Thursday, January 8, 2015

Simple, Modern Kitchen

Alex Kucharski of RGI works with designer Cameron MacNeil to transform style editor Stacey Smithers' dated space into a bright, modern kitchen complete with floating upper shelves, waterfall countertops, Shaker-style lower cabinets and a stainless steel island.

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Requesting and Evaluating Quotes

It’s important to be thorough as possible when requesting bids. Based on our experience, we know that the whole process go best when owners take the time to write a formal Request for Proposal (RFP). And it’s just as beneficial to have a complete set of blueprints to accompany your RFP!
This extra effort assures that all bidders base their submissions and costs on the same set of expectations – something that helps just as much in the bid evaluation phase, as it will when it comes to managing and enforcing your project’s deliverables.
Even if you prefer a more informal process, one completed in collaboration with your existing contractor, it’s highly recommended that you not begin work without complete construction drawings and a document that summarizes all deliverables as well as everyone’s responsibilities.
Your project documentation should contain specific expense headings for: cost of materials, labour costs, and full detail on other expenses such as permit filing costs, inspection reports, insurance, as well as costs for the work being done by third parties. Make sure the agreed start/end dates are clearly identified, along with detail on any performance incentives or penalties.
Like the majority of qualified contractors, RGI looks for payment terms that specify a 10% down payment, followed by three payments of 25% at regular intervals, with the final 15% being payable at the conclusion of the job. If someone asks you for half upfront, this is definitely a sign of trouble!
Always be wary of low-ball offers – which suggest a contractor in financial trouble or one not experienced enough to think through and anticipate the work your project entails. Always try to determine whether a higher cost is justified. It often reflects a better and more responsible approach to your work!
In the end it gets down to what you can afford and how comfortable you are in the communication between you and your contractor!

Elements of a Successful Design/Build Relationship

Whether you’re a home-owner, designer or architect – choosing the right contractor is the most vital decision in managing the success of your next renovation or construction project. That’s because your contractor turns your vision and plan into a physical reality! Here’s how we see things at RGI.
We know your contractor’s hands-on perspective is invaluable – use it as early as possible as you jiggle-in your design and scope of work. Experience has shown us that this is the best way to assure optimum design decisions that maximize the unique opportunities and potential of each new site.
At RGI, we look for the practical constraints inherent to every base-building structure that can contribute to site problems and cost over-runs once construction begins. We’ll help you anticipate and solve most of these problems in advance, leveraging a team approach to assure the best economics.
Similarly, our hands-on experience of construction methods and materials can answer a host of questions that are critical to your ultimate satisfaction: ranging from construction sequencing, materials selection, and labour costs. And these are just the broad headings!
As contractor, our goal is to draw upon the knowledge of the owner, design team, and sub-trades. Maintaining this synergy demands open and continuous communication throughout the design/build effort. Every member of the team – particularly ourselves - need to be willing to consider all options.
Success demands compromise and cooperation. It also requires decisive and responsive decision-making by all parties. Our role in keeping your project on a fast-track includes daily updates between project participants – so that every action and decision supports your project plan.
When everyone stays informed and knows the goals and objectives, all parties can hit the ground running! 

How to Select a Contractor

There’s lots of contractors and lots of ways to find them, however most people begin by asking their friends for recommendations. But as important as a good reference is, there’s even more important questions that should be answered before making your selection.
Do your candidate contractors belong to trade associations? How solid are their relationships with local building inspectors, and do they have a reputation for buying quality materials and paying their bills on time at local building supply companies and lumberyards?
Depending on the size of your job, it is best not to leave any of these questions unanswered. Take the time to call around to satisfy yourself that the business practices and skills of your prospective contractor are up to your standards. And don’t minimize the importance of the following questions!
Ask for and expect to be given a list of satisfied customers you can contact. Call them to make sure their experience was as good as you’ve been told. Find out how many jobs your candidates will be juggling while on your worksite, and who the sub-trades are that they intend to work with.
Once you’ve found at least two good suppliers to ask for quotes, go through all of your plans in detail, outlining the full extent of your expectations and needs. And most importantly, remember your reactions and comfort level with each contractor once you’re reviewing their bids.
A good supplier will give you a proposal that reflects the issues and opportunities raised during these early conversations. Be wary if the quotes you receive don’t address to the issues raised, and remember, price is only one dimension of a successful job.
Most importantly – remember to listen to your gut instincts at every point in the process!