Thank you for considering Short Hill Design & Construction for your project.

We have created this introduction letter to help you understand the phases of our design/estimate procedure clearly from the start.

Our preliminary meeting and a preliminary 'Ballpark Estimate' if possible depending on the complexity of the project, is FREE! This estimate is based on similar projects we have done and is usually a square foot cost. Designing a custom addition or remodeling project is a process that takes some time and interaction to produce the project that will truly fit your needs. That's why we break down the process into 3 phases: the Preliminary Estimate, the Design & Consultation Contract and the Build Contract. Each phase is worth its price as a standalone item.

Phase #1 is the Preliminary Estimate. The preliminary estimate we provided allows you to see the scope of the work. We do this as an initial service to you so you understand the complexity of the job. I develop these estimates based on what we discuss at our initial meeting. The criteria is basically the use, size and initial finish level you desire but, many factors are involved in doing a project of this nature. We can give you the preliminary estimate at our first meeting if you provide us with enough information beforehand. You can easily do that from Contact us page Click here on this website.

Sometimes, it is beneficial for us to develop preliminary designs of the project so we are able to get a better idea of space and volume. If copies of these drawings are included with the preliminary estimate, they are provided at no extra charge and will give you a better idea of the project we are pricing for you.

The estimate and drawings, if included, are done specifically for your project and the preliminary estimate is based on what I gleaned from our initial meeting and any design that you or I may provide. This design and estimate may be more or less than what you are looking for but it will serve as a basis for the design & budget.

If you get bids from 4 contractors, based on your conversation with each one, you will be getting bids on 4 substantially different projects with different finish levels. Basically, comparing apples and oranges. If you take our Scope of Work and Specifications (Preliminary Estimate) along with any preliminary drawings you have or we provided for you, to another contractor, you will get a more accurate competitive bid from them. We fully expect this, therefore we charge for this service. We have provided a tool for you to use in developing your project.

Using our estimate as a baseline gives you the opportunity to see if our bid is competitive. Should any other contractor come in more than 5-10% of our estimate, they probably missed something, are not a legitimate Contractor or may not know what they are doing.

We use a nationally recognized estimating program called HomeTech. It is regularly updated for current pricing for materials and labor in your area.  This, coupled with our extensive data base of previous projects, provide us with an accurate method of producing an estimate which is inclusive. That means no surprise additional costs at the end of the job.

Once you understand that we are giving you a reasonable estimate for the project, we hope you will come back and have us fully design the project for you. If not, hopefully you have utilized our estimate to make your decision to use someone else and that this decision pans out for you. If you are going for low bid, beware, low bid usually results in substandard quality or the inability to finish the job because the contractor will run out of money before the job is done.

Phase #2: The Design & Consultation Contract. If you decide to have us fully design the project for you we move forward to design and specify the project. This is an hourly contract, at $80/hour, to develop the full 3-D CAD (Computer Aided Design) modeling, plans and specifications for the project. The deposit payment on the Design & Consultation Contract is $500 to get started. It is HIGHLY recommended that you do this BEFORE you put the project out for bid. Having a full set of working drawings, specifications and a Build Contract from us will give you the ability to get apples-for-apples competitive bids.

Once we get the approval to move on to Phase #2 we get right on the design. This design process could take a while so don't expect things to happen overnight. We want to get your project designed right as I am sure you do. There's nothing worse than getting to the end of a project and wishing we had taken a little more time on the front end design because things didn't turn out exactly the way you wanted.

The initial Preliminary Estimate from Phase #1 carries through this phase and develops into the final Scope of Work and Specifications for the project. We tweak it along the way so you can see how specific changes to the design affect the costs. This keeps you fully aware of how the project design and costing is coming along.

Once we get all the details worked out, we produce, from the CAD model, a full set of working drawings and specifications, ready to take to the County for a permit, and a contract to build the project.

This is the completion of Phase #2 and concludes the Design & Consultation Contract. At that time, you get a bill for those services. If you wish, you are welcome to bid this project to other contractors at this time. We don't have a problem with that as any other reputable contractor will come very close to our numbers as they will be bidding the exact same project.

Hopefully, by then, we have established a relationship and you feel comfortable that we can provide the level of service you are looking for in the actual construction of your project. If not, at least we were paid for our architectural services and you have a project that is designed exactly the way you want it.

Phase #3 of the project: The actual building of the project. You have had a chance to check out our references, take a look at some of our work and feel comfortable in our abilities. It is then that it becomes our job to turn your dreams to reality. We do that well. Just ask some of our previous clients.

When we are awarded the Build Contract, we will get started on it just as soon as possible but we will not put your project ahead of another we are working on. You wouldn't want us to do that to you toward the end of your project either.

Once started, we work as fast as we can to get your project done but not so fast as to sacrifice quality for quantity. We want to get it right the first time. You will appreciate that when we turn the keys over to you and all you have to worry about is how to arrange your furniture.

This should clear things up a bit for you about our design/build process. We try not to present a high pressure, early commitment sales approach but rather a step by step procedure that will keep you confident that we are intent on providing you with the best service possible.

Thank you for considering Short Hill Design & Construction for your project. We are looking forward to meeting with you and getting your project started.