Understanding Specifications


Understanding Specifications

Understanding specifications is vital for the homeowner. Plans show the overall scope of the project including  items like wall layout, elevations, window schedules, door schedules, and what kind of flooring (carpet, tile, wood) is being used.  The specifications go into more detail. An example might be a line item called Wood Flooring with the following information:  Armstrong 3 inch engineered hardwood plank in natural cherry, product number EPP3108. With detailed specifications there is no room for error,  you know exactly what you’re getting.

The specifications should be specific to the various rooms in a remodeling or building project like  kitchen, master bath, living room, and dining room. The individual rooms will each have a number of items listed like flooring, fixtures, cabinets, paint colors  and trim. Since understanding  specifications is so important, homeowners might request that a contractor provide specifications in  a format that is easy for them to understand.  In my opinion a specifications book that lists the rooms and includes a detailed description of items like plumbing fixtures, their individual model numbers and pictures are best. These books can be printed or provided in digital form as a PDF file. Understanding specifications will help you realize your dream.


Understanding Plans

PlansUnderstanding Plans

   Understanding plans is nothing short of knowing  the value of your remodeling project.  I think it’s fair to say that very few clients really understand the scope and complexity that plans represent. That’s why it is important for your  contractor to conduct a thorough plans review session with you before a project actually begins. The plans are also intricately connected to the specifications that accompany them. Every subcontractor who bids on a project where plans are necessary should include the line “As per Plans and Specifications” on their proposal

Understanding your plans and reading all the schedules, notes, and criteria contained on them will decrease the likelihood of unanticipated costs associated with change orders.  A complete set of plans includes a “Demolition Plan, a “Renovation Plan”, an “Electrical” Plan, a “Flooring Plan”, and a schedule of windows and doors if applicable. Other informational items about hardware, casing, baseboards, cabinets and shelving should be recorded in the plans, as well as the specifications. Taking the time to carefully review renovation plans,  will definitely save you money and headaches during the renovation process.

Understanding plans is critical to a successful, well planned project!

Evaluating Recommendation

Evaluating Recommendations

Picking a contractor is the most important decision you’ll make during your remodeling process. There are many factors to consider and none may be more important than getting recommendations and evaluating them. What do we mean by this? Every contractor can find someone who will write them a great reference. Many contractors get letters of recommendation over the years and the good ones strive to be better each time they do a project.  While these recommendations may be valid at the time they were written, letters of references for projects that are recent or even in process give you the up to date information It’s entirely possible that a recommendation for a contractor written a year ago or less might be totally irrelevant today. If you really want to know how a contra ctor is administering and pricing a project it’s best to ask someone who has the experience fresh in mind. Unfortunately some contractors tell people what they want to hear and not what they need to know, resulting in inaccurate bids, changes orders and ultimately a more expensive project. Do your homework upfront and you’ll have a much better remodeling experience and a quality, reasonably priced project.

Choosing a Design Professional

McDonaldKitchenAn effective design professional (draftsman or architect) is skillful in their trade, listens to their clients, and works to create a beautiful, functional and sustainable project  that realizes the homeowner’s  vision and works within their budget .

In my experience, choosing a contractor who works with such a professional yields a better outcome for everyone.  The contractor will make sure that the plans reflect the entire scope of the project and that the designer creates a set of plans that sub-contractors can read and understand.  When sub-contractors have a clear picture of what they’re bidding on, the price will invariably be more competitive.  This relationship also assures  the client that the design professional will be readily available in case any changes occur.

Even the smallest project has lots of variables that must be understood and addressed up front to assure the client’s satisfaction.  Homeowners are often told what they want to hear,  instead of what they need to know.  Recently we were called to complete a project when the client became alarmed with the experience level of the contractor.  If the project had been completed as drawn, the client’s vision would have not realized.

Recently I was with my cabinet company at an upscale condo on Longboat Key’s waterfront. The owner mentioned a unit that was under construction which had captured her imagination. I suggested that we visit the project. While it was an impressive design, I  noticed that the upper kitchen cabinets were only thirty (30) inches tall. We had completed a similar  project in the past year and knew that there was room for forty two (42) inch tall upper cabinets. This would have replaced much of the cabinet space that was lost when walls were removed to open the design.

Another thing I noticed was that the beautiful glass backsplash had electrical outlets and switches. However, there are now plug strips available that can be recessed in a valence under the upper cabinets. These allow the design of a beautiful glass or other tile backsplash to be uninterrupted by plugs and switches.

These are just a few of the small, but significant design touches that clients receive when they work with an experienced contractor and a skilled design professional.


Icynene Insulation








Residential icynene spray foam insulation offers homeowners  an array of immediate and long-term benefits. Residential spray foam lets you overcome a number of construction challenges including sealing the entire building envelope, and achieving heating and cooling cost savings of up to 50%. That’s big for Florida homes where keeping a space conditioned in the summer is a challenge.

In addition icynene protects against allergens and pollutants that can enter a home’s building envelope which helps to improve air quality. Icynene helps with moisture management, and can fill in any shaped void. It  also has sound suppression qualities both from exterior sources and sounds originating from within the walls, such as plumbing.

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