Pros And Cons Of Building A Rambler

You have many styles of homes to choose from when building your own home. One of the most famous styles is the rambler. A rambler home is all on one floor. This style became very popular after world war two when the soldiers were returning home and housing became more affordable. The ranch home has been around for years, but it is still very useful and will remain for years to come.

The ranch style home has many advantages and several disadvantages. You will want to understand these before you decide to build a ranch style home.

The ranch house takes up more of the lot space than a two story home for the same size home. This means that you will have less yard. Many people find this to be a disadvantage while others actually consider it an advantage. It depends on how you look at a reduced yard size. If you don’t like yard work and playing outside, then a smaller yard is an advantage. If you do like working outdoors, then it may be seen as a disadvantage. Most neighborhoods come with parks and schools close by so a sizeable yard is not needed for recreation purposes.

Another advantage of a rambler is the lack of stairs. You may not consider that an advantage now, but what if your ailing mother came to stay with you or you had a new baby. These people have trouble with stairs and it may be to your advantage to have all of the room on the same floor.

Also, a ramble is normally a rectangular or L-shape. This means most places are in close proximity. Getting around quickly is much easier in a rambler. If you want to stay away from the children for a few hours, you may consider this a disadvantage.

Another advantage of the rambler style home is that the rooms tend to be bigger and the floor plan is very airy. With the kitchen, dining room, family room and bonus room all on the same floor it can create larger rooms that join into other rooms. Some people enjoy this type of floor plan because it is easier to get more people into the house for parties and entertaining.

The rambler also is cheaper to build in some circumstances. As you add floors to a building you also increase the complexity and design problems. The basic rambler is very simple in design and so special materials and engineering is not needed. This allows the home to be built faster and cheaper.

This also means that maintenance is cheaper. If you have tried to wash the outside window on the second floor you will understand. Hanging siding is cheaper on a rambler and most other maintenance activities. You won’t have to own a super tall ladder for hanging Christmas lights if you only live in a one story rambler home.

Heating and cooling costs tend to be cheaper compared to other homes. You can insulate the entire roof and the air is kept on one floor. Two story homes often have multiple units to service the different floors. Heat will rise and you will have to be constantly trying to cool the upper floors or heat the bottom floor. Maintaining a single insulated floor is much easier and cheaper.

In summary, many people consider the rambler to be boring in design. Others think that it doesn’t look as nice as other homes. You will have to decide what fits you and your needs best. The rambler can have cost benefits and detractors. However, it has been very useful for years and will continue to be used for years to come.

Elastomeric Fascia Board Paint Problems – Building Tips

I couldn’t believe it about 10 or 15 years ago they came out with another fabulous product that created problems for my home. Elastomeric paint is so good, that it can create problems because it seals what ever you paint with a rubber like coating. I wasn’t the only one to have problems with this product.

I built a two-story room addition onto our home and used this type of paint without any problems at all. I painted the fascia board before I installed it with a oil based alkaloid primer and then painted it with elastomeric paint. By painting the entire piece of wood, before installing it, I had sealed it correctly. This worked out in my favor and this is the only way that I installed new fascia board today.

It wasn’t until I painted the rest of the home with elastomeric paint that I started to have a problem. When I built the room addition, I installed the metal flashing and roofing materials properly, that wasn’t the case on the existing roof of our home, at the single-story level.

I didn’t realize it yet, but while I was painting the fascia board, the roof edge metal wasn’t installed properly in a couple of spots around the bottom of the roof. Which is where most of the water drains off of the roof, because the roof edge metal wasn’t installed properly and the top of the fascia board wasn’t painted at all. The top of the fascia board started to absorb water as it dripped off of the roof.

The elastomeric paint did an excellent job keeping the moisture inside of the wood, where some latex paints would have allowed the moisture to escape through it. Eventually the fascia board rotted away and needed to be replaced.

I never had any problems with the second-story fascia board that was installed and painted correctly. If you’re really looking for an excellent paint for your fascia board, you can use elastomeric paint if you want to. I doubt if I will ever use this type of paint again, because of the problems I had with it in the past.

I know some painting professionals who won’t use anything but elastomeric paint, but this stuff is truly too good of a painting product and I’ve seen other problems with it also. Most of the problems associated with this paint are due to incorrect application of the paint or poor construction methods from other contractors.

Elastomeric paint is truly a wonderful product, but it’s almost too good to use unless the home is built correctly in the paint is applied over the entire surface of the product with out leaving any small holes or cracks exposed.

An Esthetician’s Guide to Building Client Retention

As an Esthetician, your clientele comprises 100% of your income. You survive on appointments and product sales alone. Therefore, aside from your vast and comprehensive knowledge of skincare, product ingredients, application techniques and a million other things, your business acumen must be in tip-top shape! When it comes to service based businesses, client retention is the name of the game. Time is money and money means keeping those books booked! Once you get a client, it is your number one priority to bring them back time and time again. Considering that you have already done the footwork of getting a client into your treatment room for the first time, let us explore a few ways to ensure they’ll be back time and time again!

Service Quality

Yes, you retail skincare products – but your service is also a product that you sell! Your client is purchasing your time, your attention, and your expertise in the industry. Your service is your signature! Don’t be cookie-cutter here. Don’t cut corners or go through the motions. Be attentive, educative, and give your all! In addition, there is a transactional element in which you are trading your service for a dollar amount. For this reason, you must always make sure that, to the client, your service is not only equivalent to what they are paying, but that they are getting a little extra above and beyond that. A few tips to ensure a quality service experience:

– No, you are not a massage therapist. But people love massage!! Go overboard!

– Be sure that your menu descriptions are precise to create an accurate expectation.

– Choose your product line carefully.

– Make your space is clean and inviting, pay attention to lighting, don’t over-decorate, choose your music accordingly.

– Your energy dictates your space. Clear your life of its chaos as part of what you offer your clients.

– Actively help to solve skin issues through education – results will speak for themselves.

Trust

Let’s be honest though, clients can purchase a “service” anywhere. If they are going to be a return client, what they are truly purchasing is time with you. A client relationship is similar to any other relationship in that it requires trust and reciprocity. For a client, you are someone they see, on average, once a month. Be a part of their life experience by keeping up with them! Even for the client that is just going to fall asleep after the first few minutes, use those first few minutes to ask not just about their skin, but about their son Jack, their finals at school, their new dog, anything that is of utmost priority to them. You can use your skin analysis to break the ice. For example, your client mentions their skin is feeling dehydrated due to travelling a lot for work. Your next question should be about the travel, not the skin! You’re going to rehydrate them, that is a given. This is your chance to create relationship! Don’t miss this! This process of checking in will do two things. It will show that you truly care about them and their life. It will also allow them to get anything major off their chest so that they can relax. When you create that level of intimacy, it makes your service more personally significant to that client. If you have a large clientele and are as forgetful as me, use your software to keep very detailed notes in your clients’ profile. This will keep you on track! I would advise you, though, to be very cautious of boundaries. READ: Do not dig into people’s personal lives. Your job is to simply be a blank canvas for them to paint the picture they would like you to see. If you judge them in any way I can guarantee you will never see that client again! If you continue to be your client’s biggest cheerleader, you will have them for life. Celebrate their accomplishments, validate their challenges, and encourage their endeavors. And you thought you were just going to be giving people facials?!

Booking

Another way to ensure return clients is through your booking process. Offer a discount on a package. A 5-pack of facials guarantees they will be back 5 times! And a side benefit is the next four visits, they will probably buy more product, since their service has already been “paid for”. You can also develop a system of customization within your booking operation. For clients with a very regimented schedule, offer a standing appointment (i.e. the 1st Saturday of every month or 11am every other Thursday) that they can cancel as needed. This is a very fuss-free option for people that know they are coming regularly. For clients with an unpredictable schedule, offer to text them your day-of openings on Saturdays. Offer a courtesy reminder the day before scheduled appointments, and ask if they prefer text, email, voicemail, or no reminder. This will integrate YOU into THEIR life.

Customization

Involve yourself in what they are involved in. For example, a client comes in for a facial and mentions they are planning a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. Why not mention that you do lash tints and waxing? Also be sure to give them lots of samples to take with them because they are so small and “travel-friendly”. Will they need to bring any gifts? Because you have plenty of products and gift cards available. Book their next appointment now, because you can’t wait to see their pictures when they get back! You aren’t selling them anything – you are filling in the blanks for them! Now they will be beach AND holiday-ready, and you saved room in their suitcase for other things. And surely you have warned about the strong sun in the tropics and ensured they have plenty of broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen for them and their family! Your company has now become a solution to their problems. And you now have a client for life!

Conflict Resolution

Finally, if something goes wrong, use the conflict for good instead of evil. A client doesn’t like a product they purchased from you. Don’t just return it. Talk to them about it – what didn’t they like and why? Is there something to be learned from what they are saying? Validate their frustration, and try to find a new solution with them. If you run late with one client and become late for the next, throw in a peel or give them a card for a free brow wax with their next facial. Conflict is not the end of the world, but it can become the end of a client if you don’t face it up front and work through it with them. Usually if you handle a conflict with someone well, they will become your best client because they respect how you dealt with the situation!

Building a client base takes time and commitment, but the short cut is in not losing anyone! With these simple techniques, you can continue to build. Your clients will refer you to their friends and families, and your success will follow.

How to Estimate the Cost of Building a New Home

This will serve as a help guide by providing some tips and techniques for estimating the cost of building a new home. As an expert residential estimator there are many things to consider before you begin estimating.

Construction estimating can be difficult and it does require a high level of accuracy and detail. It also requires good math skills and a little geometry knowledge. It requires the ability to read and understand construction drawings and details and how they are applied. Basic construction knowledge helps and being familiar with the local building codes.

You may want to enroll in a construction estimating course at the local college or technical school. Another option is to purchase an estimating manual from your local bookstore or go to estimating.org which offers online courses and has a bookstore.

One of the rules that I have learned along the way is the old saying, “measure twice cut once.” Whenever I do a takeoff or an estimate I always follow this rule in order to help minimize mistakes.

What will you need to put an estimate together?

You will need a notepad, a calculator, an architectural scale, and an engineering scale. These are the basic tools you need to put an estimate together.

Architectural & Structural Drawings

Now you are ready to open the plans and begin to review them. The easiest thing to do is look them over and get a feel for the basic building concept. You should get familiar with the information that is contained on each sheet.

Most construction projects have a set of architectural drawings and a set of structural drawings. I will explain the difference between the two.

It is important that the plans are to scale and have all the required details and wall sections needed to properly estimate from.

What is typically included in a complete set of architectural plans? The drawings at a minimum need to contain the following sheets: a title/cover sheet, a site plan, a floor plan, a foundation plan, four elevations, a roof plan, an electrical plan, a sheet with a typical wall section, a sheet with the window and door schedules, and a sheet with the necessary building and architectural details.

The structural drawings are drawn by a structural engineer, not the architect, unless the architectural firm has an in-house engineer. Any interior shear wall or bearing wall is detailed on these drawings.

The engineer calculates all the uplift and bearing loads of the roof trusses on all the interior and exterior. After doing the calculations they determine which walls are shear or bearing or both and what is required to properly support those uplift and or bearing loads. The engineer will put a structural note on any wall that is bearing or shear. The note will indicate the sheet number and detail number illustrating how that wall needs to be built.

A load bearing wall for example could have a thickened concrete footer with two pieces of steel and the wall above it may need to be framed out of southern yellow pine versus spruce with special metal hardware. These should be highlighted on the plan so they will not be overlooked. Sometimes the hardware called out by the engineer is a special order and can take several weeks to get. So if you wait until the framing package needs to ordered and there are a two or three shear walls with special order hardware it could delay the construction.

You need to make enough copies of the architectural and structural plans for multiple subcontractors and suppliers bidding the job. To save you money, ask your architect and engineer to convert the drawing files to a PDF file. This will save you time as well and make it convenient because you can email them to as many subcontractors and vendors as you like.

Specifications

A list of product specifications must be provided so all the subcontractor and vendors are bidding apples to apples. This is a list detailing all the products and finishes you want in your new home. It does not make sense to send the plans out to bid without a set of specifications. Without this, the bids you receive will not be apples to apples. Then you will need to have them all rebid the project. It wastes a lot of time and creates a lot of unnecessary work for the subcontractors. Remember these guys do not need practice bidding and some of them may not submit a bid without a set of specifications included. Therefore, everything from paint colors to the floor finishes need to be selected. They need to be listed on the plan or on a separate document.

Doing the Takeoffs

It is too technical to put in a written guide how to quantify the concrete, masonry, lumber, and shingles just to name a few. For example let’s assume you need to quantify the masonry block on a single story block home. You have to know how the wall is assembled which includes the ability to visualize and understand construction methods. If the exterior walls have multiple heights, a regular block (8x8x16) needs to be added and a lintel block needs to be deducted in each location where the plate heights change. If some of the walls are on a 45 degree angle you need to be able to know whether to estimate an angle block or butterfly block. The door and window openings need a certain quantity of regular blocks deducted plus a half block every other course on each side of each opening. You could have too much of one size block and either not enough or some units not accounted for at all. These inaccuracies will throw off your budget and cost you time and money. This ability and knowledge can not come from a book but through hands on experience combined with years of estimating experience.

If you decide to quantify the materials yourself I suggest you refer to Walker’s Building Estimator’s Reference Book, frankrwalker.com which has instructions on how to estimate the quantities of concrete, masonry, lumber, drywall, etc. It is considered the bible for construction estimators and it is one of required books included in the study guide for most state contractor’s exam. Just keep in mind that these reference books do not have tips and tricks as well as real world experience as explained above.

You can employ the help of your subcontractors bidding the work or your suppliers. You may pay more for their product or service or you can hire us. Either way you are paying for someone to review the plans and quantify what is needed to build the project.

If you have your lumber yard quantify the material remember he is trying to win the job so he may provide a takeoff that is too tight. This does not benefit you if you have to keep reordering more lumber. The obvious answer to this is to have your framer put together the lumber list for you. Well that does not work either because he will over order so he does not run out of material and have to make additional trips to finish. They want to finish as fast as possible so it can get inspected and they can get paid. The bottom line is neither are working in your best interest.

I recommend you do not attempt to quantify the materials yourself. I have outlined valid reasons why. It is very technical and requires someone with years of estimating experience combined with hands on field experience.

Soliciting Bids

This part of preparing an estimate can be done by most anyone. I suggest you contact your local builder’s association to get subcontractor referrals or use Angie’s List, angieslist.com which prescreens contractors as well

You may have heard the term RFQ – Request for Quote. You want to solicit at least contractors. Most people will say three bids, so why do I recommend five bids? Let’s say you contact five contractors and all five contractors bid the project. You got to figure one will be the high bid and one will be the low bid. So those should be set to the side because chances are the low bid is probably missing something and the high bid is priced too high. The remaining three bids should be reviewed thoroughly to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

When you contact all the subcontractors that you want to bid your project be sure to give them a bid due date. That way you do not have to chase them. Give them a reasonable amount of time to review the plans and specifications, typically a week or two.

Analyzing the Bids

First organize all your bids by trade, such as putting all your electrical bids together. A three ring binder with dividers and tabbed with each category is a good way to organize all the bids.

Once you receive the bids you need to read them carefully and review them against the plans and specifications. They should have the project information and the date. They need to be detailed and itemized. The cabinet bid should not say “cabinets”. Instead it should list and quantify all the cabinets by finish, style, size, and location, example 15 lnft of 42″ oak raised panel kitchen cabinets, 1/ea 60″ melamine master bath cabinet, 1/ea 36″ melamine hall bath cabinet, etc. If it does not include the countertops it should state that so there is no misrepresentation.

When a proposal needs to be revised, make sure it states the revision date or states “revised”. That way when you compile the bids and you need to refer back to them you will be looking at the latest one.

The proposals should also indicate workmanship and warranty. All this is important, especially if the contractor does not perform and mediation or worse litigation is required.

How to Negotiate the Best Price

Once you determine the three competitive bids the hard part is negotiating with the contractors. You have to assume that all the quotes will be inflated with the understanding you will negotiate less. Therefore, you need to get them down as low as you can to the real number. I always ask my subcontractors and vendors if the bid is negotiable. Remember it never hurts to ask, the worse they can say is no. And if they say yes, then I ask them what is the maximum they can cut their bid. They normally respond with, “how much do I need to cut it to get the job” and again I put it back on them by saying, “the maximum you can cut your price”. Never name a price first! You should already have a budget of what you can afford to spend on each item. You never know whether or not they would be willing to do it for less than that.

Once they lower their bids and you determine the low bidder you need to compare warranty, workmanship, and references. Price is important, but if they can not finish the job the price does not mean anything. You definitely need to check both project references and credit references. The bottom line is you want the best contractor for the least amount of money.

Preparing an Estimate

Once you have awarded the job to each subcontractor you will want to prepare an estimate. I recommend using Microsoft Excel to organize your estimate. It is the easiest and mostly widely used spreadsheet application, especially in construction.

It helps organize your estimate. You can use a separate worksheet for each trade within the Excel workbook. You can enter all the material lists and bid amounts you receive. You can track the job to make sure you are on budget. You can email your local suppliers your material lists so they can enter their unit prices and they can email it back to you.

One of the sheets needs to be the estimate summary which has the total cost for each phase or trade. It should include your preconstruction costs and direct construction costs.

It should have the estimate total at the bottom.

There are endless possibilities you can do with Excel and the level of detail is up to you.

We have for sale blank estimates that are in Excel. These are templates that we use which can help you calculate some of the material quantities and can also be used to prepare your estimate. They contain prebuilt formulas for calculating concrete, steel, masonry, and lumber. All you need to do is enter counts and lengths where indicated and the quantities are calculated for you. Contact us to send you a sample template.

Conclusion

I hope this has provided you will some good information on how to prepare an estimate if you are building a new home. We are available to answer any questions you may have. We can help you put together an estimate for any type of construction project, big or small, residential or commercial.