Exorcising old demons - how to control costs
We just finished a gut reno and addition to our primary home (2.5 years in the making) and we were very dissatisfied with our GC. And, though we did set out to do a no-holds barred project, I now realize that a lot of what I chose was needlessly extravagant, ie that building without real regard to costs upped the costs significantly for probably only marginal enjoyment, and, of course, adds little or nothing to resale.
So we now we are starting a new vacation home project (I will call it a new build though not sure if we will be a tear down or massive gut and rework). This time, I don't want to end the project feeling as I do now; ie, that I was ripped off by the GC and also that I wasted money due to my own poor choices. ( I mean poor in the sense that the reward doesn't justify the expense).
So... this time, I am entering into the project with costs in the forefront of my mind. Perusing this forum, my preliminary plan is a simple rectangle with simple roof line, rectangular rooms in multiples of four to save on materials and labor - where possible, plumbing lined up in the same area of the house, uses the existing foundation, etc. I am going with an unfitted kitchen because I like them and it will cost less. I am choosing basic tiles, flooring, lighting, BA fixtures. No rainshower heads and glass doors, etc. No heated floors (i forgot to how to program the ones I have here, and never turned them on, not once).
I will be deciding in the next few weeks or so on builders and architects. What I am looking for is some advice on how to minimize those costs. I am not trying to be unreasonable, but surely some people control those costs better than others. And on high end projects, it has been my experience, a lot of professionals and trades are used to dealing with clients who don't pay any attention to costs.
So, a few neophyte questions (one project doesn't make me much more than a neophyte):
1. If I really do know my footprint, floorplan, and have a good idea of the elevation I want, should I hire my architect hourly instead of as a % of the project? Is that something only junior architects agree to?
2. Has anyone hired a builder as a consultant during the design phase as a second set of eyes costing things? I refuse to believe that the only way to build is to end up taking twice as long and twice as much.
3. Like everyone, I hate spending my time picking out items, then telling my GC what I want, then having him buy it and mark it up 25%. I understand that they are assuming many risks when they do that, and I understand they need to earn a living. With 2x4s, I understand. But with, say, a Viking Stove, I don't get it.
So , a few questions re working with a builder.
3a Does anyone do a whole house on time and materials?
3b Can I insist to see all the bills so that I know they keep to the agreed mark up?
3c How low can markups go?
3d What can I exclude from them and buy myself? Eg lighting, bath fixtures, kitchen appliances
3e Can i bring in my own guy to to finish carpentry and built ins?
3f What is the best way to make sure the builder is paying the subs. How practical are lien releases as you go.
Thanks, again, for all of your help.