The following is a list of frequently asked questions. If your question is not covered in this section, please don't hesitate to send us an email or telephone us. We would be happy to meet with you.
What drawings do I need for construction or building permit?
Construction permit, or Building permit for new homes:
New homes are more complicated and the city needs a set of Survey drawing, Architectural drawing, Structural drawing, and in some cases Geo-technical drawings.
Some municipalities ask for arborist report as well.
Renovation: CONSTRUCTION PERMITS, OR BUILDING PERMITS
When you are making changes in your home such as expanding your living room or removing a wall to have an open kitchen or adding a deck in your yard, the municipality that your house is located in, requires a construction or building permit.
The length of time required in the permit process length is dependent on the scope of the work and how busy the municipal office is at the time. In any case, you will need to:
- pay some application fees
- provide some drawings, and
- your application form.
If you hire a designer, S/He can help you to prepare your architectural drawings and let you know what other things the city needs to have to proceed with your application.
Some other drawings that might be required are:
- Survey drawings,
- structural drawings
- and in some cases geo-technical report
The architectural drawings are the blueprint that any contractor need to start their job with.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Custom Home in Greater Vancouver?
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Custom Home in Greater Vancouver?
In the housing market, we say the cost to build a house is based on a "price per square foot". For example, a 3000 square foot house at $200.00 per square foot would cost $600,000.
NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT
Land is not included in this price.
In Vancouver, building permits, architectural, survey and structure engineer fees are also not included in the "price per square foot" calculation.
In the custom home construction industry, the total cost is generally broken down into two categories:
- Hard costs: These are the fixed costs such as the trade's contracts that will not vary unless an item is added to the contract. The cost for a trade to complete their task is established prior to the onset of his work. For example, the framer will get $10,000.00, which is a fixed amount, or what we refer to as "hard cost".
- Soft costs: These are indirect costs that are not Labour or Materials, and will include such things as additional engineering, supply of temporary power, a construction trailer and insurance.
Your homebuilder will have a complete list of what the Hard and Soft Costs will be for your project.
Average prices for a custom home in Vancouver area is between $170.00 to $220.00 per square foot
Generally speaking, the hard core of the building costs very similar to others. What will make it different is the finishing such as tiles, cabinets, crown moldings, door and window types, lighting and electrical fixtures, plumbing finishes and fixtures, the heating system, roof and exterior finishing and landscaping.
It's very important to know the neighbourhood before budgeting for your next home specially if you are planning to sell it in a recent future. You don't want to over spend in a neighbourhood that most of the homes are low cost or the other way around.
Contact us for your next project and we will help you to go over your options from choosing your property to final touches of your custom home construction.
Do I need a Building Permit if I’m removing a wall in my house?
First of all how can one make sure the wall you are removing is a partition wall or a load-bearing wall? A load-bearing wall supports joists from above carrying, dead and live loads. A load-bearing wall can be replaced with a flush or drop beam. The opening always vary and so do the beam size and type. Sometimes we can sister the existing joists and avoid any beams. Removing a load-bearing wall is not easy. Load bearing walls are structural elements and the beams need to be sized properly to code and/or Engineered according the opening, span and loads. Also for public records, if you end up selling the premises, the future owner can always retrieve the permit drawings and understand what was done!
HOW IS THE BEAM SIZED?
The beam is sized according the opening length and the joists span and depth, where the beam will carry the load. Many times the load-bearing wall does notline up with the beam or the load bearing wall below and any column (point load) will be off the bearing line below and it would need to be transferred away from that point, unless you are OK with a column in the middle of a room.
Our emphasis is providing a client oriented service by bringing VALUE to our projects. This is accomplished by our vast construction experience, strong communication skills, and our abilities to design projects within specific budgets and time lines.
I would like to renovate my home. WHERE DO I START?
Our living space is very important to our physical and mental health not to mention our lifestyle and happiness. The amount of time we spend in our homes or workplaces each day, breathing the air, can have a direct impact on our lives, businesses, and relationships. It is essential to take the right steps to make sure your living spaces are both healthy and functional for all concerned.
THE FEAR OF STARTING
But, before I discuss environmental concerns, lets discuss the first hurdle to improving your living or work space. That is namely the fear and anxiety a lot of people have when you mention dealing with contractors for the renovation. Everyone has heard of a horror story and it can be difficult to know who is telling you the truth and who knows what is best. Here’s my best advice.
There are challenges in each and every project, and in order to deal with them in the proper manner require both a level of patience and knowledge.
Following these next three steps will help you get the knowledge and confidence you need for your next project.
Identify your needs and write them down. Writing down or drawing a plan will help you memorize the changes you wish to implement and present it to the potential contractor for quotation.
The following improvements are considered a small project:
- changing windows;
- redoing the kitchen counter and floors or bathroom retrofit;
- replacing the handrails or guardrails;
- replacing the floor covering;
- curtains and blinds replacement;
- crown molding baseboard and casing addition or replacement;
- insulation addition;
- doors replacements;
- closet addition;
- repairs on the facade of the building;
- changing heating system or hot water tank;
- changing gutter and down pipes;
- repairing fascia boards or window trims;
- adding solar heater;
- redoing the drain tiles.
Usually, they do not require city permit and it's much easier to deal with:
If you are the kind of person who wants to do things by himself or herself, all you have to do is to buy the material for the best price, get the tools and roll-up your sleeves. You might as well call up some friends to give you a hand. Either you'll be proud of your work after it's done, or you'll get tired and will hire a contractor midway through.
HIRE A DESIGNER
If you don't want to do-it-yourself, follow the following steps.
First, investigate the product you would like to install by searching online; visit department stores or invite designers or contractors to offer their opinions. If you want to hire a designer they will charge you for their opinion, but you'll get more professional results and you'll minimize the risk in your investment. Contractors also could provide design ideas or they may have a designer on-board who can help with the process. Many contractors don't charge fees to come up with an initial quote but some do. Make sure to ask before hand to avoid surprises. (We offer one HR free consultation Contact now)
CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR
You can find a contractor from many different sources: phone books, Google, online directories, websites offering leads, word of mouth, mail in advertisements, offers and so on. But remember to interview them face-to-face and make sure they are on-time in their interview and sharp about the scope of work.
What you need to know before getting in a contract: make sure the contractor carries WCB, construction liability insurance and has good referrals. Contact their referrals and make sure they are happy with his or her work. Being member of an association is not an added value, anyone can become a member of an association by paying their membership fees including BBB. You can check their standing in BBB to make sure the contractor doesn't have a claim. Make sure they already have or will obtain the municipal working license.
Explain to the candidate contractors about what is in your mind and listen to what they propose. Each person has different ways of doing things, some could fit your job, some not. What is common in this industry is that everybody wants to criticize others for faulty workmanship in order to keep themselves ahead of competition. You be the judge and choose the one you feel has the most experience. Please don't hire the least expensive contractor unless s/he gives you a valid reason why his price is the lowest.
When you receive the quotes from different contractors, make sure their work, material and designs are same and compare them accordingly. If you have more than one task or trade to deal with, then hiring a general contractor over individual contractors is recommended.
A general contractor has better access to trades and material with better price and is responsible for each trades' job. When you hire trades separately, you have to be the manager for their scheduling and their work. This would require building knowledge in order to chronologically schedule each trade.
The scope of work and finishing materials have to be discussed and recorded in the contract.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CONTRACTS IN THE NEXT FAQ QUESTION.
The following changes are considered to be as major improvements and needs a few more steps to take before starting:
- Addition of a garage;
- addition of a room over the garage or any kind of extension vertically or
- adding windows to the side of the house;
- removing any wall in any floor to create open space;
- adding kitchen in to the basement or adding a suite to any floors;
- adding bathrooms,
- adding deck or balcony;
- covering the existing entry;
- adding bay windows;
- adding load to heating system or hot water;
- adding load to electric pane or adding new one;
- adding window well for basement windows;
- adding new stairs or removing one;
- adding a car port or a covered patio.
Since some of the work above requires professional involvement, the municipality you will need a permit for the construction work. It is always recommended that you go to your municipality’s building department to discussion your project prior to construction and obtaining permits to make sure there are no objections to proceeding with the work.
Next, talk to an architectural designer, certified building designer or a certified interior designer who is familiar with the zoning of your area. It's easy to spot one and their price ranges are similar (except if you hire a draftsman or a college student, in which you pay less for less expertise).
In order to apply for a permit you need the filled application form from the municipality along with a drawing. Your drawing must include the following with proper scale:
- site plan,
- floor plan of the house as existing,
- floor plan of the house as proposed,
- elevations, cross sections and details.
In cases, where the your project is dealing with structural load such as removing walls or adding floor area, a signed and sealed structural drawing with schedule B1-B2 will be required. In cases where your project is dealing with site work, set-backs or height, a signed and seal survey drawing from a certified survey engineer will be required. (the scope of work for a survey engineer differs in every project). Make sure your designer and survey engineer are in sync with the city requirement in order to avoid over paying. A good designer can help you find both a good structural and survey engineer.
Municipality will take your application and drawings to check against local building code and municipal zoning and will issue the permit after you paid the appropriate fees.
Meanwhile the permit application is in process, you can interview your prospective contractors for quotations. In these kinds of projects having a general contractor is recommended and is a huge plus. The rest of the steps are similar to the section b mentioned above.
What should a typical CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT cover?
Make sure the contract covers the following items:
Contractor (name of company) ______________________________
Telephone __________ Fax ___________ E-mail _______________
Business Number ________________________________________
Telephone __ _______Fax ___________ E-mail ________________
Project address (if different from above)________________________.
Description of Work
Scope of work and details of material, if any drawings available refer to the drawing.
The Work does NOT include the following
Terms of Payment
The Contract price is to be calculated as follows (select one):
(i) Stipulated fixed cost basis (all inclusive) $__________________, plus applicable tax Payments shall be due and payable as outlined in the Payment Schedule.
(ii) Cost plus ______________% of cost, plus applicable tax Payments shall be due on a bi-weekly _______ or monthly ________ basis (check one).
(iii) Cost plus fixed fee of $_______________________, plus applicable tax
Changes in Work
Utilities and Washroom Facilities
Owner reserves the right to let separate contracts in connection with the Work or to do certain work by Owner’s own forces as specified in Description of Work.
The Owner and the Contractor agree that in the event of a dispute as to the interpretation of this Contract or the extent of the Work, the issues shall be submitted to arbitration as agreed to by both parties or under the province’s arbitration statute.
Default by Owner
Default by Contractor
Since the payment method is based on each stage of the project, make sure each stage has been completed to your satisfaction before make the stage payment.
It's wise to hold back a percentage of the payment for a short period of time to make sure the final job meets your expectations. This is an arrangement between you and the contractor. If you have a good relationship with your contractor this may not be necessary.
I have a lot and want to build a home for my family, where should I start from?
STEP ONE – DREAM!
First, dream! Yes, you should have an image of what you would like to have in your mind. There are many architectural styles out there, you should determine which type matches with your personality.
STEP TWO – FIND AN ARCHITECT OR HOME DESIGNER
Remember, you should start your investigation with an Architect or a home designer about the size of your home or the heights (how many stories you can build). You can get some of this information from the municipalities your lot is located in, but the information that can offer you is limited zoning and won't take you too far.
STEP THREE – CONSIDER BUDGETING
Find a designer who is familiar with construction and the costs related to it. One of most important part of planning for your future home is budgeting. Budgeting right is one crucial and important step.
STEP FOUR – ESTABLISH STYLE
Now that you know the size of the house you wish to build, and the budget, you need to establish your style. Look at the pictures in the magazines and the internet and pull out things you like and dislike. These pictures will help you to determine your type and your architectural taste. Brainstorm with your partner and spend a good amount of time together discussing your style and the details. This is a very important part that has to take place before you take your project to the next level.
When you and your partner are in-sync with an architectural style, now is a good time to talk to your home designer. Your designer will need to know some information about your family, long term dreams and such so s/he can plan the design based on your needs, your budget, and the local building and construction limitations and restrictions.
STEP FIVE – HIRING CONSULTANTS
Usually the home designer will take the lead from here as far as the building process goes. Generally, they will hire a survey engineer, structural engineers and any other consultants that may be necessary.
STEP SIX – BUILDING QUOTATIONS
Once your architectural and structural drawings are ready you can take them to any builders to get quotations, so you can continue with construction process. Just remember to make sure the builder you are hiring has all the necessary insurances and permits in place. And just a word of caution, the cheapest builder is usually not the best builder. It is a big investment and it pays to make sure you are dealing with people that will deliver on-time and on-budget. If contractors bid too low you will often find that there are hidden costs that will surface later.
So, that’s what you need to get the process started. Good luck!