Frequently Asked Questions
Start by reading this entire FAQ page. If you understand everything on this page, it will help you ask the right questions. From buying the right property, hiring an Architect or a General Contractor – knowing everything on the page will help streamline that process.
Assuming you are ready to start the design/build process, you will need to get a boundary, tree and elevation survey, and then schedule a soil test (we can help with both). This information must be provided to your Architect of choice (We can recommend some to you).
The survey lets the Architect know exactly what you have. For new home builds in Ft. Lauderdale, the min finish floor elevation needs to be 1’ higher than FEMA’s requirements. All other cities require us to just be at FEMA’s min requirements. If the land is very low, we will need to raise the building pad to comply with FEMA (5’ to 6’ NAVD) and Ft. Lauderdale add 1’, (6’ to 7’ NAVD) flood plain requirements. All new construction, including additions to existing homes, must comply with this FEMA and City regulations.
The soil test will let the Architect and Engineers know what kind of foundation system and Civil Drainage system to design.
It will vary greatly from project to project. A high end single family home like we build can cost from $250 to $350 per square foot for the living area and approximately, $175 to $250 for the non living areas. These numbers, however, can be higher depending on design, land conditions, and customer choices. Then add for the site work like the pool $35,000 to $100,000, paving and decking $20,000 to $100,000, landscaping $20,000 to $100,000, perimeter fencing/walls $5,000 to $60,000, civil drainage $6,000 to $30,000, seawall and dock $20,000 to $100,000. Construction costs are higher in hurricane zones, but a newly built house or a totally renovated house will give you much comfort when the next hurricane threatens.
This also varies from project to project; but roughly 12 to 16 months of construction for a new home. This varies depending on the size and complexity of the house. The Architect can take about 3 to 4 months to get a full set of Architectural and Engineering drawings completed. Once these are signed and sealed, we would submit those to the applicable building department. Plan review takes between 3 to 4 months. This can also vary greatly depending on the complexity, or accuracy of the plans submitted. We like to submit for a Foundation Permit also. This takes about 2 months to receive. This normally allows us to start pilings, foundations, underground plumbing and slab a couple months ahead of the Master Permit being issued. There are Dock and Pool permits that would also need to be submitted at the same time, but these items do not normally affect the critical path.
Renovations will vary depending on the extent of work needing to be done. Extensive entire house renovations and/or additions should take around 10 to 12 months to complete. This will also vary depending on customer finish choices and selections.
Paterson Project Management will provide you with a very detailed online schedule that we follow. You will be able to interact with our schedule and staff online and know exactly what’s going on at all times.
It is best if you have both so that they may coordinate and work together to design your perfect house for the correct price. However, an architect would be the first step. We can refer you to one, if needed, and help walk you through this process very easily.
Paterson Project Management doesn’t get paid until we start actual construction. But as a free service, we will help you from the beginning. We can set you up with Architects and Engineers and be with you at all meetings to discuss the design of your house. We will help you facilitate everything needed right from the moment you think you want to build a new home. After your plans are completed we can give you an accurate, very detailed proposal to build. Only if we actually win the bid, do we start to get paid. All the effort we put in to your project before that point is free. We understand this is a daunting task, so we try make it easy and pleasurable for you. We also understand that after we present our bid and compete against other bidders, that we may not win the job. However, this time gives you many months to get to know who we are and how we work before you are made to enter into any long term construction contract.
Plans and permits are the responsibility of the Architect and Homeowner. However, PPM offers permit running and plan revision services to make it as convenient as possible for our clients. We maintain a staff of in-house permit and plan runners who are familiar with this very detailed process.
Most of the time renovation and doing additions is the quicker and cheaper route. Obviously, this can vary from project to project. It also depends on what you are looking for in the end result.
However, some points to think about are what age is your home? What is the elevation of the finish floor? Are you ready for sea level rise that is already affecting our lower lying communities? If you spend too much money on a large renovation, are you going to price your house out of the market?
We are finding that it is easier and better to demolish smaller, older homes and build new. Your real-estate value will be much higher than if you simply renovated an old home and did additions. After doing this analysis with clients, 90% of the time we are ending up demolishing the home and building new. Your insurance rates will also drop dramatically on a new home built to all today’s current building, zoning and FEMA regulations.
The architect will determine how much the house must be brought up to code. Generally, if you are renovating up to 25% of the value of your house (not including land) a small amount of code updates are called for. If you are renovating between 25% to 50%, a few more will be needed. More than 50% will require the entire house to be brought up to code as best as possible. This will all be noted on the plans from the architect and if the city requires more updating, they will point it out to us during the City Plan Review process. We do always recommend upgrading your exterior windows and doors to be Hurricane Impact products as the first step.
This fact is what is forcing allot of homeowners to demolish and build new homes. Our new building, zoning and FEMA regulations have changed so much and are so strict today that it very often does not make sense to renovate older, smaller homes.
We can usually start projects pretty quickly, but we find that most of our customers are not ready for us to start upon accepting our bids. We generally wait on the architects plans or city approvals longer than anything else. The quicker we get brought on board your project, the sooner we can start facilitating the many moving pieces.
Hire a competent Architect! This is the most important person in this process. The Architect cost is a very small fraction of the overall cost of this process, but they have the ability to affect the overall cost the most. More than the builder actually. The Architect oversees and is responsible for his Draftsman, Structural Engineer, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical and Gas Engineer, Civil Engineer, and Landscape, Irrigation and Lighting Designer. Once the Architect has designed your dream home, he has to make sure that he hire’s competent consultants as listed, to ensure a good complete design. The General Contractor has to bid and build per these designs. So the better these plans are, the better your final product will be.
A Structural Engineer once said something to me that resonates, “It’s easy to design the biggest, strongest and most expensive design possible. What makes my job difficult is to come up with the right design, with the correct strength, that costs the correct amount to build. That takes careful consideration and calculations.” My point is that too often clients try to save a few thousand dollars on an Architect and their Engineers, but end up costing tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands more on the final product because of this. Get references from a builder who has worked with plans from the Architect before hiring them. The builders are the ones who have to make these plans a reality, so they will be in the best position to give references.
Once you have a good set of plans, everything else is easy.