishes, design, and some other important factors, doesn’t sound all that bad. Would $75 per square foot be better? Absolutely! But do you really wanna live in Flandreau?

How long does it take to build a new home?

On a typical new home, we’d say 9-12 months.

How do builders and architects work together?

Architects are experts in design so naturally we value their ideas and input. We are experts in building homes so we hope that the architects we work with value our construction experience and our role in managing the budget for the client. Aretha Franklin said it best: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” If builders and architects recognize and respect these respective roles, the ride should be pretty smooth.

The best way to create an effective builder-architect relationship is to communicate early and often. Bi-weekly or monthly meetings keep everyone on the same page. It’s also a great way to keep you, the homeowner, up to speed.

Sock it to me.

How does Fazzolari select their subs and partners?

The term “sub” has a bad ring to our ears. Sort of implies that a general contractor like Fazzolari somehow breathes the purer air of Everest. We do use the term, but only to describe tradespeople who have proven themselves unreliable, irresponsible, or incapable of producing the quality we expect.

We prefer to use the term “trade partner” instead. These are folks we’ve worked with many, many times and have proven their value with their excellent work, dependability, and professionalism.

If you choose to work with Fazzolari, you won’t need to worry about selecting trade partners. That’s part of what you pay us for.

How many bids should we get?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a bid and an estimate. A bid is a firm number based on a defined scope of work and specific product or material selections. An estimate is nothing more than a rough guess.

We might estimate a price for you just to get “in the ballpark” and keep the conversation moving forward, but we will caution you as to the estimate’s reliability. We’d never want you to go to the bank with it or to make a builder decision based solely on comparing estimates. There are simply too many unknowns and too many assumptions being made about a project that lacks definition. Homeowners who hire a builder based on a rough estimate that is, say, $75,000 less than his competition may end up spending way more to complete the job than promised, or worse, end up with an unfinished project because the builder they hired was going broke and walked off the job.

Oh, it happens.

The only way to get accurate pricing is to have a bid package prepared for your project. This starts with a complete set of building plans that are engineered to specify the necessary footings, foundation, and framing members required to support the structure. After that, you will need to meet with siding, roofing, window, door, cabinet, countertop, plumbing, lighting, flooring, tile, glass, paint, and appliance suppliers — just to name a few — to select the products that will go in your home. Once all our suppliers and trade partners know the complete scope of work and the specific products you want, they can return detailed pricing to us. We compile all of this and share it with you.

Bid completion is a time-consuming process that involves a lot of people. When done properly, it provides the most accurate pricing possible. You should expect to pay something for this service.

Look, you can get as many bids as you like. But if all builders are using the same plans and product/material selections, then their prices are probably going to be pretty close.

We don’t want to discount the importance of cost here but we’d like to suggest that instead of simply seeking out bids from builders, consider interviewing a few instead. Go see examples of their work to get a feel for their build quality and talk to them about the steps they take to construct a home that functions as it should and that you will be proud to live in. Ask them for references and spend a little time getting to know them. Building a house is a long and expensive project so you’ll want to work with someone you connect with.

When should we remodel vs building new?

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Who will be our project manager?

Our lead project managers are Paul Huckaby, a master finish carpenter who has been with Fazzolari for more than a decade, and Mark Haley, an industry pro who ran his own framing company for years. Both have strong relationships with our trade partners, a keen eye for detail, and a mission to please our clients.

What is the timeline for billing?

We bill monthly for the work that has been completed to that point.

Resources for people building their first custom home:

“How to Choose a Home Builder,” National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“5 Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Builder,” Custom Home Resource.

Houzz.com, Houzz.