What are building allowances for new construction?

For new developments, builders may choose to include allowances in construction contracts. Allowances help to establish clear expectations about costs, as they allocate funds to particular areas throughout the construction process.

If your builder offers allowances, it enables you the right to provide a product or service. This cost is deducted from the total amount you owe the contractor. For example, if the price of the home is $400,000, and the builder gives you a $20,000 allowance for flooring, the amount paid to the builder is lowered to $380,000.

Providing allowances gives future residents flexibility to customize their home and contractors clear guidelines from which to move forward. Some of the usual allowances in residential construction include:

  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Cabinetry
  • Light fixtures
  • Door hardware

In addition to providing customization for new construction, allowances can help you stay on budget. Each allowance is its own budget, helping you pick finishes you want while staying true to your maximum overall cost.

By working with tenants or owners throughout the process of the build, builders provide information about allowance options, as well as the pros and cons of choice for cabinetry, flooring, countertops, or any other selections that may be available. Also, if you go above the mini-budget in one area of the house or condominium, you can get back on track by cutting back somewhere else.  

If you know you want to be involved in choosing finishes for a new home, start working with the builder or general contractor as soon as possible. This will allow you to learn about the options you have, review the allowance for each, and make decisions without feeling rushed. If a build is almost complete, the general contractor will have to begin making choices so the job is not delayed, which would cost time and money.

Types of Signage for Commercial Leases

Having your business logo on the building you work in makes good sense. It allows clients or patients to quickly find you and is a form of advertisement. This is especially true if your building can be seen from a highway or busy intersection.

If you own the building, you are free to put your company logo where you want it. But if you lease commercial space, signage needs to be discussed with your landlord before you sign a lease. Determine what type of signage is offered to you as a tenant. Don’t assume you will get the same type of signage as other tenants, because it often depends on the space available.

Types of signage

There are several types of signage that you may be able to get if you are in a commercial building with other tenants. The size, type, and location of signage rights should all be clarified in your lease.

  • Building signage. When available, landlords will offer signage right on the building. If you are in a strip mall type of building, stores and business will usually be able to get their signage on the building or front entrance. In a commercial space in a multi-level building, this becomes harder to accomplish. As a sole tenant or main tenant occupying multiple floors in one building, you may have exclusive building signage rights, meaning your logo would be the only one displayed directly on the building.
  • Monument signage. Commercial buildings often have a monument near the road entrance to display the tenants. Monument space is limited to a certain number of slots, so there is no guarantee that your company’s logo will be placed there if it is not in the lease. In addition to whether or not your logo will be on the monument, you should also address where on the monument your logo will be displayed and the size of the signage, as some monuments offer different proportions.
  • Directory or Suite. If your commercial building has a lobby, find out what type of signage is there to guide people to the correct office space. A directory or suite signage will give company names as well as suite numbers. Find out if this signage is all the same font, or if your actual logo can be used here.
  • Door signage. Once people get to your suite, signage at the door or on the wall next to your door will let them know they are in the right spot. Your lease should explain the size and location of signage at your office space.

Signage directs clients to you. Make sure you consider all the types of signage you want when you move into a new space.

Benefits of Glass Walls in Offices

Open office spaces were highly sought after a few years ago. Now, many offices want to blend the open office feel with some space for privacy or sound barriers. While nobody wants to go back to working in a cubicle, many people felt distracted in a completely open office.  

What is the compromise? Companies want their employees to be able to work efficiently and effectively – with time for collaboration and space to focus. To meet all of these needs, many offices are incorporating glass walls or partitions.

Glass walls can create private meeting areas, conference rooms, or a partition while still appearing open and inviting. This allows for collaboration while still allowing for private conference or phone call areas.

We have incorporated glass in many of our client’s offices at 350 Goose Lane Office Park. A doctor’s office has the traditional sliding glass to separate the waiting area from the receptionist office. Another space has a podcast room with a glass wall and door so others can see in while shows are being recorded. We have also built small offices and conference rooms with glass walls.

The benefits of using glass walls or partitions in office spaces include:

  • Communication. The glass allows for an open feel in an office space. People can see when you are available to collaborate and are more apt to ask a question or share a thought when others are visible.
  • Privacy. The flip side of collaboration is privacy – most offices have workers who need both. Glass offices or conference rooms allow for some privacy. By adding in curtains or blinds, these spaces feel even more private when needed. Another option is frosting the glass, so it is not as easy to see into a room.

  • Light. By replacing traditional walls with glass walls, light is able to stream through the entire office. Natural light is beneficial in improving mood and focus.

Many people wonder about how sound travels when using glass to separate spaces. There are types of glass that are more soundproof than others. You will also want to consider the ceiling. An open, industrial style ceiling will enable sound to travel and echo more, while a drop-down ceiling with soundproof ceiling tiles will help to keep sound in.

When deciding what type of layout you want in your office, speak with your contractor about what can be done, so your office is functional for your needs.

What are HOA fees?

When looking for a condo, townhome, or a property in a planned or gated community, be sure to take a look at the Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. HOA fees are included for all common areas of the property. Since there are multiple residents in the same complex, all are required to join the HOA and help cover the costs of common areas.

Monthly Expenses

HOA fees cover monthly expenses for upkeep and maintenance of the property and common areas. This can include landscaping, pool area, fitness room, parking lots, and hallways. In addition, utilities and insurance for these common areas are covered through HOA fees.

Reserve Fund

Along with covering monthly maintenance costs, part of the fee goes into a reserve fund. This fund can be used for larger, planned expenses, such as plumbing or a new roof for a building. Reserve funds may also be used for emergency situations, like the expenses that occur from a natural disaster.

Are HOA fees worth it?

That can depend on what you are looking for. The amenities that come with complex living can be unbeatable, especially when you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day maintenance or the stress when an unexpected cost arises.  Generally speaking, the more upscale a complex and its amenities, the higher the HOA fees are. The cost of fees can also depend on where you live. For example, living in humid, subtropical Florida can raise the HOA fees for the price of landscaping alone. Always be sure to find out what the fees are and exactly what they cover before making a decision to purchase a condo or townhome

What type of insulation do I need?

Insulation is needed in homes for many reasons: cost and energy savings, comfort, and even noise reduction. Depending on the climate where you live, the amount or type of insulation you need varies.

Insulation materials slow the flow of heat. In winter, it will slow the flow of heat from inside the home moving out, and in summer it slows the flow of heat from the outside in. The better insulation you have, the slower that flow will be, saving you on heating and cooling costs.

Insulation R-values refers to how much insulating power you need or have in your home. The higher the R-value, the more heat the material resists. The R-value is determined by the type of material used, the density, and the thickness.

The map and table below, from Insulation Institute, shows the insulation R-value needed based on location in the United States.

Zone Attic Wall Cavity Floor
1 R30 to R49 R13 to R15 R13
2 R30 to R60 R13 to R15 R13 to R25
3 R30 to R60 R13 to R15 R25
4 R38 to R60 R13 to R15 R25 to R30
5 R38 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
6 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
7 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30
8 R49 to R60 R13 to R21 R25 to R30

 

“This map shows thermal recommended levels of insulation for various climate zones, based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The IECC is the model building code for the United States.” (insulationinstitute.org)

When building or renovating, consult with your contractor to determine what type of insulation is best for your home and location.

Benefits of Garbage Chutes

If you live or work in a building with multiple levels, it is neither convenient nor sanitary to go down the stairs or elevator carrying a bag of trash. Garbage chutes in these buildings go far beyond convenience – they are beneficial to all involved.

With garbage chutes, residents only need to walk a few steps to their floor’s chute drop off. Garbage goes down the chute, or large tube, to a central location in a building. Typically, the garbage chute has an entrance and is covered with a door for safety.  Residents do not need to worry about taking out the garbage for a certain day or time, and do not need to lug garbage bags to a dumpster.

Building management also benefits from garbage chutes. The Residences at 66 High Street have garbage chutes in the multi-level buildings The Whitfield, The Leete, and The Chittenden. This means management does not need to go around the entire building collecting garbage – it is all in one centralized location. In addition, the garbage collector only needs to go to one place to collect trash each week.

Garbage chutes may seem like a small convenience that can be overlooked when designing a building, but the benefits make it a must-have in commercial and residential buildings with multiple floors.

Countertops: Granite vs. Quartz

In addition to appearance, there are several factors to consider when choosing a material for your countertop. A handful of materials can be used for countertops, which offer various aesthetic qualities and functions. Two of the most popular materials used for countertops are granite and quartz.

Having a general understanding of granite and quartz is important. Granite is a 100% natural material. It is mined from quarries, cut and then polished. Quartz countertops are a 95% natural material; the other five percent is binder and color. With this basic makeup in mind, we can compare qualities of both.

Look of Countertops

Granite is slightly more natural looking due to its 100% natural composition. It can be found in a variety of unique colors and patterns. Though not quite as organic in nature, quartz still provides a stone aesthetic. Since it is engineered, quartz may be more easily found to fit a particular color.

Maintenance

Granite is more porous than quartz. For this reason, it requires more maintenance. It is suggested that granite countertops be resealed annually to ensure longevity, while quartz does not need the same care.

Durability

Both granite and quartz are incredibly durable. Because of granite’s porous nature, spilled liquids can cause staining. While quartz will not stain, it can be damaged by excessive heat.

Price

While the cost of granite and quartz are similar, quartz can run slightly more expensive. Based on estimates from HomeAdvisor, the national average cost to buy quartz without installation fees is $75 per square foot, while slab granite can typically be purchased between $40 and $60 per square foot without installation. We suggest getting quotes from two to three professionals, with installation fees factored in, so that you are able to get what you want for the best price.

In deciding between granite and quartz, there is no right or wrong decision. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and you cannot go wrong with either.

What is a change order?

During the construction process, it is important to address sensitive subjects to avoid future conflict. Contracts solidify expectations and help to ensure that contractors and customers understand expectations.

Once a contract is in place to specify a scope of work and the budget, change orders are essential for moving forward. A change order is a written document that records alterations made during construction and acknowledges any increase or decrease in the cost and timing of the project.

In short, change orders consist of:

  • Revisions made to the scope of work
  • Updated pricing for revisions made
  • Alterations to the existing contract to accommodate the new scope of work
  • The signatures of the contractor and the customer

For a more in-depth understanding of the subject, check out eSUB’s explanation.

The key to a successful change order is a clear, two-sided understanding of expectations between customer and contractor.

At The Residences at 66 High Street, building allowances provide a clear set of guidelines for both contractors and customers. In the event that a client goes under or over the total budget for the allowance, a change order would be necessary.

General Contractors, Subcontractors, Builders: Who should I hire?

When constructing a new home, deciding who to hire can be a time-consuming process. You want to be sure you hire someone who is trustworthy, does quality work, and sticks to budgets and timelines. But who exactly do you need?

General Contractors

General contractors (GC) can be an individual or an entire company, and oversee the entire construction site. They are hired for both residential and commercial projects. The first responsibility of a GC is to make an estimate of the entire project including the cost of materials, labor, and any subcontractors that will be needed. From there, a project manager will oversee the project, communicate with the homeowner, ensure materials are ordered and delivered on time, and oversee subcontractors. A big benefit to hiring a general contractor is they already have built a pool of subcontractors they trust. In addition, subcontractors will often consider projects for a contractor as a priority over a job for a homeowner. To learn about Horton Group as a general contractor, click here.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are typically skilled in one specific trade, such as tile, drywall, insulation, or roofing. Subcontractors fill their contract directly with the contractor, so you do not need to worry about hiring each different subcontractor if you have a general contractor. If you are only updating one part of a room, such as installing new tile flooring, you may want to hire a subcontractor to complete the job.

Builders

A builder, like a general contractor, will see the project through from start to finish. The difference is that a builder often has a crew to complete the construction work, from foundation to roof, subcontracting only for specialists like electricians and plumbers. They also manage the project and communicate with the homeowner throughout the process.

No matter who you hire, you are entrusting another person or company to carry out your vision. Be sure to communicate your vision, budget, and timeline clearly so the outcome is what you want.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑