Help! What would you do (GC question)?
We hired a design-build firm (I thought) to draw up plans for our remodel. We paid $2500. I spent several hours showing him around the house, and everything that we want to do in each room, but in particular the kitchen/family/living/laundry areas (creating a kitchen/dining/living great room & a den and fixing out of code venting for the laundry, new stair railings, replacing windows and doors and redoing the fireplace facade). I was under the impression that the $2500 would take us through the design phase for this partial remodel, at the end of which we would have a set of drawings and an estimate for the job cost. Now I am learning that the design-build guy thought I was paying him $2500 to come up with a list of the elements that we want, and from that list he would then give us an estimate of the cost to come up with the architectural/structural engineering drawings. In other words, he thinks I paid $2500 for him to essentially give me a BID on the architectural portion of the job. We had hired his firm previously for a master bath remodel, for which we paid $2500 and received architectural drawings and a bid on the job itself, so I went into this with that understanding in mind for this project (we ultimately did not use his firm for the master bath remodel because we decided to buy the house we are now remodeling instead of investing in the previous house). The $2500 would be applied to the total cost of the job should I hire him to do the entire project, but is non-refundable if I choose to end the project. I would not have complained, of course, if he had charged more for the drawings this time since the project is of larger scope than the last, but I think it's unreasonable to expect us to pay $2500 for him to come up with a BID. He has excellent references and is in demand even in the down market, so I have every reason to believe that he would do a good job, but I'm nonplussed at the idea that I am paying thousands just for a bid with no idea what the actual cost for the drawings will be. He has offered a full refund of the $2500 due to the misunderstanding should I decide to find someone else.
Would you take the refund and look for someone else or keep going not knowing how deep into the well the architectural costs (let alone the building costs) will be, knowing that before you find out how much the DESIGN will cost you will have invested at least $2500 ($5000 if I ask him to draw up the entire interior remodel)? I'm very frustrated because I really liked this guy, and wanted to work with him, but I am nervous about committing without any understanding of cost with him. TIA!