How to find the right professional to work with and get good quotes for the cost of the service or work is one of the more common questions we get from homeowners we speak with. Nothing can replace good old-fashioned research to learn what you can about professionals in the space. It also helps to be prepared with your wish list, what you think you can afford, and what you believe may be required for your project. There are several steps to take that we suggest may help you on this discovery journey.
1. Define your ADU project scope: What do you want to build? Consider factors such as size, layout, features, and any additional considerations like work that may be needed on the main home or specific design preferences (modern or matching the existing home). The more detailed your project scope, the easier it will be to obtain accurate estimates.
2. Research local building codes and regulations: ADU regulations can vary from one location to another, so it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the building codes and regulations in your area. Understanding these guidelines will help you communicate effectively with contractors and ensure that your project meets all legal requirements. The State has standardized the variables quite a bit, but jurisdictions still have some local control that you will want to be mindful of when it comes to your project.
3. Seek recommendations and referrals: Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues who have recently completed ADU projects or have worked with reputable professionals. Their firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights and recommendations, helping you narrow down potential professionals for your project.
4. Conduct online research: Take advantage of online resources such as the local builder’s associations and American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter, and social media platforms to find local professionals specializing in ADU design and construction and then review their websites. Look for professionals with positive reviews, relevant experience, and a portfolio showcasing their work. Compile a list of potential professionals to consider.
5. Contact and interview professionals: Reach out to the professionals on your list and schedule interviews or consultations. During these conversations, discuss your project scope, timeline, and budget expectations. Ask relevant questions about their experience, previous ADU projects completed in your area, and whether they possess the necessary licenses and insurance. Request references from clients they have completed projects with in the last two years, preferably on ADUs.
6. Request detailed proposals/cost estimates: Once you have narrowed down your options to a few professionals, request detailed cost estimates or proposals from each of them. Provide them with your project scope and any other relevant details. The more specific you are, the more accurate their estimates will be. Make sure to inquire about any potential additional costs or contingencies that may arise as part of their process or the project. Keep in mind that if you do not have a set of plans for a general contractor to review they will only be able to provide an initial rough guesstimate. Once they have a set of plans drafted by your architect or designer, they can provide a detailed estimate that can become the scope of work included in any contract that you might sign.
7. Evaluate the estimates: Compare the estimates provided by different professionals, paying attention to the breakdown of costs, materials used, and the overall approach to the project. Beware of significantly lower or higher estimates that deviate from the average. Consider the professional's reputation, experience, and the quality of their previous work in addition to the price and confirm you are comparing apples to apples.
8. Check references and portfolios: Before making a final decision, reach out to the references provided by the professional. Ask about their experience working with the professional, the quality of the finished project, and whether the estimated costs and timeline aligned with the final work. Review the professionals' portfolios to assess the quality and style of their work. Visit a job site if possible.
9. Make an informed decision: Based on the estimates, references, and portfolios, select the professional who not only provides a competitive price but also demonstrates professionalism, expertise, and has a good track record. You should feel very comfortable asking questions and confident you will get a quick response. Consider signing a detailed contract that outlines the scope of work, timeline, payment schedule, and any other agreed-upon terms.
Remember, the goal is finding the right balance between cost and quality. Choosing the lowest-priced professional may lead to subpar results or unexpected change orders, while the highest-priced option may not always guarantee the best outcome. Take your time, do thorough research, and make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and project requirements.
Our team knows that this discovery process takes time and effort. Hiring Hello Housing’s ADU team is a way to simplify this process. We are here to help and can assist you in searching for your professional team at any time.
The HelloADU Team