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The Home Remodel Process: An interview with Kevin Braun of Braun Construction, LLC

By Kevin Braun

The Home Remodel Process is a big ordeal for anyone: first timers or frequent undertakers. That's why we decided to interview Kevin Braun, of Braun Construction, LLC, in order to get his expertise on the subject. He broke down the overall process as well as gave us some helpful tips for when it comes time to remodel.

Tell us About the Services Braun Construction Provides:

We provide all of the labor, material and equipment to complete a homeowners remodel or addition. We don't do design-work or create the plans, but work closely with the Architect and Engineers before and during the construction process. We also schedule the inspections with City and County building inspectors and make sure that the project is built according to local and national building codes.

What Are Important Questions to Ask a Contractor Prior to Hiring?

It's important that the homeowner have an understanding of what they would like to accomplish before contacting a General Contractor. They should have a list of general questions that they would like to ask, a set of plans, and a building permit. If the project is a simple home repair or some maintenance work, then a building permit and set of construction plans would probably not be necessary. Remember that the Contractor will be visiting the homeowners space for the first time, and it will usually take more than 1 visit to get an understanding of what the homeowner would like to have done. The Contractor can help this process by being friendly and open to the Owners ideas and concerns. I will usually offer suggestions and ask some basic questions before moving onto providing an estimate or cost proposal.

What is the General Home Remodeling Process?

The home remodeling process starts with an initial meeting as described in the last question. From there, the General Contractor will have to obtain some construction plans or design drawings. The accuracy of the plans and the review of the project site will decide how detailed of a cost-estimate that can be provided. Most times, there will have to be several copies of the plans printed out so the Contractor can work on the estimate. The Contractor will also have to contact the relevant Subcontractor and material suppliers and discuss the upcoming project with them. Some of the important ones are: doors & windows, plumbing, electrical, concrete, etc. While the Contractor is waiting for feedback from the Subcontractors and Suppliers, the contractor will have to start creating the main construction estimate.

The Owner and General Contractor should stay in contact during the estimating process to clarify questions that come up and decide when to meet next. The idea is to come to an agreement and have a construction contract signed between the Owner and General Contractor. Once this happens, a start date is selected for construction to begin.

By going through the process of providing an estimate and discussing ideas and questions before the remodel starts, a lot of the initial hangups that many homeowners have had to deal with can be avoided. The project can get started on the right-track and the homeowner can see work getting started.

As construction progresses, the project will begin to take shape and will take on a life of its own. The workers will become more familiar with the site, material deliveries will take place, and the Homeowners will see a lot of progress. The Owner and General Contractor should meet at least once a week to make sure things are going well and to coordinate issues. It's up to the General Contract to see what needs to be done and to make sure that everything is in place to keep the project running smoothly.

There are important milestones such as the "closing-in" or getting the building weather-tight. This allows work to proceed on the inside of the residence without having to worry about temporary protection from rain or snow. Also, the rough-frame inspection from the City or County Building Department (CID) will signify that the project is about halfway complete. The final stages of construction are the interior finishes, interior doors / trim, and exterior stucco.

How Should Clients Prepare for a Home Remodel?

Clients should get prepared for a remodel by doing a general clean-up of their personal items before work begins. Construction cannot get started if there is furniture, clothes, and personal electronics in the way. Sometimes these items will have to be placed in temporary storage or moved into a garage. Clients also need to have their finances ready to make progress payments during the remodel job. If money has been set aside in an investment account, or is not easily accessible, it may slow things down.

Finally, expect a lot of noise at the residence when the remodel work gets started. The residence has become a job-site, and will be full of the sounds of hammers banging, power-saws running, and concrete mixers. It is strange to be on a project that is quiet, and unfortunately, there needs to be noise in order to get construction work done. The homeowner and contractor should talk about daily working hours and whether or not there will be anything done on the weekends.

What are Some Issues Contractors Face During a Remodel?

There are a few issues that a General Contractor might face when doing a home remodel. The most common one would be unforeseen conditions within the existing residence.The construction plans might show a detail to be built a certain way, but the actual conditions of the structure wouldn't allow that to work. When this happens, the Contractor, Owner, and Architect / Engineer need to discuss the situation and figure out a good solution.

Please Describe Your Ideal Relationship with a Homeowner:

The ideal working relationship for a homeowner and builder is when both feel confident that things are going smoothly. It really helps to try and be on the same page with each other and work together. Just by being courteous, making payments on time, and exchanging information, a lot can get accomplished within a relatively short amount of time.

Home remodels are very complex, and sometimes the little things such as, offering a cup of coffee, or buying lunch for the crew, can go a long way.

Tell us About Braun Construction, LLC:

Braun Construction, LLC is a residential construction company that specializes in home remodels and additions. We also build custom homes if there is a market for them and a growing demand. The company was originally started about 10 years ago in Louisville, KY. I had moved to Louisville from California with my ex-wife and really appreciated the historical aspects of that city and its beautiful neighborhoods. The first project was a master bathroom addition and remodel. It was on the second level of a 3-story home in the Cherokee Triangle Historic district. The job was completed on time and within budget, so I realized at the time that I could probably be successful in the home remodeling business.

After that initial project, my company completed several more home remodels and additions within the Louisville area. I also purchased a home and re-built it, by expanding a new master bathroom, building another bedroom, adding a decorative front porch and remodeling the sunroom and existing bathroom. The final project in that area was the construction of a new 1,800 SF "Craftsman-style" home in the Clifton Historic District.

My business was relocated to Santa Fe in 2007. Braun Construction, LLC has continued to work on home remodels, additions, casitas and guesthouses since that time. We recently completed a 3,250 SF remodel and upstairs addition located on Old Santa Fe Trail.

What is Braun Construction's Mission Statement:

"Get the focused attention you deserve to create a personalized, sustainable building experience."

How do You Recommend Contacting Braun Construction?

People can contact Kevin Braun at Braun Construction, LLC by email or phone:

kbcontractor7@gmail.com

505-982-0302

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About The Author

The owner of Braun Construction, LLC, Kevin Braun, graduated with a B.S. in...

Phone: 505-982-0302

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