With the escalating prices in housing, more homeowners are choosing to remodel or add rooms to their existing home, because the numbers just don’t work. While it’s true that homeowners may make more money on selling their existing home, good luck in finding an affordable replacement with all the amenities you desire. Higher priced homes are losing their bells and whistles every day as builders try to find ways to cut costs.
The first step in a successful home renovation or remodel is having a good, detailed set of construction plans, especially in the state of Florida. Unlike other states, residential construction plans in Florida must include a detailed plot plan and be engineered with structural materials, doors and windows that have Florida Product Approvals.
Homeowners new to Florida typically have no idea about the regulations regarding building in the state. The first big mistake many of them make is purchasing a set of online construction plans, which are not designed in accordance with Florida Building Code. Because plans are normally copy written by the original designer, a Florida designer is prohibited from copying the plans and changing the structural components to meet Florida Building Code. In most cases, that set of online plans are of no use except for preliminary planning.
The first call many homeowners make for a remodel or addition project is to a builder. However, that can come with challenges, especially if the builder has your construction plans drawn. Once the plans are drawn by a builder, they will most likely control the use of the plans and not allow other builders to use them. In short, the homeowner is locked into one builder and the homeowner cannot competitively price their project or seek a second opinion on building options.
The best advice for homeowners who want to do a remodel or addition project is to find a home design firm that will draw a preliminary set of construction plans, which can be used to gather ideas; be discussed with multiple builders and subcontractors; and meet Florida’s tough hurricane building codes. Most design firms will provide a preliminary set of construction plans at a lower cost, because the drawings are not fully detailed out or ready for permitting. Plus, the cost typically reduces the price of the final drawings. Having a preliminary set of construction plans puts the homeowner in charge of their project.
The other big element in construction planning that many homeowners don’t recognize is the power of a tape measure. Most homeowners can obtain a copy of their home’s original building plans from the local building department, original builder or new homeowner’s realty packet given to them when the home was purchased. There is a propensity by homeowners to take every measure and detail on their construction plan as if it were the gospel from the Bible.
Well, it isn’t.
Very few residential new home builders go back and do as-built plans. It is very common for changes to be made in windows, doors, room sizes and truss design during the construction of a home to reflect the current project owner’s wants. A lot of changes occur even on repetitive model homes because of dumb mistakes in construction such as incorrect sizing for doors, windows or the concrete slab. All that really matters in most residential projects during construction is that the change meets the Florida Building Code and can pass inspection.
Because there are so many changes in original construction plans during construction, it’s imperative that during any remodel or addition your building professional comes to your job site to take measurements. This is especially true when matching existing doors and windows or when the project requires additional roof trusses. The problem for roof trusses is that minor variances in the slab and wall heights can kick trusses up, which will identify exactly where the remodel or addition started or ended. You should not see any changes in the roof line.
Little doubt, the high price in housing is going to force homeowners to tackle more projects. However, taking charge of the process; detailing out specifics in the construction plans; and double checking measurements with an old-fashioned tape measure will save a lot of time, money and misery.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show that airs on LSTV on Xfinity 13, Spectrum 498, Prism 83, and LakeSumterTV.com... M/W/F at 1:00pm and 6:30pm, Tu/Th at 9:00am and 4:00pm, and Saturdays at 7:00am, Noon, and 6:00pm.