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Table of Contents
(Skip to a section by clicking on a chapter heading)
Introduction to Odell
Part 1: Types of Contractors
Part 2: Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Part 3: What is Overhead? And How Does It Help You (The Client?)
Step 1: Initial Project Exploration
Step 2: On-Site Consultation
Step 3: Design
Step 4: Project Development
Step 5: Construction
Step 6: Project Completion
Part 1: Types of Services - Timelines and Average Price Ranges
Part 2: Ballpark Estimate vs. Fixed-Price Contract (Why Design is so Important)
Part 3: Tips for Construction Prep
Introduction to Odell
Built on a rock-solid reputation, our team prides itself on honesty, integrity, and the highest quality of work. Meticulous attention to detail, open communication, and building relationships with our clients and community is the cornerstone of our business.
With several decades in the building industry, high-end finish carpentry and artisan craftsmanship are the signatures of our skilled and dedicated carpenters. Most of our design and construction work is completed in-house, with the exception of using subcontractors for specialty items or trades.
Rooted in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake, Ohio, we are consistently keeping up with the latest remodeling trends and innovative solutions that marry both beauty and functionality. We encourage our employees to continue their education to enhance overall knowledge and personal growth, in addition to working toward industry certifications.
We hope that this guide clears up any misconceptions or myths about the remodeling industry, and further educates homeowners on what to expect during the home renovation process from start to finish.
Part 1: Types of Contractors
Trade specific and specialty contractors can be hired either directly by homeowners, or by a general contractor managing a project. Examples of these contractors are roofers, window companies, painters, plumbers, HVAC, electricians, handyman businesses, and the like. These companies are structured in a way to make tasks in their respective fields the most cost effective and efficient. These contractors are most needed for replacement services, or the occasional emergency or other disturbance that affects the well-being of the homeowner.
Unfortunately, restoration contractors are usually only needed during less than ideal circumstances when a home is damaged by a disaster such as a fire or flood. Other reasons may include mold, foundation cracking, or structure dilapidation. Restoration specialists are equipped to be available at a shorter notice due to these safety hazards and emergencies. Once timeline is given on the restoration, the homeowner will have the option to either use the restoration company’s remodeling services if available, or call a remodeler.
3.) Independent contractors
These contractors typically work out of their own homes and trucks or vans. Before hiring an independent contractor, make sure they are licensed, insured, provide workman’s comp, have positive referrals and reviews, and are registered in your city. Since these contractors are usually single person operations, they are mostly used for smaller projects.
4.) General contractors
All design-build remodelers are general contractors, however not all general contractors are design-build. General contractors use their employees and/or hire subcontractors and manage schedules, but aren’t involved with the design development, drawings, or execution. The lack of contractor-client relationship makes this more of a business transaction.
Separate entities put homeowners in the position of piecemealing the design and construction of their projects together, lacking a single point of contact. Subcontractor communication is also common, leading to possibly longer, drawn-out project timelines due to this disconnect. If a homeowner wants to save money on their remodel, a general contractor will typically cost less than a design-build remodeler.
5.) Design-Build Remodelers
The project is encased in a single contract, with design and construction collaborating during every aspect of the remodel. Design-build remodelers act as an interior designer and general contractor. This enables a cohesive relationship from start to finish, and reduces the risk of poor communication and scheduling. Homeowners then have a single point of contact and guidance throughout the entire process: customer service, project exploration, drawings and renderings, material and product selections, construction, and the finished product. In turn, this helps build a tremendous company-client relationship because the remodeler is by the homeowner’s side, navigating them through every step of the renovation.
6.) The Odell Design-Build Method
Odell Construction Inc. has in-house designers that can produce schematic and construction drawings, full-time carpenters, and reliable strategic partners with whom we have built solid relationships with. We offer turnkey service and work very closely with our clients throughout the entire remodeling process. From listening to wants, needs, and pain points, to designing the space, assisting with product and material selections, project scheduling, construction, finish work, and post-project warranties. This creates an impactful company-client relationship and provides a single point of contact for the entire remodeling project.
Our clients value that one-on-one relationship and someone that’s on their side every step of the way. This allows for every part of the process to be cohesive and as seamless as possible. Design and construction are so intertwined that projects are less likely to have design flaws or execution issues. However, this also means that there is a lead time of at least a few months, so don’t hesitate to start the initial conversation! The critical design process shouldn’t be rushed, for it is necessary for the success of any project, big or small. Design, construction, and finish carpentry are all under one roof, to ensure the utmost quality control, utilizing subcontractors for specialty trades, or other tasks as needed.
(For more information, please see our process in Chapter 3)
Part 2: Tips for Hiring a Contractor
1.) When should you hire?
Always think ahead. Reputable contractors will be booked out months in advanced due to already contracted projects. This is a great sign of the health of the company, and this lead time is used to design the space, select products and materials, pull permits, and create a construction schedule.
It’s never too soon to start the initial conversation due to this lead time plus construction time. For example, a kitchen remodel can take 2-4 months for drawings and design, in addition to the 4-12 weeks of construction depending on the size and scope of the project. This lead time also allows homeowners to seek any additional financing if needed, or plan around life events, seasons, and holidays.
When researching companies, identify those that are similarly structured, comparing apples to apples to get similar quotes. If there’s an extremely low bid out of the bunch, be wary, they could be luring you in to signing a contract only to tack on additional costs later.
2.) Vet, vet, vet (and vet some more)
With the enormous presence of social media and other digital technologies today, reviews across several platforms are readily available. Between the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Guild Quality, Facebook, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Houzz, Nextdoor, Google, and other review and recommendation sites, there isn’t any lack of customer feedback.
Read reviews, search for industry and community affiliations, and ask your neighbors, family or friends for solid recommendations. Any remodeling project is a huge investment of time and resources, so you owe it to yourself to make sure you hire the right people, especially since you are welcoming them into your home. Feeling a high level of comfort and trust should be a top priority of the hiring decision.
Positive reviews are obviously desirable, but if the company has a negative review, read the company’s response to them. True character comes out when faced with negativity and accusations. If you find companies that are immersed in the community, sponsor and volunteer for local events, and are industry accredited, you are headed in the right direction.
3.) Avoid red flags
No reputable remodeling contractor will take the full, or majority of, payment up front. They will also always keep and open line of communication, expertly answer any questions or concerns you may have, present a contract that clearly lays out project scope, timeline, and payment terms, and will always guarantee their work. Properly vetting companies with these tips should help you avoid common scams that unfortunately give this industry the occasional undesirable stereotype.
4.) Important factors to consider
Aside from the vetting tips above, one of the most important factors to consider is chemistry. All successful relationships are built on a solid foundation of trust, and the contractor-client relationship shouldn’t be any different. Trust your instincts and make sure you can communicate effectively with the contractor, and that your partnership is two-sided.
Lastly, make sure the entire project is planned out start to finish before construction starts. This ensures that the plan execution gets primary focus, and all the homeowner needs to think about during the remodel is the construction disturbance, not stressing about design.
Part 3: What is Overhead? And How Does It help You (The Client?)
In its simplest terms, overhead is a business’ operating expense. Previously, in Chapter 2: Part 1 of the Guide, we mentioned that all design-build contractors are general contractors (GCs), but not all GCs are design-build, and that GCs will generally be a less expensive approach to a remodeling project. The main culprit of this? Overhead.
Design-build remodelers are a packaged deal that usually includes in-house interior designers and carpenters, office and office staff, shop space, and a fleet of vehicles. Some intangible items include insurance, taxes, employee benefits, and other expenses that aid in the overall health of the company.
Here is an outline from an article on Forbes.com that perfectly explains all of the contractor fees and how they benefit you (the client.)
1.) Insurance – general liability, property, workman’s compensation for client/contractor protection
2.) Taxes – contributing to your local economy
3.) Labor burden – supplying full-time employees with competitive salaries and benefits, attracting best candidates
4.) Office and office staff – brick and mortar space to meet with designers/staff, office manager that answers phone calls, handles paperwork and receipts
5.) Transportation – reliable vehicles for employees to arrive promptly to job, haul trash away from project
6.) Communication – phone calls, emails, internet series, proves that communication is a high priority
7.) Warranty – warranty items are funded from company profits; therefore, this adds a level of security that not only will work under warranty be fixed, but that contractor will have all more reason to complete work correctly the first time
8.) Marketing – ensures company will be in business for a long time in case you need them for future projects or warranty claims
Please see full article for additional details:
Other uses of overhead not listed above include: material handling, equipment, tools and other resources needed to efficiently complete projects, supplies, production and design management, accountability for project, profit that allows for research and development, and employee training and continuing education.
Be rest assured, all of these above elements help maintain the quality control of your project, as well as the communication within the client-contractor relationship. Whether or not all of the above services are required for a project, these associated expenses must be covered and distributed across all projects. For this reason, a design-build firm is a better fit for overall projects (i.e. kitchen, bath, whole house, basement remodel or additions) where a client is utilizing the services provided, as opposed to smaller projects (i.e. tile backsplash, drywall repairs, painting) where, for example, design would not be needed.
Markup, which is mostly made up of overhead, is included in all construction contracts (lump sum fixed-price or cost plus) in order for the contractor to remain operational. By writing this in a narrative that displays how contractor overhead helps you (the client), we hope to clear up any confusion or misconceptions about the topic.
*This design-build process is that of Odell Construction Inc. only, as other companies may vary.
Step 1: Initial Project Exploration
Please allow up to 2 business days for our team to respond to your inquiry
Once you contact us and we learn a little more about you and your project, we will send you a “Welcome Email” containing several important components including a link to the process page on our website, as well as a link to the Initial Project Exploration Form. This form allows us to begin understanding not only what you are looking for in the project, but also in a remodeling company. Sharing with us your wants and needs for the project, and the pain points you are hoping to solve, allows our team to best prepare for the on-site consultation.
Upon completion of the Initial Project Exploration Form, we will follow up to schedule the on-site visit. We schedule our appointments in one-hour time windows during regular business hours. This time window allows for flexibility from one appointment to the next ensuring thoroughness during the on-site visit, and ample amount of time per consultation. We will confirm your appointment 1-2 days beforehand, and will call ahead en route to give you a 10-30 minute notice. Please note that if we do not receive a response from the confirmation, that the appointment will either be cancelled, or rescheduled if needed.
Step 2: On-Site Consultation
The scheduled on-site consultation allows for the opportunity to have a more in-depth conversation regarding your project and to discuss the possibilities of scope of work, timelines, and realistic budget expectations. Our team member will take necessary measurements and pictures of the existing space in order to provide a ballpark estimate for the project.
In preparation for the on-site consultation, we request that clients develop a list of “wants” and “must-haves”, have an idea of types of materials that may be chosen, gather any inspirational pictures, and prioritize elements within the remodel to discuss during the meeting. This allows us to help in suggesting solutions that will best meet your pain points.
We also feel it is important to discuss an intended investment amount for the project. Oftentimes, a budget and scope of work are set without truly considering how they fit together. We recommend first deciding upon an investment amount for the project so that we may help tailor a building solution to best fit your needs and budget, as well as offer suggestions to stay within those amounts. It becomes difficult to offer suitable suggestions and solutions for a project without having an idea of what range a client would like to invest in the project.
With all of the information gathered up to this point, we are able to provide a ballpark estimate for the project. Please note, a ballpark estimate is just that – it is a range based on an intended scope of work. It is impossible to provide an accurate final cost analysis without first developing a set scope of work along with making material selections. If the ballpark estimate provided falls within the investment range you are comfortable with, we will then proceed to design to create a final cost for the entire project.
Step 3: Design
This is arguably one of the most crucial steps in the process, where we begin developing a space that up until now has only been expressed into words, is now visually coming to life. Careful planning, communication, and collaboration with clients throughout design ensures laying the proper foundation for a successful project.
The design process does not obligate you to hire us for the construction of the project, however is the only way for us to give an accurate cost analysis should you decide to proceed with a construction contract because we provide fixed-cost contracts. We are also able to provide final cost analysis if the client provides construction drawings with material selections already made.
The retainer for the design agreement varies depending on project type and scope of work, but typically ranges between 3-5% of the overall investment amount for the project. The purpose of this retainer is to cover expenses associated with the drawings, interior design assistance, and the final estimate process. This retainer is incorporated back into the overall project cost should you decide to proceed with the construction contract. If you choose to not follow through with construction, the retainer is nonrefundable, however you will have ownership of the drawings.
Design Phase 1: Schematic Drawings
With schematic drawings, we are able to give a very conceptual visualization of the project. This process allows a client to see a simple representation of the finished project so that we can work to find a design to best fit your needs and solve pain points. Once the client has chosen a design and layout option, we will make final tweaks, and some initial selections for finish material. This allows us to look at a more accurate final cost of the project, usually within 10%, and out of the ballpark estimate arena.
Design Phase 2: Construction Drawings
Upon approval of this more accurate final cost from Design Phase Part 1, we are now able to move toward developing a final scope of work for the project that includes 3-D renderings. This phase is more detailed and works through final material selections and a final design in order to provide a set of construction drawings. After completing any investigation holes, we will also bring subcontractors and/or trades on-site to ensure we are providing accurate final costs for the project’s entirety.
Throughout design, we will collaborate with you during scheduled on-site and office visits for product and material selections, space layout, scope of work, and view 3-D renderings and drawings. Upon approval of final design, material selections, and final cost analysis, we will then provide a fixed-price, lump sum contract of the project from start to finish. If all is approved by client, a construction contract is signed and project development begins.
Step 4: Project Development
These are the final steps to make sure everything is in order to begin construction. We will finalize details of the project scope, design, and materials. A project schedule is developed, the permit process begins, and a pre-construction meeting between our team and the client takes place to ensure everyone is on the same page, and to address any questions or concerns either party may have. Mutually setting these expectations creates the baseline for open communication during construction. Once the appropriate forms and sign-offs have been approved, we are ready to transform your space.
Step 5: Construction
We feel that communication is a very important aspect of a remodel, which is why we keep you in the loop every step of the way. There will be several check-in points where our team will meet with you to see if there are any questions or concerns, and if there are, they can be addressed immediately. We will also provide weekly client feedback forms to make sure we are meeting your expectations.
As exciting as it is, we know that living through a remodel can also be very stressful. Our job is to make it as easy on you as possible, which is why we have a process in place to allow us to do just that!
Step 6: Project Completion
Your dream space is now a reality, but our relationship doesn’t stop there! We stand behind our work 110% and are still at your service if you need us.
We will establish post-construction check-in points and you will receive a Guild Quality survey so that you may have the opportunity to provide honest feedback on your experience.
Reviews and referrals are the best compliments, and we appreciate the time it takes for our clients to provide them.
Part 1: Types of Services – Timelines and Average Price Ranges
All below timelines and pricing are based on company costs and data from historical projects. These are all purely averages, for each project varies greatly due to layout changes (if any), product and material selections, and overall scope of work.
These ranges are due to each project being entirely unique and are meant to give a rough idea of where different types of remodels generally fall if you hire our company to complete them. All below prices are lump sum, which means the cost includes every piece of the puzzle needed to complete the remodel unless otherwise noted as a contingency in the contract, or a change order requested by the client.
part 2: ballpark estimate vs. fixed-price contract (why design is so important)
A ball park estimate is just that, an educated guess provided based on information from project exploration, on-site consultation, and historical project costs. Final cost analysis, the price of the fixed-cost lump sum contract, cannot be determined until design is finished and material and product selections are made. For example, does the homeowner want a $500 sink, or a $3,000 sink? Stone countertop at $75 per square foot or $115 per square foot? Prices vary widely and wants, needs, and non-negotiable items differ homeowner to homeowner.
Most remodeling companies have preferred vendors and strategic partners with a wide array of products, virtually endless options. All of these factors take time to decide upon and are crucial factors to determine the final cost of each unique project. This is yet another reason why design shouldn’t be rushed. Catering material selections and scope of work to the investment amount agreed upon is an important variable as well. One may even decide to increase budget slightly in order to get exactly what they want and/or need.
Design-build remodeling companies provide guidance by educating and assisting clients with their decisions, but the homeowner ultimately decides and signs-off on the final product. Careful planning, coupled with honesty and integrity, leads to the most effective communication and success throughout the overall project.
part 3: tips for construction prep
1.) Temporary kitchens are always a good idea for a kitchen or whole house remodel. You can set up a grill and dining area outside in good weather, and/or have in another section of the home a microwave, electric skillet, toaster oven, etc.
2.) Make sure pets are secured in the event that doors are left open.
3.) Mark clear pathways in the home to avoid tripping hazards.
4.) Make room in driveway or street for contractor parking.
5.) Store away any valuables that could be in the way or in danger of breaking during construction
6.) Clear walls of any pictures or other hanging items in construction area.
7.) Express concerns, if any, to remodeling contractor as soon as possible.
8.) Be prepared for the disturbance. As exciting as it is to begin watching the transformation of your space, living in a construction zone can be stressful, especially on larger projects.
*All information is copyrighted in by Odell Construction Inc., a full-service design-build remodeling company in NE Ohio that specializes in kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, basement finishing and remodeling, room additions, whole house renovations, interior remodeling, and exterior renovations.