A general contractor oversees the entire construction project. He or she hires the individual trades contractors (plumbers, painters, electricians, and so forth) and sequences their work. He researches any zoning requirements and obtains the necessary permits and inspections. Overall, he is responsible for keeping the project on time and on target.
A general contractor orchestrates his client’s wants, desires, and budget with his team of subcontractors, suppliers, and employees in order to build their future!
Individuals and corporations hire a general contractor because of their full range of services, expertise, experience, warranties, managerial skills, relationships with trades and suppliers… and the list goes on. Individuals often decide to be their own general contractor out of the satisfaction from doing a job themselves, but also because they think they’ll save money. General contractors are paid for their services – usually at a rate between 10% and 25% of the project’s total cost. By cutting out the general contractor, people think they’ll cut their costs. And they may.
Issues to be aware of:
- Doing it yourself usually costs more than you anticipate.
- Limited resources and trades relationships can impact your product and labor costs, sometimes leading to hiring or purchasing the most affordable rather than the most reliable.
- Being a general contractor is a full time job. You are investing your money but also your time.
- Legal issues of trades-contracts can be time-consuming and expensive.
RWR is a full service company that focuses on corporate and residential projects of all sizes. If you want to be your own general contractor, you may not find us to be price competitive. Most of our customers are busy professionals who want to leave details, problem-solving, and management to an experienced firm.
Customer Service Process
RWR builds your project as a reflection of your lifestyle. To do this most effectively, we spend a great deal of time with you, keeping you involved in all levels of your project. Through the initial interview, reviewing of bids and contract documents, the selections process, weekly site meetings and walk-throughs, the closing and final walk-through, and through warranty follow-ups, we are here to serve you in every aspect of building your future!
Price & Cost
This is a hard question to answer! It’s a bit like purchasing a car by the square inch or pound. If we don’t know what kind of car you are interested in purchasing, and what “extras” you might choose to include, we cannot accurately determine a price for your project. That is why the RWR staff members spend such a great deal of time interviewing potential clients. We take your plans and go through them in a systematic way – with input from and interviews with you, we can put a price together. RWR prides itself in providing our clients unlimited customization of their projects. This means that you control the products used in your home, you control the price. It’s that simple.
We price projects by bid, by negotiation, or through cost-plus agreements. Depending on the size of a project, pricing can take from 1 day to 4 weeks. Our staff takes your plans, architectural documents and discussion notes from our meetings with you and performs in-house take-offs, i.e., measurements that help us to put together a grocery list for all needed items/labor for your project.
We then take this list and get pricing from suppliers. We also invite various trades contractors (plumbers, electricians, HVAC companies, etc.) to present bids for your project. All pricing and bids are evaluated and then put on a spreadsheet.
We choose suppliers and trades contractors for your project based on the pricing, quality of products and workmanship, schedule, relationship, and who we feel will best serve you by meeting your needs. We do not always take the lowest number.
We mark up the total for our overhead and profit. These choices are reflected in the price we present to you. In reviewing the price with you, we will show you our spreadsheet, together with all the figures that make up our pricing, including our markups.
RWR believes that clients need to understand all the items that make up the pricing on your project.
What is included in an RWR contract may vary from project to project depending on many factors. Generally speaking a contract may include:
- Summary Letter: Providing an overview for your project.
- Contract or AIA Document: Stating the terms and conditions for the construction of your project.
- Project Specifications: Stating the materials/process to be used in the construction of your project.
- Allotment Listing: Clarification of those items to be selected/determined by the owner providing flexibility and control for the final esthetic outcome a cost for the project.
- Mold Notice, Disclosure and Disclaimer: Client education.
- Why Is It Hard To Guarantee A Delivery Date: Client education of the many factors that can impact a construction project.
- Initial Client Selection Sheet: This is the information (from plans and interviews with you) that the initial price for your project was based on. Allotted areas will be identified with dates that final selections must be made.
- Construction Schedule: This schedule states RWR’s goal for the construction of your project.
- Signed Copy of the Plans: We have you sign our office copy of your construction prints to verify that these plans are what you want built. Any changes made by you, the architect, or the designer throughout the project will be made on this set of plans initialed and dated by the owner and contractor.
Yes – generally speaking, allotments allow you the flexibility to control the final outcome, esthetically and financially, for your project. Allotments are based on your prints and our interviews with you. They are based on your initial selections, desired personalization, and lifestyle customization for your project.
Allotments are a part of the total price for your project; but remember, with RWR you will only be charged for the amount of allotment you spend. We help you shop! We facilitate dialogue between you and the trades contractors, and suppliers. We search out the right products on your behalf.
We help you to stay in budget! If selections challenge your budget, we communicate this to you prior to the implementation of your decision.
Change orders are a necessity. At RWR we use change orders to communicate with our client what changes mean in terms of costs, where they are in allotment utilization, and as a tool of communication. We desire – and our clients request – no surprises!
When change orders are required that increase the cost for your project, they are marked up at the same rate as your overall project by RWR . . . it’s the fair way of pricing.
At the beginning stages of the building process (pricing/bidding), it is important that clients share with the General Contractor their initial product choices for their project. Please be as accurate as possible in that the pricing/bidding for your projects and the allotments set for you will be based on the initial choices you make.
It is imperative that you make educated product choices that bring you complete satisfaction. Satisfaction is based on investigating all aspects of the product: the cost, esthetics, specifications, and final warranty/installation by the manufacturer/contractor. Allotted amounts include products and product installation. Based on your contract allotments and selections, RWR will write Change Orders for all cost differences and product changes for additions, credits, and communications purposes. RWR will warranty the products based on the manufactured specifications and the installation of the products you choose. RWR cannot be responsible for esthetic discrepancies that cause unhappiness or a failure by the client to completely investigate the chosen products prior to ordering and installation.
Selections are recorded, confirmed by RWR and the client, verification for cost is checked to see if it is in alignment with allotments, a change order is logged to show additional charges or credits to the owner, and the site is notified of the approved decision.
Setting up your construction schedule is like lining up dominoes to fall, in order, around curves, up hills, falling in perfect order, without hesitation. When it comes to construction, the dominoes often fall as planned, but at times trades contractors are delayed on other jobs or materials arrive late.
This can occur for a number of reasons. Each trade is scheduled days or weeks in advance of the actual work. This time period is referred to as “lead time.” Time is allotted for completion of each trade’s work on your project. Sometimes one trade completes its work a bit ahead of schedule. The next trade already has an assigned time slot, which usually cannot be changed on short notice. Progress pauses while the project awaits inspections. Weather, client selection delay, decisions are awaited from architects, designers – and the list goes on.
RWR will work to keep you informed of delays as well as schedule speed-ups! At RWR, we take pride in completing projects ahead of schedule . . . we’ll work to do the same for you! If you have questions regarding the pace of your project, contact us at any time!
Building Process & Schedules
Building is the process in which hundreds of thousands of pieces systematically come together in such a way as to culminate in the product that equals if not exceeds a client’s expectations and goals.
Builders seek to establish a predictable rhythm during the construction process. That helps them stay on schedule to meet the target completion date you agree on. Of course, many factors – particularly bad weather – can affect the construction schedule. Nevertheless, here are some of the construction milestones that builders set to make sure you occupy your new home in a timely fashion:
- Preliminary site work: clearing trees, cutting in a rough driveway for access, staking the foundation, and setting up temporary electrical service.
- Excavation and foundation work: digging, setting concrete forms, installing rough plumbing and electrical leads, pouring concrete, and finally knocking down the forms.
- Framing: placing the lumber for walls, roof trusses, beams, floors, roof decking, and stairs. This stage also includes covering the roof with felt paper for temporary protection from weather, and installing windows, exterior doors, exterior sheathing, trim, siding, and decks.
- Exterior work: painting exterior siding and trim and installing final roofing materials such as shingles.
- Mechanical work: installing rough plumbing (including tubs, heating and air conditioning equipment) and electrical work (including pre-wiring security, intercom, and central vacuum systems).
- Insulation: installation of interior insulation material, other than blow-in insulation.
- Interior finishing: installing and finishing drywall, trim, doors, cabinets, and built-ins. Painting and staining also happen now, as do installing flooring and hardware, blowing in insulation, cleaning the home and doing minor touch-up work.
- Final mechanical installation: installation of plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, electrical outlets and switches, appliances, heating and air conditioning units.
- Exterior work: finishing concrete flatwork such as the driveway and sidewalks, cleaning the lot (final grading), and landscaping.
- Final walk-through: the last stage, in which you and the builder meet to note last-minute touch-ups and discuss warranty issues.
RWR provides written Construction Schedules as a part of our Construction Contract. The schedule shows you when your project will be completed and ready for occupancy. Using it, you will be able to see the progression of construction. You will further see and know when decisions and selections must be made by you, the customer, in order for RWR to keep the construction on schedule. Some of these selection items may require a decision from you 4-6 weeks prior to the scheduled installation date.
RWR will furnish you with forms for logging exterior and interior finish selections. These forms will provide you with dates for when selections must be completed. RWR gives a great deal of freedom in shopping for the items you wish to incorporate into your project. You can shop by yourself, or with an RWR representative. RWR will provide you with sources and showrooms for products, contact persons, addresses and telephone numbers, and budget allowance summary sheets.
We want to be flexible to meet your specific custom design needs, based on your individual lifestyle. We will craft your building experience with us to meet your needs. We thoroughly recognize that even the most scrutinized custom planning and design process cannot cover every detail you may want in your new home. RWR will make field changes to original plans/designs as may be requested to optimize your lifestyle. All such changes will be done via duly executed written Change Orders to preclude any miscommunications and misunderstandings of what is to be done as well as to delineate construction schedules and/or cost changes.
Quality Control / Walkthroughs
At RWR we are committed to operational excellence and complete customer satisfaction. Daily inspections from your project manager, a constant critical eye from all members of the RWR team, and inspections before and after you move-in all work together to ensure your peace of mind.
Our walk-through of your project includes a detailed demonstration of your home and important care and maintenance information. This is also when you confirm that your new home meets the quality standards expected, and that all selections and changes are completed according to your purchase agreement. Any items that may require further attention are noted in writing and will be corrected prior to closing with a secondary walk-through.
Our 5-year warranty is one of the most comprehensive in North Western Montana! After the final closing and you have moved into your new home, you may observe a few items that need further attention. These items may have developed or been missed at the final walk-through – this is perfectly normal, as there are more than 200,000 parts to your new home. RWR will provide you with a customer service packet that can be used by you, any time your home needs attention from our RWR team.
- One-Year Workmanship and Materials Warranty: RWR warrants your home to be free of material and workmanship defects for a period of one year from the date of closing. This warranty is based on the Residential Construction Performance Guidelines.
- Two-Year Systems Warranty: RWR warrants your home to be free of defects in mechanical systems for a period of two years from the date of closing.
- Five-Year Major Structural Warranty: RWR warrants you home to be free of major structural defects for a period of five years from the date of closing. Our exclusive Homeowners Manual goes into greater detail regarding these comprehensive Limited Warranty Agreements.
Mortgages, Taxes & Refinancing
Mortgage packages are usually governed by more factors than the interest rate alone. “Points” are pre-paid interest assessed by the lender at settlement; typically each point is about 1% of the loan value. It may be less expensive for you to pay a higher interest rate with few points due at closing than to pay a lower interest rate with more points at closing.
The most important aspects of any mortgage are the types and terms of the mortgage package. Mortgages can be adjustable rate, fixed rate, or a mix of the two. Term lengths can be as short as one year, or as long as 15 or 30 years. A 30-year mortgage is typical, but a 15-year mortgage can save you thousands of dollars in interest. Ask your lending representative.
The two most common mortgage types are fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMS). As the name implies, fixed-rate mortgages have interest rates that never change during the term of the loan. With ARMs, the rate varies within predetermined ranges, based on fluctuations in the financial market.
Other types of mortgages:
- Buyer/Lender Buy-Down: Gives the home buyer and initially discounted interest rate, which gradually increases to an agreed-upon fixed rate over a certain period of time. Buy-Downs can be especially attractive to younger or first-time buyers who anticipate that their income will rise as the year’s progress. They can enjoy a lower payment early on, which increase in time, as does their growing ability to pay.
- Convertible Mortgage: Gives the home buyer the option of changing the mortgage type after a specified period of time. Much lie an ARM, this lets you start with a lower mortgage rate, then “catch up” to your higher future income with a higher future monthly mortgage payment.
- 15-Year Mortgages Versus 30-Year Mortgages: The shorter of these two terms will give you a higher monthly payment, but by paying off your home loan in half the typical time, you will save significantly on interest costs. A 30-year mortgage will give you lower monthly payments.
Here are some frequently used mortgage terms:
- Down Payment: A cash lump sum paid at purchase time, to reduce the amount of the purchase price that you will finance through a mortgage.
- Points: Pre-paid interest assessed by the lender and due at closing. Each “point” is typically equal to 1% of the loan amount.
- Annual Percentage Rate (ARP): An interest rate reflecting the cost of a mortgage at a yearly rate. Can remain the same during the life of the loan (fixed rate mortgages) or can fluctuate (adjustable rate mortgages).
- Origination Fee: Charged by a lender to prepare loan documents, check buyers’ credit, and inspect or even appraise a property.
- Principal: The portion of your mortgage that directly comprises the value of the loan – aside from interest, taxes or insurance that are also elements of your total monthly mortgage payment.
- PITI: Principal plus interest plus taxes plus insurance. This is your total monthly mortgage payment.
- Caps: Contracted limits to the amount the interest rate can raise on an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).
- Escrow: An account held by the lender into which the buyer deposits funds for tax or insurance payments. Escrow also refers to any neutral third party who executes the instructions of both buyer and seller during the buying process, and who handles all the closing paperwork.
- Title: Document providing evidence of ownership.
- Assumability: Some mortgages are “assumable,” meaning they can simply be taken over from the holder (the seller) by the buyer, who then becomes responsible for the mortgage payments.
- Buy Down: A mortgage in which the lender subsidizes the mortgage by artificially lowering interest rates during the first few years. Payment then increase as time goes on and the subsidy expires.
- Balloon: A mortgage type that involves small payments for a set period of time, followed by one large payment for the remaining amount. The large final payment can either be paid at once, or financed separately and repaid over time. Balloon plans are most often used for short-term, fixed rate mortgage loans.
- FHA Loans: A mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration and open to all qualified home purchasers.
- VA Loan: A mortgage guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and restricted to individuals qualified by military service or other entitlements.
- Refinancing: Reducing your monthly house payment by paying off your current mortgage with a new, lower-rate mortgage. Homeowners also refinance to simply change the terms of their mortgage.
Because interest rates have become so low in recent years, mortgage refinancing has become very popular. Refinancing simply means that you are taking out a new, lower-interest-rate mortgage to pay off your old mortgage and achieve a reduced monthly payment. Homeowners refinance when interest rates fall significantly, or when they wish to change the terms of their mortgage.
Owning a home helps you to save money on your taxes each year because you can write off the interest payments and real estate taxes for your primary residence. When your loan provider determines the mortgage amount you can afford, these savings may be factored in. When you begin repaying any loan, the payments are mostly covering interest, so you’ll have a larger tax savings at this stage than later in life of the loan, when most of your payments are applied to the principal. This situation means that you may be able to afford more home than you expected, earlier than you think.