Do I need architectural drawings first to get an estimate on an additions project?

Answered by Brett ~ April 23, 2010 ~ Comments

I am getting ready to go to the bank to apply for the funds to add an addition to my house. I have an architect who is suppose to draw the house plan. She is telling me I need to get a quote from the contractor before she does the drawing. So should I ask a contactor how much it is going to cost without the actual drawings? What is the general process here? Who does what first?

Betty R. ~ Gainesville, Florida

Brett Kulina

This is a great question Betty, because many other homeowners find themselves in this same dilemma when gathering contractor estimates for a room addition or a home remodeling project. Although some contractors may give you a "per square foot" cost estimate, which may be based on similar projects that they have completed in the Gainesville area, it is very difficult to accurately price a construction project without referencing a detailed set of architectural drawings. Therefore, I feel that it is in your best interest to work with an architect first and have a set of plans in hand before you start interviewing contractors.

If your architect is wanting some budget guidelines before she begins drawing plans, then I would suggest that you give her an estimated dollar amount that you feel comfortable spending on the project. This information, as well as your expectations of what the room addition will look like(size, bathrooms, finishes, etc), can help the architect draw a plan that will be financially realistic for you. Although you may decide later in the process that you are willing to spend more money than this initial amount, it is important that the architect design within your budget and expectations.

I would also suggest that you meet with the bank before the architect begins drawing, because the bank does not need architectural drawings to make an initial estimate on how much money they are willing to lend you. As you know, the bank is interested in your credit score, your wages, your home equity and other financial specifics that have nothing to do with the room addition project.

So to be clear, let me unfold the process you should follow. First meet with the bank and come up with a dollar amount that you feel comfortable borrowing(and they feel comfortable lending). Secondly, meet with the architect and let her know how much you can spend and what you want and need from your home addition. Using those two guidelines, your architect should be able to produce a set of drawings that you can show to potential contractors. The contractors should then be able to produce accurate estimates on what it will cost to build the room addition, and you can use that information to help you decide which contractor to hire for the job.

Good luck and remember that this initial effort on your part will help get the project started with a realistic budget and clearly defined expectations for all involved.

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