PLAN YOUR WORK, WORK YOUR PLAN
WHAT IS A GENERAL CONTRACTOR?
Buckminster Green is a full-service remodeling company with a focus on environmentally sustainable building and design. We can handle all aspects of your remodeling project from idea to completion.
Unlike a specialized contractor (a plumber or painter for instance), a general contractor (GC) oversees all onsite aspects of a construction project. Whether the general contractor's employees or subcontractors do the work, this is the person you call about everything. A good GC needs to know enough about everyone's job on a construction site to estimate and supervise the work going on. He will also handle the organizational aspects of the project that keep things running smoothly. Because we have an AKBD (Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer) with a love for interiors on staff, we are not only equipped to get the work done smoothly and properly, but also attractively. We partner with talented architects and engineers when the project demands and can bring in the right professional for your project. We are thinking about the finished product before we load in a single tool.
If you are interested in working with Buckminster Green the first step is to reach out and tell us about your project. Emailing us with details about your project is the best way to introduce yourself. From there we can see if we could be a good fit for your project and set up a visit by Kenny, our president, or Bronwyn, our designer, or both, depending on the services you require.
The next step is for us to come out to the place you want to remodel. We like to meet you in person and see the space. Though you may only have a bathroom remodel in mind, we'll look at the house as a whole and talk to you about your plans for the house. If we think an energy audit is recommended we'll let you know. If you have already had an audit done that information will be helpful.
This initial discussion about your goals and desires for the remodeled space will allow us to get back to you with a budget range within which we expect your project to fall. This range is based on similar projects we have completed in the past, and the particulars of your project. If the project is small and straightforward, we'll send you a contract with a fixed cost at this time, but most projects require some design and product selection, and we can't determine the total cost of the project until this design work is complete.
If you have already worked with an architect or designer to come up with a plan, we'll still give you a ballpark estimate at this point. The work required to put together a detailed quote is significant and will usually require several visits to the house. Our estimates are generally provided at no cost, but we will work with you to determine if we're a good fit before we complete a quote. If you do not have a plan, you can work with our designer. In this case, we will give you a design contract for these services. This contract is separate from the building contract. Our goal is to provide you with a design that satisfies your wish list and fits the budget range we've agreed upon. We aim to build the projects we design.
When the design for the project is substantially complete, we will send you a contract with a detailed scope, production schedule and payment schedule. Depending on the project, we may have asked you to provide a good faith deposit in a pre-construction services agreement. This deposit will go toward the building contract deposit and is refunded minus time spent on design and pre-construction work if we don’t reach an agreement. Once you sign the contract and pay the deposit and special order materials deposit (usually 10-25% of the contract amount) we will schedule your work and begin ordering special order materials. We will also set you up with access to Buildertrend, our cloud based construction management software. This will allow members of our team to communicate with you effectively, and years after the work is complete you will have access to a record of every conversation and selection. Before work begins, we will meet at your house with the lead carpenter and project manager for your project, as well as any subcontractors who will be working at the house. Once work begins, we work to complete the project swiftly and properly. If unexpected issues arise, we'll inform you of the situation and any decisions you need to make, but otherwise you can expect someone from Buckminster Green to be working at your house every day. We value communication between contractor and client and work hard to keep you well informed throughout the duration of your project. We generally work from 7am-5pm on weekdays. We may work on weekends under special circumstances. The specific work hours and days will be adjusted to fit your schedule.
CAN YOU HELP ME WITH THE DESIGN?
Absolutely. Our designer Bronwyn is an AKBD certified kitchen and bath planner. We can also help with built-ins, decks, space planning and selection of finishes. If the project falls outside this scope we will bring in the architect and/or engineer that best fits your project. No matter what, we will manage the design process with your budget and timeline in mind.
HOW MUCH DOES A PROJECT LIKE MINE NORMALLY COST?
After the initial site visit we can tell you the range within which we'd expect your project to fall. To get an idea before that visit, Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value report will tell you what average costs for different types of projects are in your area.
WHERE DO YOU WORK?
Most of our work falls within Philadelphia city limits but we do occasionally work in the surrounding area. Contact us to find out. The range which we can travel at a given time varies depending on what other projects we have scheduled.
ARE YOU LICENSED AND INSURED?
We are licensed and insured according to city and state standards and if the project requires it can secure a bond. Our Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor # is PA012016 and our Philadelphia contractor's license is #186207.
ARE YOU LEAD CERTIFIED?
We are an EPA lead certified firm. All contractors working in homes built prior to 1978 and disturbing more than a small amount of painted surfaces in any way must be certified.
We are also part of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, and certified Green Advantage.
CAN I BUY MY OWN MATERIALS?
We recommend that you have us purchase the materials for the job. This way you will know who to turn to if there are any issues that need to be resolved - us. We have established relationships with suppliers and our experience with various products will be an asset to you. There are exceptions to this rule. If you are interested in buying your own materials, read this article Kenny wrote for Houzz.com on the subject: How to Shop for Your Remodel.
SHOULD I LIVE IN THE HOUSE DURING CONSTRUCTION?
Know yourself. Remodeling is a dirty process, no matter how much we try to make it otherwise. If you think you can handle it, our clients often stay in the house during small projects like a spare bathroom remodel. The larger the scope of the project, the more helpful it is to move out while work is happening. Of course remodeling is expensive, and moving out just adds to the cost. If you can’t move out for the whole job, try to schedule some time away and set up a clean, comfortable place to retreat to when you can’t handle coming home to a messy and stressful construction site.
HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I SET ASIDE FOR CONTINGENCIES?
There are no hard and fast rules except to expect the unexpected. Whether demolition exposes knob and tube wiring no one knew was there, or you decide you can't live without those upgraded sconces in the bathroom, it is rare that there are no additional costs on a project. A well planned project where everything is specified ahead of time may need only 3-5% of the project cost set aside for contingencies, but for most projects we recommend keeping 5-8% available and if your project is still in the budgeting stage, 15% will usually cover variation from the original ballpark.