Why Signing a Cost-Plus Contract With Your General Contractor Makes Sense

When I am contacted about an extensive remodeling job and/or repositioning of a commercial property, the potential client often wants to know if I should give them a ‘fixed-price’ proposal or do the work on a ‘cost-plus’ basis.

My answer is ‘it depends.’ If the job involves building out space in a historic or neglected building, it is likely that the general contractor will encounter surprises behind the walls, floors and ceilings. Each surprise requires more labor and materials. For instances like this, I recommend working on a cost-plus basis, where the general contractor executes the work then adds a fee to the cost of the project.

This approach requires trust and constant communication between the GC, the client and project manager. Each party needs to be on the same page so that all are involved in arriving at a decision when an issue arises. The GC should be accessible when the client asks why the costs are incurred and whether they are justified. The cost-plus basis works very well with customers who have done build-outs in the past or have experience in the construction industry and understand the complexities of building new within an existing structure.

Fixed-price proposals are more common for condo and homeowners seeking to build-out their property and budget appropriately. Custom-built homes and repositioned retail spaces in newer buildings are also conducive to fixed-price proposals. My simple rule: The more predictable the build-out work, the easier it is to write a proposal.

A fixed-price proposal may not be the right answer when working on a historic or long-neglected property. Most likely, the GC will need to amend the fixed price through ‘change orders.’ Each change order addresses whatever ‘unpredicted work’ is necessary to solve the problem. By the time the job is complete, the accumulation of change orders can make the job much costlier than the initial agreement. When this occurs, both the property owners and the GC may feel they have been taken advantage of.

At SPACiO, when the job is big and looks like surprises may be waiting, we recommend using the cost-plus approach. But the key ingredient for this strategy to succeed is trust. The GC must earn the trust of the client and the client should check the GC’s references to ensure that the partnership will be successful.

Cost Effective Luxury Upgrades to Sell A Home/Condo Faster

If you’re thinking about putting your house or condo on the market, you should consider making a few luxury upgrades to help increase your property’s value. Realtor.com has compiled a list of big impact improvements you can make that are surprisingly cost-efficient.

Upgrade Your Patio

Average cost of a new patio: $3,007 
Increase in home value: 3% to 4%

It’s no secret that more homeowners regard their backyard as an extension of their living space. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that outdoor kitchens and furnished patio areas alongside a fire pit are increasingly popular.

Irene Medina, a real estate agent at Medina Group Real Estate in Coral Springs, FL, says an outdoor kitchen is “a big plus in homes [priced] from $350,000 and up.” This can be anything from an area in the patio with a built-in grill and sink to a full-blown kitchen.

Low-hassle option: Don’t have the money for an all-out kitchen? Try adding French doors that open to the outside. This simple change will make your home feel lighter and brighter, and will appeal to potential buyers—all for an average cost of $879.

Add a Hot Tub

Average cost to install an above-ground hot tub: $321
Increase in home value: 1% to 4%

“Having a hot tub on the property is a great selling point if the home doesn’t have a pool or a water view,” Medina says. If the property has a built-in pool, a hot spa attached to it or nearby could also go a long way, she says. Prices run the gamut, depending on how elaborate you want your spa to be. At the upper end, these babies can cost thousands, once plumbing, electrical, and the tub itself are factored in. But they don’t have to.

Low-hassle option: Don’t want to heat things up that much? Potential buyers are simply looking for a backyard oasis. Consider a simpler (and cheaper) upgrade by adding a hammock surrounded by lush landscaping—your costs will start around a whopping $30 for the hammock. (Cost of fresh caipirinhas not included.)

When it comes time to sell, any special extras that can paint a picture of leisure and relaxation out back can be an incentive for those in the market for a new home. Leisure is a good thing, right?

Get Smart with an Automation System

Average cost to install a home automation system: $1,282
Increase in home value: 3% to 5%

These days, smart intercom/doorbells that can show a homeowner video of a visitor at the door (and use remote communication) are becoming the Main Street version of the urban doorman. Smart garage door openers, security systems, and thermostats are also becoming more common.

Not only will these smart gadgets help you feel more secure in your home, they are also a big draw for the tech-savvy buyer looking for innovative and practical home features, says Mike McGrew, treasurer for the National Association of Realtors® and CEO of McGrew Real Estate in Lawrence, KS.

Low-hassle option: Consider a small splurge on just a Wi-Fi video doorbell. For as little as $100, you’ll have a fancy amenity that can provide convenience and some peace of mind.

Add an In-Law or Nanny Suite

Average cost of a basement remodel: $18,618
Increase in home value: 5% to 10%

Real estate agent Nancy Itteilag of Washington Fine Properties in Washington, DC, says she recently was “this close” to selling a home, but for one major obstacle: The property wasn’t fit to accommodate the prospective buyer’s au pair.

In her market, where double incomes are at an all-time high, there’s big demand for homes with an au pair suite, in-law unit, or a flexible living space (often on the lower level of a two-story house to maximize privacy for both au pair and family). So while the initial costs seem quite high, they could pay off in spades when it’s time for a sale.

Low-hassle option: If you already have a finished basement, you’re in luck. Want to give the feeling of privacy without doing a total remodel of the space? Throw up some temporary walls. For just over $200, you’ll have an extra bedroom instantly. And if your basement has a separate entrance, it’s all the better—it can double as a living space that can be rented out for extra income.

Create a Wine Room 

Cost of a wine cellar: Starts at $4,000
Increase in home value: Varies, but can be as much as 2%

We’re not talking about a dark closet where you hide your best reds (although those pay off, too). We mean a next-level wine space—possibly furnished with a small island or table—for entertaining guests and igniting conversation.

For some wine collectors, this room is becoming more of a showpiece than simply a repository to let wine age. Accordingly, in high-end homes, these cellars are also moving from the lower level to upper floors—often housed in glass walls and under LED lighting.

Wine Cellar SPACiO Built Out at 321 Ocean

While Realtors® agree that a wine room can increase your home’s value, this home improvement should be thought of first and foremost as a treat just for you. Because you deserve it!

“Wine cellars are a bit like swimming pools. They come in all shapes and sizes and costs. And the next folks that look at your house may want nothing to do with them,” McGrew says. “So do a wine cellar because you want a wine cellar, and don’t try to justify it by an increase in value when you sell.”

Low-hassle option: Carve out a space in your home to display a few decorative wine racks and a wine fridge to keep bottles chilled and ready for entertaining. You could create your own wine enclave for as little as $200!

Change Up Your Flooring

Average cost of installing new flooring: $2,853
Increase in home value: 5%

It might not sound sexy, but flooring is also high on the list when it comes to features that pay off in a big way. Whether it’s made of reclaimed hardwood or picturesque tile or features heating, it can set the tone for the whole house.

Want to step it up even more? Heated floors in common areas such as kitchens and bathrooms are a nice amenity for cold winter mornings—and, of course, add a sweet touch of luxury to your home.

Low-hassle option: If you’re looking for a home makeover on the cheap, consider new carpeting in neutral colors, which can go a long way in pleasing prospective buyers. The best part? The price tag, with an average cost of just $1,491.”

Behind the Scenes: Building out the Iconic Grove at Grand Bay

Over the last decade, Miami has become a forefront for cutting edge architecture in the world thanks to starchitects like Zaha Hadid, Arquitectonica and Bjarke Ingels. As a GC, it’s always an honor to leave our imprint on projects that are taking Miami’s skyline to the next level. In fact, the SPACiO team recently completed building out a unit in Grove at Grand Bay, the luxury condo tower in Coconut Grove described by its architect Bjarke Ingles as a Caribbean interpretation of modernism.

With its twisting, dancing glass towers, it was by far one of the more unique projects we’ve ever worked on. All of the rooms in the unit were angled, making it extremely important for us to take the precise measurements in order to incorporate all of the different angles. For example, our client wanted to incorporate the large, structural columns into the interior design of their unit. The columns had a slight slant so we had to be very accurate with the marble installation. To incorporate the columns aesthetically, we advised the owner on the best color palate for the tile and wall paint tones.

When you’re building out luxury units at iconic buildings like Grove at Grand Bay, it’s important to integrate your own personal touch in a way that doesn’t disrupt the natural feel and ambience of the building. The work we successfully carried out for our client did just that. It combined raw with high-end materials, including mixed raw concrete of the columns, high-end marble, glass and woodwork, giving the unit a natural feel.

In addition to installing the columns and marble throughout the entire unit including on the walls of the powder bathroom, we also installed motorized solar and blackout blinds with channels to eliminate all light when they were closed. This is a great feature to have especially in Florida when the sun is always shining bright at 6 am.

We installed a beautiful onyx mirrored glass backsplash in the kitchen, which helped magnify the light in the room and give the wall a classy appearance. We built the closets, which included drawers, shelving and hanging space in beige linen egger colors, giving the closet a modern and clean look. We installed unique light fixtures, bathroom mirrors and a custom laundry room with pure white quartz countertop and beige linen cabinetry. We hung Onyx mirrored glass in the foyer of the unit, which made the entrance really stand out. Last but not least, we also painted the entire unit.

We’re looking forward to building out more units at the Grove at Grand Bay. It gives us the opportunity to truly show our level of craftsmanship.