A Better Way To Build

Frequently Asked Questions

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You asked. We Answered.

Through the years, we’ve accumulated answers to key questions our clients ask when planning their custom home build or renovation. Below, we’ve included some of these questions to offer insight into how collaborating with Blue Water Concepts can turn your dream home into a reality. 

If you have a question left unanswered, send us an email at info@bluewaterconcepts.ca.

1. HOW LONG DOES THE DESIGN PROCESS TAKE?

The design process varies significantly, depending on project complexity, often ranging from three to six months. The main variable to affect design timelines is whether your project requires a development or a building permit, and if so, under which municipality. Permit timelines can be extremely long, ranging from a couple of weeks to several months. Upon confirmation of scope, your designer will provide you with estimated timeline information, given the breadth and formal requirements of your individual project.

2. HOW MUCH DOES THE DESIGN PROCESS COST?

Design costs are mainly contingent on three variables: size of scope, project complexity, and consultant requirements. You will be provided a design proposal that outlines all pre-construction costs, from architectural design fees, to estimating fees, to projected consultant costs. Every category of the pre-construction process is accounted for in this proposal (unlike many professional designers, who account for their in-house costs, only). This way, you have a comprehensive understanding of what costs are anticipated prior to breaking ground. The size and complexity of your project will influence how much time it takes to design and estimate.

Consultant costs include for services including but not limited to structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, hazardous material testing, environmental consultation, building envelope and energy assessment, etc. Each project will vary in its requirements, and we will clearly outline what to expect before signing a design contract with us.

3. DO I NEED A PERMIT FOR MY PROJECT?

There are two main types of permits that most projects may encounter: development permits and building permits. Development permits can affect new builds as well as renovations, and are typically required in response to hazardous or environmentally sensitive areas, such as flood hazard or riparian ecosystems. We will determine in our initial code assessment whether a development permit is required for your project. Building permits are generally required for projects that involve new construction, alteration of openings to the building envelope, structural changes, alteration to occupancy, or the addition or alteration of suites. Interior renovations that do not affect the building envelope and that do not affect the building’s structure may not require a permit. There are several other circumstances that affect permit requirements, and we will determine in our initial code assessment whether a building permit is necessary for your project.

4. IF I ALREADY HAVE A DESIGN FOR MY PROJECT, CAN I STILL WORK WITH BLUE WATER FOR CONSTRUCTION?

Yes, we work with other designers, architects, and planners on projects that enter directly into our construction stream. Often we will want to develop a Class B estimate based on the drawings you provide, making sure that we align with any costing that you have worked through with the other party. We want to make sure that we can realistically uphold any costing assurances made by your designer prior to committing you to a construction contract.

5. AM I CHARGED FOR DEVELOPING AN ESTIMATE?

Our standard process involves producing two estimates per project: a Class ‘D’ estimate, which acts as a ballpark figure to determine whether the project is feasible for further development, and a Class ‘B’ estimate, which provides detailed line-item cost information based on your approved design prior to construction.

One of our greatest strengths is to provide detailed and accurate project costing. Our in-house team is highly experienced, and works hand-in-hand with our designers and our production team to ensure that the numbers we use are accurate in reflecting the project scope and the logistics required for completion. There are few methodologies we’ve seen in the industry that compare to our estimating process. All this to say: an accurate estimate brings tremendous value to a project, and is worth paying for.

We work with you to develop your Class ‘D’ estimate – if you choose to move forward with Blue Water for your project, we then charge 50% of the hours spent on your project prior to signing on with us. If you choose not to move forward with us, we don’t charge you for the work completed. Your Class ‘B’ estimate is included under your design contract, and will be calculated based on your project size and complexity.

6. WHY IS IT REFERRED TO AS AN ‘ESTIMATE’ RATHER THAN A ‘BUDGET’?

Our estimates are developed from two main datasets: real time material costs, and past project metrics. Together, these numbers give us a very realistic view of what to expect for costs on a new project. At our most granular level of estimating, we do not obtain subcontractor pricing. Requesting finalized pricing on all aspects of a project can take months – so long, in fact, that by the time all quotes are received for a job, some quotes received earlier in the process may already be outdated. This is an inefficient way to price a project, and is incompatible with most projects’ timelines. Because of this, instead we rely on past project data to support our subcontractor costs. By definition, we are ‘estimating’ what costs will be based on past data. Once construction is underway, your project manager will assemble quotes for the project, and this will become your project budget.

7. CAN BLUE WATER PROVIDE PRICE COMPARISONS TO HELP ME EVALUATE DIFFERENT DESIGN OPTIONS?

We want to provide you with the information you need to make comprehensive and educated decisions throughout your project. To this end, our estimating team is generally able to provide certain cost comparisons for your consideration. Depending on extent and complexity, additional time may need to be added to our initial proposal to account for these requests.

8. WHAT HAPPENS IF MY PROJECT COSTS MORE THAN I WANT TO SPEND?

We do our very best to limit cost surprises. The purpose of our initial Class ‘D’ estimate is to stop a project in its tracks if it is outside of your budget, and to re-evaluate the scope if necessary. This model ensures that projects start off on the right foot with respect to cost. Your designer will work carefully with you to maintain a steady course with respect to scope creep, such that you are kept aware of areas vulnerable to cost-increase throughout the design process. If, at the Class ‘B’ estimate level, your costs are beyond what you would like to spend, then we will work with you through a ‘value engineering’ process to bring costs down and focus on how to bring your top priorities to life.

9. HOW DOES BILLING WORK?

We bill biweekly for our services. You will receive an email notification with a link to view a detailed breakdown of all the costs allocated to your project throughout the billing cycle. Our administrative team will be happy to help arrange whichever method of payment is most convenient for you.

10. DO YOU WORK IN AREAS OUTSIDE OF SQUAMISH?

Yes! We have worked in many areas in and outside of the Sea to Sky corridor, including builds on various remote islands. Remote coordination is one of our specialties, so if you are dreaming of a cabin where your only neighbours are trees and whales, we are up for the challenge!