Once you've decided on your renovation project, you're ready to draw up preliminary plans, turn them into finished blueprints, and get estimates for the work.
Everyone from your local building department to contractor to subcontractors to material suppliers will use the finished blueprints. Consequently, they must be comprehensive, precise, and most importantly, accurate.
- Design Plans: List specific details such as size, shape, amenities, materials, finishes, architectural details, and layout of the finished project. This helps the architect, designer, or contractor create an (hopefully!) accurate rough draft or schematic plans (usually done on a 1/8 to 1 foot scale).
Another set of plans (drawn in greater detail on a larger, 1/4 inch, scale) should include your input, changes, and the advice of other experts.
- Blueprints: Once you are satisfied with the plans, the architect will create final working drawings (in 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch to 1 foot scale), detailing every element of the project, such as elevations, floor plans, wall placements, windows, heating and electrical systems, plumbing, lighting plans, cabinetry, roof lines, and all necessary specifications detailing materials, brands, colors and finishes.
These blueprints (named so because of the color of the ink) are the roadmap for your renovation. Design details and specifications should be listed on separate sheets and attached to the blueprints.
- Estimates: As plans are being revised, the draftsman will run them by contractors, suppliers, and tradesmen to get ballpark cost estimates. When the final blueprints are complete, get three bids for your project from different general contractors or builders.
If you're acting as your own general contractor, you will need to submit a blueprint to three members of each trade you'll need, including plumbers, electricians, painters, bricklayers, etc.
Each bid should be submitted in writing with specifics on measurements, work steps, and materials (including brand names) for every aspect of the task from preparation to completion, including how long the project will take. Costs should be broken down by line item. And the contractor should give you a total price for the entire project.
Bids are typically valid for 30 days, but can sometimes go for 60 days, especially if they are high or the project is large.
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