Frequently Asked QuestionsHave a question about our services? Scroll through the answers below.
Answers to Common Questions I Receive
Feel free to read through some of the questions and answers below. If you’re still unclear about something or don’t see your question, don’t hesitate to contact THA by email or telephone HERE.
How does the whole process work from beginning to end?
Hi, I’m Benny Rowe the owner and construction consultant for THA – here’s the general process, and how it works:
- You have made a decision that you want to do a remodeling (or new construction) project on your home or business, but might not be entirely sure of how to proceed…
- You contact THA and speak with me. I arrange a meeting and we discuss what you generally want to do – I explain my service and how it works, and we decide if I can be helpful to you. If so, I am hired.
- At this point, I get a more specific sense of what you want to accomplish and offer insights and suggestions in a very broad manner.
- I advise you on general procedure for hiring an architect/designer, and contractor, and perhaps make some personnel suggestions – I don’t necessarily recommend the professionals who eventually do your work to avoid any potential conflict of interest – but I do offer the names of people with whom I’ve worked. In fact though, I highly encourage you to find your own people, and by all means, it will ultimately be your decision.
- I meet with you and the architect to facilitate a good fit. I repeat the process with the contractor.
- In the initial phases I work with you and the architect to expedite a design and plan that is in keeping with your original vision (or amended concept), and present an objective point of view, while nonetheless acting in your best interest – I have no agenda other than yours.
- I help vet the contractor and check references.
- I look at the construction documents (including the contracts) and advise (to best of my ability – I’m not a lawyer) if everything looks standard, or if I spot any irregularities.
- I help establish a construction schedule.
- At critical points of construction I visit the site to monitor the quality of the work.
- I perform additional periodic inspections and apprise you as to overall progress.
- We hold additional scheduled and impromptu (when necessary) meetings to assess the state of the project, and make sure the progress and direction are meeting expectations, and if they are not, I assist you in determining suitable remedies.
- As the work nears completion we meet to assess the status of the work and mutually determine that the work is indeed nearing conclusion, and that the major goals have been accomplished. At this point my involvement will be substantially ended, with only finishing details (to be handled by the contractor) remaining. I am of course always available for further consultation or assistance if necessary.
Are you the “middle-man” between the contractor and the homeowner?
No. Our responsibility is to advise the owner – We have no authority over the contractor or workers, nor does THA deal directly with them, except in extraordinary circumstances.
On the other hand, if we perceive a problem, we report our concern to the owner, and the owner addresses it with the contractor, and if necessary we are of course, available to help negotiate or otherwise assist the owner in dealing with the issue.
Do you hire contractors for the homeowner or just work with the ones the homeowner has already hired?
While the owner is responsible for all hiring, we consult with and advise our clients along the way, and to some extent, we work with the contractor or other professionals the owner employs. We’re available to function in the same context with the architect or designer. THA does not supervise or give any direct orders to the builder or his/her workers, nor to the design staff, but we do advocate on our client’s behalf. Basically we are the owners’ eyes, ears, and counsel on the project.
Do you provide this service for small makeovers/renovations or just big ones?
Small projects probably don’t need this level of facilitation, but THA will be happy to advise someone if they believe they can benefit from our service. In such an instance there will most likely be a one-time consultation, in which we will offer some general advice and perhaps recommend a contractor. However, if further assistance were sought, we would most likely try to have limited additional involvement with the job (after recommending a contractor) – this is to keep the owners cost down.
Because of your previous experience as a contractor, are you able to offer clients advice about interior design, how to build, what’s the best way to build, building keeping in mind zoning laws, etc.?
- Yes, that’s a big part of my service – I’m pretty strong on design and building techniques because I spent a good deal of my career as a carpenter and woodworker doing high-end work – I know what quality is supposed to look like.
- I don’t claim to be an expert on building codes, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s permissible. Generally speaking, an architect is supposed to know the regulations, and plans have to be approved by city building code enforcement personnel anyway – but occasionally I’ll catch something they miss – nonetheless part of the architect/contractor/sub-contractor’s job is to know codes and ordinances.
Where would you come in if there were problems with the contractor?
It depends on the type of problem. With proper planning and our oversight, many potential problems can be anticipated and therefore avoided. However, unexpected issues do arise.
In the case of a dispute regarding the scope or quality – either incomplete, incorrect, or inferior work, time delays or other issues, we advocate for our clients with a goal of resolving these problems. While we have no legal jurisdiction and are unable to enforce contracts, but we will negotiate and mediate if needed.
Where outright deception is concerned, i.e. a contractor takes deposit money and performs no work, we are unfortunately unable to intervene, as the legal issue is solely between the owner and the contractor.
Vetting the contractor and checking references is crucial, and partnering with Homeowners’ Advisor from the very conception of your project is key. We help establish a level of trust between all parties, ensuring that your endeavor is as stress-free as possible. We evaluate the agreement between you and your designer and/or contractor and give considered opinion as to whether the cost projections are fair, and also that everyone involved is clear on what’s supposed to take place and when. Once the agreement is signed and the first payment is proffered, we monitor all activity for compliance through completion of the job.
When it comes to payment, do you negotiate a price with the contractors or is this something the client does?
I advise the client on whether or not I think the overall price is in line with the scope of the job – otherwise the owner negotiates the cost (this actually involves a little more than that sentence implies – there’s a fair amount of work involved on my part).
During the job, there will be a draw schedule: money paid at various, usually pre-determined reference points in the work. Part of my responsibility is to give my opinion on whether or not the amount being requested is justified.
Is there a job that's too big for you?
I mainly take on remodeling jobs (residential or commercial) that run between $10K, and $200K. My goal is to be able to complete my work (on a typical project) in about 10 hours (or less) a week – of course it will vary from job to job, and from client to client.
One requirement I have for accepting a project is that the client be involved in the process – not as a practitioner, but as an active participant. Should a client want me to ‘handle everything’, I will most likely decline the job.
Do you take on both residential and commercial projects?
I will do both residential and commercial, but I’m focusing on, and am stronger in residential. My familiarity in commercial is somewhat limited – mostly restaurants, banks, lawyers, doctors and other professional offices, hotels and other small business – not so much with department stores or institutional buildings like schools, hospitals, factories and the like.