No doubt about it: building or remodeling a home can be stressful. For many people, it’s the biggest financial and emotional investment they’ve ever made and the process can feel like a roller coaster ride.
But you can mitigate that stress and prevent unwelcome surprises by understanding how the industry works and how changes in recent years affect the consumer, according to Benny Sandrini of Benny Sandrini Construction.
The most important first step is doing preliminary research on your contractor. “Make sure they’re licensed and bonded,” says Debbie Sandrini, Benny’s wife and business partner. “Through the L&I website, you can check for violations and make sure they’re up to date.”
The rising cost of insurance has made it tougher for companies that follow the rules, she says, opening the door for fly-by-night operations that tar the entire industry with their unethical ways. “Contractors get a bad rap for costing a fortune and not coming back to finish the work,” she explains.
One red flag is contractors who ask for down payments or money up front. “That’s a big no-no,” says Sandrini. “No customer should have to give money up front for work that hasn’t been done yet. A lot of people have had bad experiences.”
The Sandrinis bill monthly for whatever work they’ve done. On estimate projects, the full amount is due when the job is done.
The exceptions to the rule are specialty items where the supplier will need payment in advance. “In most cases, we’ll pay for it ourselves, but sometimes it’s cheaper for the customer to pay for something like a customized door up front,” she says.
Another change that affects the building process is the cost of materials. “Back in the day, contractors used to get a discount from suppliers on certain items, and that savings was passed on to the consumer,” says Debbie. “When Home Depot came in, that completely disappeared.”
However, many clients still expect materials to cost less, not understanding how the industry has shifted, she says. “We give an estimate of all of our materials and discuss them with our customers, but they still don’t realize the cost,” she says. “They shouldn’t be surprised.”
It’s also important to understand cost when it comes to square footage. “A few years back a lot of contractors, especially dry wall contractors, would charge by the square foot,” explains Sandrini. However, all spaces are not created equal. “It depends on things like fixtures,” she says. “The kitchen and the bathroom are going to be the most expensive rooms in the house.”
Benny Sandrini Construction gives an overall estimate that includes “everything from ground to turnkey,” she says. “I can tell a customers that if they want to build a new home from start to finish, it’s going to cost between $80 and $120 per square foot.”
The main thing to watch out for? Communication. “Your contractor should be having constant communication with you,” says Debbie. “You don’t want to hire someone who just sends out a crew and you never see them again. You’re a paying customer and that contractor should be on the job site.”
For more information about Benny Sandrini Construction, visit Benny Sandrini Construction’s website or call 360-266-1302.