Your San Carlos Remodel

bobbredel Featured , San Carlos Real Estate Leave a Comment


Undertaking a remodel or home addition is one of the most exhausting/rewarding experiences that you can have as a homeowner.  It is a popular option in San Carlos.  If you have a lot of patience and a very strong marriage, you may be able to survive.  It’s not for everyone.  However, if you are considering a remodel, here’s what you need to know:

Step One:  Planning

For new construction, many homeowners will choose to go with an architect.  For smaller additions or remodels, many people are choosing to go with a designer to save on costs.  Architects and designers are both capable of drawing plans that will be submitted to the San Carlos Planning Department for approval.  The pros and cons between using an architect or a designer are obvious.  While an architect is more costly, their ideas, training and overall finished product may be far more attractive.  If you know what you want and are simply looking for more space, a designer may be the way to go.

Cost Estimates:

Architect:  $15,000-$50,000

Designer:  $5,500-$25,000

Planning Department:  $1,000

Advice:  San Carlos abides by several rules that come into play in the design phase.  Setbacks, lot coverage and variances all come into play.  Working with an architect or designer that has experience working with the City of San Carlos will make a big difference.


Step Two: Building Approval

Depending on the type and scope of your project, you can expect the San Carlos Planning Department to get back to you with an answer anywhere from two to six weeks after you have submitted your plans (these are the current wait times, which are subject to change).  The plans will either be approved, a request for further information will be sent to you, or changes will need to be made prior to approval.

Once you have obtained the approval you will need to get your plans ready to submit to the San Carlos Building Department.  If you are working with an architect and the architect does not handle the engineering in-house, you will need to find an engineer to work with your plans as you get ready to submit the new plans to the San Carlos Building Department.  Once the engineering has been completed, you will be ready to submit your plans.  Currently, the San Carlos Building Department is taking about four to eight weeks for a response on new plans.  The Building Department will either approve your plans, ask for more information, or may approve your plans with the added requirement of special inspections to take place during the building phase.

Cost Estimates:

Engineer:  $7,500-$25,000

Building Department (including permit issuance):  $3,500-$7,000

Advice:  If you are on a strict budget, and your addition is not terribly complicated, often designers will have someone one staff who is qualified to draft the engineering plans at a fraction of the cost of hiring a separate engineer.


Step Three:  Hiring a Contractor

Once you have your permit issued from the City of San Carlos you will be ready to finalize an agreement with your contractor of choice.  We have some great ones in San Carlos (please email me if you would like a few recommendations).  The City of San Carlos can be tricky to deal with in certain instances.  Having a contractor with tons of experience with the San Carlos Building Department is a major bonus.

Prices will fluctuate greatly in this area.  Make sure that any prospective bid has line-item allowances for every aspect of the project, including appliances and finishes.  Most agreements that our local contractors provide will not be the most legally sound document you have ever seen.  Read them carefully and do not be afraid to run it by an attorney or ask for changes to the proposed contract.

Cost Estimates:

Contractor:  $250-$400 per square foot

Advice:  Depending on the complexity of your project, you may want to consider being your own general contractor.  You can expect to save about 25% on the total cost of your project.  This route is not for everyone, as it takes a considerable amount of time and effort.


Step Four:  Decisions

Your plans are approved.  You have your permit.  The contractor has been selected.  You will now be inundated with countless decisions.  Everything from the type of wood being used, finishes, appliances, floors, paint colors and layout preferences.  When the subject of the kitchen comes up and, especially cabinets……run for the hills. Take that advice from personal experience.

Advice:  Don’t lose focus on the true purpose of your remodel.  Are you remodeling your home to live it in another 10 to 15 years, or are you planning on moving in 5 years or less?  The answer to this question will dictate if you are remodeling mostly for resale or something more suitable for your individual needs.

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