Building and Renovating: Being Aware of Costs and Environmental impact
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Delores in Rhode Island who is considering a sunroom for her money pit. What can we do for you?DELORES: I’m just wondering, before I go into all the expense of putting in site plans and blueprints and all to coastal resources – because I’m on the water – if there’s a way to judge approximately what a sunroom should cost? Is there something like so many dollars a square foot?TOM: Well, it depends a lot on what exactly you’re talking about building. Now, is this going to be a prefabricated sunroom or …?DELORES: I don’t think it can be because they have to take out a couple of walls in the house.TOM: Yeah. Here’s what I would do. Since you’re on the water and you have so many questions and estimating construction costs is so important, I would definitely have an architect spec this out for you. You know, for the cost of hiring the architect, you’re going to get a lot of questions answered and, most importantly, if you do decide to build it, you’re going to have a set of plans that’s going to detail exactly how this has to be built; stylistically and also structurally, which is very important when you’re on the water because of the weather. This is a situation where I think it will be well worth your expense to hire an architect and there’s plenty of architects out there that are looking for small jobs right now.LESLIE: Well, and also, Delores, when you’re going to, at some point, file with your local building department and the environmental impact folks, you’re going to need all of that in hand before you even approach them; so the architect is really the starting line here.DELORES: OK. I understood that. I was just wondering. Because I don’t know if I want to spend a lot of money on that if I can’t afford the room.TOM: Sure.LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, an architect will also sort of steer you in the direction of are we talking about a three-season room, will this room be heated, is it strictly screened in, what are my building materials; and that will really figure out your costs per square foot.TOM: Yeah. If you start with the architect, you’ll be able to get an initial sort of gut-level estimate of what you’re talking about based on the kind of room that you’d like to create. And if it turns out to be too much money, the architect can also scale it down and give you some options. So you get that information first – you’re not talking a lot of money at this point, just to hire the architect – and if it looks like a good project, then you decide to move forward with the legal review.DELORES: OK, I really appreciate that information. I never even thought about doing that.TOM: That’s the way to do it, Delores.DELORES: OK, thank you so much.TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.