Why AA Designs & FAQs

GENERAL FAQs:

Why should I trust AA Designs?

You can trust our experienced Design & Build organization to get the most creative ideas as well as the construction quality you want. Our design and construction expertise and efficiency will make your dreams a reality. You will deal with a single source for your design, building and product selections. We specialize in quality work and old fashioned craftsmanship. You can trust our work, and we support your warranty with for more than 10 years of experience.

Why do you recommend I use California licensed contractor?

There are many reasons to use only a licensed contractor, even if you can save a few dollars with unlicensed workers. By law any construction work over $500.00 can be done only by a licensed contractor. NO EXCEPTIONS! Any homeowner that contracts with an unlicensed entity may be held liable for on-the-job injuries etc… This may not seem fair but it’s the law. If you use an unlicensed contractor homeowner’s insurance will not protect you against any liabilities. Licensed contractor knows his trade and has been tested, licensed and bonded.

Are you licensed, bonded and insured contractor?

We hold a valid California General Contractor license # 821602. We are fully bonded and we carry worker’s compensation, general liability and automobile insurance policy. We will provide you a copy of our bond and certificate of liability insurance with the detailed information upon request.

Are you an experienced remodeling and construction builder?

We have been building and remodeling properties since 1990. We have successfully completed many Design & Build projects which established our reputation. In addition to many years of experience we have many satisfied clients and large portion of our new business comes from past or recent client referrals.

Is your work guaranteed?

All Design & Build projects are guaranteed by our comprehensive 3-year limited written warranty. To get detailed warranty information click here for our 3-year warranty. We use only licensed engineers to design the foundation and critical structural and load bearing elements. To get our comprehensive 1-year limited written warranty that applies to our express projects click here 1-year warranty.

What references do you have?

We have a long list of references, including numerous letters of appreciation and letters of recommendation. We will happily provide you contact information and arrange a visit to one or more of our client’s properties. (Confirmed specific appointment time required.) In addition to our client references we will also provide you our supplier references.

How do I select a contractor and start building?

Selecting a contractor you can trust to build your project is your most important step. Your decision should never be based solely on the estimated price, since there is a major problem comparing bids from two or more builders. The only sure way to compare bids is to hire an architect to design a perfect (and expensive) fully detailed construction plan with detailed drawings including all specifications and all materials, and then pay the same architect to inspect every single aspect of your construction. For residential construction this is usually not feasible because typical architectural plans for a 2,000 SF residence cost around $60,000. We do all of this and much more for a lot less. As your contractor (builder) we are your “ship captain”, and our designers or draftsmen draw all plans or “maps” for our voyage. The contractor needs to be the captain from the moment you begin planning the voyage through its completion. In addition to quality construction our clients get valuable and extensive services from our entire team of professionals.

Do you charge for consultation or project estimate?

As a Design & Build organization we always provide our consultations free of charge. We cannot provide free estimates without detailed architectural drawings because our system is different from other contractors. Most builders promise you a free estimate. Experts’ time is never free and therefore any free estimate is likely based only on quick observations. Most contractors will give you a free low bid to “lock in the deal”, and then tell you they will only do the work on a cost-plus basis. This results in errors and financial surprises at the end of the project. We give you more than a free estimate: we consult with you about your project and help you decide which remodeling option is best for you. We help you select all finishes and accessories and we help you decide what alternative best suits your budget.

How do I schedule a consultation and how long does it take?

You can schedule a free consultation by calling us at (949) 310-4442 or by email to aadesigns5@gmail.com. To provide the best service we must understand your goals and dreams and gather all your input. Typical consultation takes between one and three hours, depending on the complexity of your project. It is important to spend enough time in the first meeting to clearly understand your project objectives.

What about financing?

We refer Home Improvement financing for smaller projects provided by GE Money and local banks and private lenders. Financing a remodeling project is totally different from a new home construction and only few financial institutions offer this type of financing. We will work with your lender to make the process go smoothly.

Do you have expertise in commercial and industrial projects?

Yes. We have done numerous large, medium and small residential, commercial and industrial projects. We specialize in difficult additions and remodeling because our team has the experience and expertise required to do them right. We especially enjoy doing highly customized and challenging residential additions and remodels.

How long will the project take?

Building project can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to twelve months or longer, all depending on the size and complexity of your project. It is important to realize there is a huge difference in the scheduling talent among different remodeling contractors. Main reason for remodel projects to run over schedule is a lack of planning. Most remodeling contractors are excellent craftsmen and genuinely good people, but they do not like to take time for planning, estimating, scheduling, selection, and detailed specification work which results in too short project timeframe or schedule.

How do I get started?

First we meet you and your spouse in your home to begin to understand your needs and your dreams. We discuss what you want, and we show you our process to design, plan and remodel your home during this free consultation. Most projects require a second meeting where you review our proposal and the estimated budget. This step requires a design fee to develop detailed floor plans, elevations, perspective (and a scaled down model if desired). We begin planning and selection process for your project. Next you approve final plans, get HOA approval (if necessary) and obtain a building permit. As soon as we have the permits we are ready to start building.

Why do I need a follow up meeting?

Use the “shortest distance between two points” rule: because it is the most efficient way to select a contractor for your construction project. Finding your “captain” is the single most important decision that will affect your entire remodeling experience. Be sure to take time to get to know your contractor, his philosophy and his values, his education and experience, understand his management style, personality and demeanor and make sure you are a good match.

Why bring my spouse when I make all the decisions?

Your spouse should accompany you to the meeting because he or she will live in this home with you, which may affect some key decisions. Your spouse may not need to attend every meeting, bring them only to meetings where key decisions will be made. We always recommend that your spouse attends the first meeting since this is where you can both gauge if our company is a good “match” for you and your remodeling project. Over the years we learned this allows a much better client experience.

What makes a kitchen more or less expensive?

Kitchens can be extremely expensive, depending on a number of factors. For instance, kitchen sinks can be purchased from $100 up to $5,000. Kitchen faucets, appliances, cabinets, counter tops etc. are the same way. Floors, lighting and amenities follow the same pattern. You can go high end, low-end or anything in between. Do you want a Rolls-Royce, Mercedes Benz, Chevrolet, VW or Yugo kitchen? The price of a kitchen remodel is principally determined by the quality of the finishes that you select.

What can I do myself to help cut costs?

The most effective way to save money on a new home construction, addition or remodel is to select less expensive finishes and amenities. Planning exactly what is important to you and prioritizing all items all but guarantees that you will get exactly what you want, and don’t pay for what you don’t. If you have a limited budget it is prudent to divide your home remodeling projects into several phases. Remodel the kitchen this year, remodel the bathrooms next year, and build an addition to the house the following year.

Can you give me a rough guess-timate over the phone?

No! We are not psychics or mind readers, and we cannot travel into the future without personally seeing your existing home and what condition it is in, and understanding your dreams and plans. We never give estimates over the phone because they will always be extremely inaccurate. There is simply too much room for big errors as well as a high probability of miscommunication.

What is the difference between an estimate and a firm price?

Estimate is a calculated guess determined by adding total cost of all materials and labor required to complete a project. Labor cost is estimated by guessing how long it will take to do the necessary work. Estimate quality can vary widely: we heard of contractors that wrote estimates on the back of their business cards after 15 minutes with a homeowner. Without any doubt a very rough estimate. We prefer to meet with you twice at no charge before we can give an estimated project budget. Firm price is a fixed amount which we can calculate using detailed plans with permit, specifications, final materials selections and an accurate list of all items included in the project.

DESIGN FAQs:

Can I select the actual products for my project?

Yes. We will help you with the selection and design process. Our experience makes and your ideas make it easy and fun to select different types of materials and finishes for your project. In addition we believe in helping you make the best choices from the many products available today.

Why is perfectly designed kitchen important?

The kitchen “work flow” is the most important element of your home design. Perfect work flow kitchen makes you daily life enjoyable and easy. Food travels from your car to your stomach, passing through the refrigerator, kitchen sink and cook top on it’s way to your plate. Some kitchen design experts believe the microwave should be included within the “work flow circle”. The idea behind an efficient “work flow circle” is that the chef does not make too many steps and inefficient motions. We think the microwave should be inside the work flow circle.

What is the best place for a microwave?

Most chefs prefer their microwave to be above the countertop in an upper kitchen cabinet. However, some microwaves are below the countertop in a center island, and yet others are free standing. We believe that as long as the microwave is integrated into the work flow circle (refrigerator => sink => cooktop) at a place which reflects the way you cook your kitchen will be perfectly designed.

Can I be sure I will get what I want?

Clients tell us their past projects seemed to be “sketched” on the fly as the contractor went about the project: They didn’t know what the result will really look like until it was done, and the process seemed very inefficient. We use a proven procedure to design and select all elements of your project, and execute the building process in precise sequence. You are an integral part of the project and you know every detail at any time. You can order a scaled model of the final design before it is built. If we thoroughly design and perfectly specify your project we guarantee you will get exactly what you want.

Will you just designs our project?

This will depend on how complicated is your project. Usually we will not do only the design because we are busy designing projects which we will be building, and we don’t specialize only in the design work. If you intend to have us do all aspects of your project we will consider doing your design and construction in two separate phases.

What if I finish my design and my construction is delayed?

We understand that our clients’ personal life and business conditions may change after we start the project. Sometimes these changes force you to delay the construction until all your issues are resolved. If your design is completed and you cannot start the project, we may be able to help you protect your investment in the design and the permit fees. Design fee is not refunded but the drawings will be usable. The Building Code changes usually become effective on January 1 of each year. If you have a permit but don’t start construction, some of these changes may cause mandatory revisions to your already approved and permitted plans.

CONSTRUCTION FAQs:

Do I have to move out during the remodel?

Not always. We can usually design a plan to accommodate clients who prefer to live in their home during the remodeling. We clean the site every night and we use protective plastic to alleviate dust and dirt. Construction creates dust, especially during framing, sheetrock, mudding, sanding and texturing. Some clients move out while the remodeling is in process. Sometimes we can completely seal off the construction area from the rest of the living space so you can live in your home during the remodel.

Do you guarantee your prices?

Yes. We guarantee for 30 days all labor and rough material estimates, as long as they were based on complete set of plans with specified finishes and detailed list of all items. We review everything with you to make sure the plans and the list are correct and give you a firm price. Any changes require your approval of each line item with the total cost added to the price. Hidden damages and issues that could not be reasonably foreseen are frequently discovered after the remodel starts, because – unfortunately – we lack an X-ray vision. Concealed repairs and hazardous materials could also change the final price.

How do you handle changes during construction?

Sometimes our client requests a change, or a change becomes necessary during the project. We review the change with our superintendant writes the request including the estimated cost and you sign indicating your approval. The cost is added to your weekly invoice unless you decline the change.

What is my payment schedule?

You make regular weekly payments during the course of the project as you are invoiced and also as milestones are completed. Usually a weekly payment is scheduled to be made every Friday or Saturday, or when certain elements such as foundation, framing, roofing, etc. are started, and when they are completed. Weekly payments are easy to track since an updated progress report is provided with each invoice.

How you control dust and general construction mess?

We use protective plastics to screen-off areas where dust is generated. We also build temporary walls when necessary to separate living spaces from construction spaces. Air ventilation equipment can be deployed to help keep dust under control, and temporary filters may be returned over return air ducts, as well as some interim light bulbs.

Are your crews knowledgeable and nice?

Most clients tell us that in the past they had incompetent and unfriendly workers. Our crews are pleasant and friendly people with families like you. We screen our crews to make sure they are qualified, competent and trustworthy. Our crews are trained, and we monitor the performance of our subcontractors and the quality of the craftsmen they engage. We periodically ask our clients how well our staff and our subcontractors are performing.

Will you stay with my project until finished?

Our clients often tell us about contractors starting the job and then leaving before it is finished, not showing up for several days during the project, and even taking forever to complete it because they always come and go. When we start your job we stay with it until it is finished. We take more time up front to review all specifications and selections, which allows us to prepare shorter and more accurate schedule. The result is a faster and better remodeling experience for you and your family.

What is GFCI and do I need it?

GFCI is an abbreviation of a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and you do definitely need it. GFCI is a modern safety device mandated by the UBC (Uniform Building Code) and all state and local building codes. With properly installed GFCIs, if an appliance falls into a sink full of water, or a hair blow dryer is dropped into a bathtub full of water, the circuit would be tripped and electricity is turned off, so no one wil be electrocuted.

 

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