Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Things Cost in the SF Bay Area

As a follow-up to our previous post I thought it would be a good idea to discuss some of the costs we've had with this place. What we thought we paid for, and what we got for our money.

First off, 'The Kitchen Designer'

Irene did all the right stuff. She checked Angie's List and a couple local lists and got three names for us to talk to. We interviewed them all and settled on one that seemed to be what we needed. She said she did all her work in Chief Architect, her prices seemed reasonable and we liked her initial ideas.

I sent her .dwg files of the house and scaled pdfs for her to start her designing process. She couldn't figure out how to get the .dwg files into Chief which really annoyed me. When I got my copy it took me like 5 min to do it without reading the manual. This makes me think she only had the light version of the program which does not allow you to import files.

After waaaay too long and a lot of back and forth we met with her to view her initial designs. All she had done was printed out a copy of our floorplan and put a couple pieces of tracing paper over it so she could doodle out some ideas. About 20 min into this meeting I realized that she had maybe spent the hour before this meeting whipping out these 'designs'. Designs that ignored the things we told her were important to us and designs that were impossible to do in reality. She had things like the stove in a spot where you couldn't open the oven door while someone was seated at the dinner table? I was mostly annoyed because we told her specifically that we wanted to see things in 3-d done in Chief. Come to think of it I never saw any proof that she had the program or knew how to use it. It literally takes 10 min to whip out a basic kitchen in Chief if you know what you are doing...

So, for her three designs she did, we got one useful thing - switch the fridge to a new place to make the prep sink easier to use.

Price tag for one good idea $600

Kitchen Cabinets

We shopped around all the local quality cabinet shops, and for the cabinets in our initial kitchen design the prices ranged from $17-$37,000 for just the cabinets, installation and counter tops would be extra.

Next, we turn our attention to the idea of an architect to help us design out our master plan for the house.

Architect Costs

We went through the same drill and came up with three names. We interviewed them and were again shocked at what it costs. The arch. who showed up in the brand new $100,000 Por-shaaaaa wanted $24,000 to do the design and permit ready drawings. The two other guys were not much different. They all want a % of the building costs or budget...which I think is an inherent conflict of interest as the more expensive the house is the bigger their fee.

So we completely gave up on that idea....until Irene found this guy. He's a local architect. Lives in Alameda on a boat and is a retired professor of archetecture. He works in auto cad and knows the people at the Alameda building dept. He could read our .dwg files and was able to do a couple of designs...He made a couple of stabs at the top floor and the kitchen. I think he made one good suggestion in the kitchen...uh it was the tall pantry cabinet in the sunroom I think.

After weeks and weeks of weird lame excuses from him, he could never come through with any kind of finished design. He finally came over one Sunday afternoon and.....he was drunk....yep, we picked ourselves a drunkard for an architect.... We asked him to not come back after that.

Total cost for one good kitchen idea? $200

What really burns us is that we lost like six months to this process.

Quotes from Design-Build Firms

We covered this in an earlier post but to refresh: We've heard from 3 design-build firms so far and the prices they are all quoting are around $300-400 /sq ft. Heck, two of them said that doing a simple bathroom would cost $40,000.

Not to defend these numbers but we are talking about quality contractors, the kind that get their work in magazines like Fine Homebuilding.

So, thats what some of those things cost...I could do a run-down of all the costs for all the major projects we've done but that feels like TMI.


Annie said...

That first "kitchen designer"? I think I would have not paid her, or demanded my $$ back as she did not hold up her end of the bargain. She told you she did ALL her work using a software program you are familiar with and she couldn't bother to use it for you? I would have at the very least dogged her into a much lower fee. I hope you left her negative feedback on Angie's List!

The MadScientist said...

Hi Annie,
You know I don't think we ever did leave her any negative feedback on Angies...geez we really shoulda...