On most screen enclosures built in Florida, Orlando – Tampa – Miami – Fort Myers – ETC, the estimate/design process goes something like this:
Customer: Hey there, we need an enclosure that is this shape?
Contractor: Ok that will be $X,XXX
On a lot of projects like a simple rectangular pool cage with 4 90* angles and a basic mansard roof where little is left to imagination, that works just fine. What if the enclosure is not that simple? And on most projects it isn’t. If the project involves multiple angles, different, heights and all sorts of sloping roof lines, the communication gets fuzzy. Communication gets fuzzy in even a simple letter, communicating an idea or design with words, well that needs an adjective beyond fuzzy.
Look at this enclosure to the right. There are an infinite number of ways this enclosure could be constructed. Think of how you would describe this enclosure in words to 3 bidding contractors. Every one of the contractors would have their own idea of how it was going to be built, and would bid it accordingly. You would be getting 3 unique bids, all for a different enclosure, none of which exactly how you had it in mind. You would inevitably choose a bid, sign a contract, and get on with the crap shoot.
I see contractors and homeowners alike do it all the time — go into a project for a new enclosure or pool cage with completely blind.
How can you be sure you and the contractor are on the same page, both envisioning the same thing? How can you be sure you are comparing apples to apples with your bids and not comparing prices of contractors of who a completely different idea of the project scope?
Experienced building developers and construction project managers and even homeowners who do a lot of improvement know that having everyone on the same page is key. It means the difference between smooth & happy and sad & frustrated. They also have a secret. They ALWAYS start with the design process first and use a 3rd party vendor. By getting a visualization everyone is ensured to be on the same page with a concrete idea of the project shape and scope — nothing is left to imagination. If there is ever a question the design schematics or renderings are referred to as guidance. Armed with the design in hand, the experienced developers and project managers go out and get bids on the project know:
1) They will get more competitive apples to apples pricing.
2) The bidders will take them as serious, and professional, thus giving them professional pricing.
Point #2 is even applied to your enclosure project. When your request for a bid comes by a contractor, they generally think you have some professional building experience and bid more competitively. For many trade contractors (aka the people who will be building your enclosure) having the design done before hand was the simple key to getting ‘contractor discount pricing’. In my career I estimated thousands of screen enclosures, sunrooms, carports and so on. It didn’t matter to me if the estimate request was made by ‘John Doe’ or ‘Mega Developer Corp’, if designs were emailed to me, our contractor pricing was given. So sure, designs up front might cost a bit more, but often the designs pay for themselves in lower bids and certainly less headaches.
What design options exist, how much do they cost, who does them? A 3D rendering is the best way to get a full visualization. This allows for a full camera fly through and allows you to see the full layout of the aluminum members. I do them (yours truly). The pricing starts at $200, and to start you send me a several photos of the back of your house, and the area where the new structure will be.
and the list goes on