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Most people will have the opportunity to build only once. If they don't have a good team, then they will never do it again. As such, it is good to familiarize oneself with the process as thoroughly as possible. Trust your team and enjoy the process. 


Renovations are often more complicated than new built construction. Discovering things about the house that have been previously covered up can delay a project from days to months depending on the severity. These things need to be thought of in the programming stage to allow for such along the way. This does affect the budget too, so its always a good idea to have a 'reserve fund' for the renovation.

The design and construction process  - SIX PHASES;








the rule of thumb in construction


[Choose two]


To understand what can be done and what we would like to accomplish, we create an analysis of the site/ the existing conditions and a program.
The analysis is a review of the site, zoning and permit requirements. The program is a list of rooms and areas allocated to them. Together they give us the ability to understand how to proceed in regards to record drawings, the design phase, the contracts to propose and the contractors we would like to consider.
It is a good option to do the program and analysis phase on a time and material basis, as a scope of work cannot yet be established.



This phase usually starts with the investigation of the existing site; its size, physical properties, views, zoning requirements, orientation etc.


For renovations: This phase includes preparing drawings of the existing structure. These might only consist of a small part of a house or an entire multifamily building, depending on what we are trying to accomplish. New bylaws or changes to building codes might require us to review the entire existing structure to make the most of the renovation. A balance needs to be found between accuracy and the cost of spending time on existing documentation.



During the design phase we take the requirements and limitations of the first two phases, the program/analysis phase and/or the record drawing phase, and produce a conceptual design. Depending on the options that the client would like to consider, several conceptual designs can be produced.

After the concept design phase, permit drawings are created. Depending on the clients approach to contractors, construction drawings can be created. To create construction drawings, a finished interior design is required. Basically we can thus divide the design phase into the following categories:

1. Conceptual Design
2. Design Development
3. Permit Documents
4. Construction Drawings
5. Interior Design

It is good to understand the importance of having a completed design. The design is what is used by contractors to provide a price for the construction. To get competitive pricing, we need to make sure that the contractors are pricing the project based on the same information so that the bids can be justly compared.


A variety of different contract options are available to the client. Each one of these affects the project as a whole. In principal, contracts outline who takes the risk for what, and what the payment for the involved risk and work is to be. The more risk one takes, the more one needs to be paid.
Depending on the extent of the construction, the municipality might require the contractor to provide a ‘New Home Warranty’. The typical cost for a ‘New Home Warranty’ is 20% of the construction cost.

Typical contracts would be:
1. Cost plus
2. Fixed price
3. Project management

The ‘Cost plus’ contract is the cost of everyone that the contractor employs, plus a fee. The fee is usually a percentage in the range of 5% to 15% depending on the complexity and the scope of work.

The ‘Fixed price’ contract is a detailed description of what the owners require the contractor to build for a fixed price. This can include anything from appliances to the design cost.
‘Project management’ is when the owners act as the general contractor and employs a project manager to ensure that the trades perform as required. The typical project management fee is 10% of all costs related to the contract.


Depending on the type of work of construction and the contract that the owner has with the contractor, the work can be done with only permit documents. This means that a huge amount of information will have to be provided by the client to the contractor during the construction. It also means that all the items specified after the fact, will only be priced after the fact. This makes the project management and pricing more complicated and costly.

The biggest reason that drives cost up in construction is changes made by the client after the construction has started. This often happens in conjunction with site visits, and it is important for the client to understand that the finished space is very hard to visualize during the construction. We advise owners to visit the building site together with the construction team and to trust the expertise and experience that they have of the difference between an undergoing construction process and a finished build.


Once the owners move into their new home, it takes time for them to get used to how everything works and they sometimes notice things that are not up to the standard of finish that they agreed on with the contractor, or perhaps items that wear out quicker than they should. Because of this, the building industry has a system in place called a ‘deficiency list’. This is a list of items that need to be amended or finished after the owners have moved in. It is wise to add that a review of the construction should occur six to eight months after the construction is finished to the initial contract. It is not uncommon to allocate 3% to 5% of the construction cost to the amendments involved with the deficiency list.

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