Remodeling and Home Design
(253) 851-1117
See our gallery of custom home design and remodels!
See our gallery of custom home design and remodels!
Harrison Homes - voted Best of South Sound 2013
Custom Homes and Remodels
Harrison Homes - "Where people are our business."

Frequently Asked Questions



Harrison Homes has a solid reputation in of excellence in custom home remodels and additions.

Harrison Homes has a solid reputation in of excellence in custom home remodels and additions.

Before purchasing a home that needs remodeling or a piece of view/waterfront property, should we talk with a builder?
Yes! A builder will help you analyze the "real" possibilities of remodeling or building on the site by taking your budget into account, probability of permitting, approximate cost to build or remodel, and in general, give you an overall opinion of the property's potential. Contact any of Harrison Homes' project managers; they will be more than happy to meet with you and your realtor or architect for an on-site visit. This is complimentary and without obligation.
Do I need a feasibility study on our land or home before purchasing?
Yes. We strongly recommend a feasibility study prior to any purchase. It is important to fully understand the use of your land, whether you are buying an existing home with the intent of remodeling it or planning to build a new home. A thorough study should be completed to assure you of an informed decision prior to closing.
When and how would I request a feasibility study?
We recommend you include in your Purchase Agreement a general feasibility clause for at least 30 days; more time might be necessary depending on the issues. Once your Purchase Agreement is signed, we will put you in contact with a pre-construction consultant. Together, we will meet with you on site; define the scope of work; prepare a proposal for review, and coordinate the entire process to ensure you have all the necessary questions answered before you purchase the property.
Should we find an architect/designer and have plans drawn up before meeting with a builder?
Most builders, Harrison Homes included, have architects / designers that they can recommend. However, some homeowners have a particular architect or designer in mind because they have seen and admire their work. Regardless, the following are some guidelines we think lead to exceptional design and effective cost and time management:
  • Always have your feasibility work completed prior to beginning the design phase. Even the very basic design elements may be significantly impacted by this information.
  • Select a targeted budget that you are financially comfortable with to make sure the design is compatible.
  • Select a builder as early as possible in the process to "team up" with you and your architect or designer. Better decisions are made with all parties giving their insight into the project.
  • Just prior to the plans entering the final drafting phase, we suggest you pause and allow the builder to "guesstimate" the construction cost. If changes are necessary to bring the project back on budget it is a good time to make them.
What is the best way to select a builder we can trust?
We are amazed at the number of people who choose a builder for a major project without doing the basics. Here are some must do's:
  • Ask for a previous customer reference list and make the calls. Ask lots of questions.
  • Talk with local bankers, lumber yards, plumbers, electricians, architects/designers, painters, etc. Describe your project in detail (i.e. level of quality, location, what you are looking for in a builder). They will suggest some builders. When one or two names consistently pop-up—those are the builders you should contact.
  • Visit actual building sites under construction. Note cleanliness, attention to detail, etc.
  • Visit completed homes when the owner is present and ask questions.
  • Finally, obtain some of the builder's subcontractor names and phone numbers and call them! Does he pay on time? How long have they worked with the builder (the longer the better)? Does this builder do the type of project you are planning to do?
Why doesn't Harrison Homes quote prices per sq. ft.?
  1. Every building site and literally the hundreds, if not thousands, of choices made by the owner are what determine the real price per square foot (sq. ft.) of a custom home versus a spec. home in a subdivision that is built over and over.

  2. The design, plate heights, number of corners, roof pitch, complexity of the roof,, volume, number of stories, decks, soffits, patios and steepness of lot are just some of the variables that have a big impact on cost.

  3. It is very easy for a builder to quote a price per square foot as a "hook" when the actual price per sq. ft. may vary considerably depending on:

    • What the final specifications are for the entire project. What items are excluded from sq. ft. price?
    • What site costs are included in the sq. ft. price calculation? Are wells, retaining walls, landscaping, driveways, septic systems, installation of utilities, site clearing and the hauling of soils and gravels in and out of the site included?
    • Does sq. ft. calculation include exterior dimensions; garage square footage, storage areas, unfinished areas (what does unfinished mean?)? Are decks (covered and uncovered) included? Are patio areas, fencing, driveways, and soffits (enclosed or open) included?

  4. Best advice is not to select builder on the basis of a "guesstimate" at the price per sq. ft; it is like buying a car by the pound.

  5. The best way to select your builder is to make a preliminary choice of a builder by getting to know them and what services will they offer up front without obligation. It is also important to review the builder's bidding, invoicing, budget review and change order processes together with copies of their contract documentation. What is their mark- up on materials, labor, supplies, etc? Call references and discuss process, value, budget overruns, communication, integrity and would you use them again.

  6. Once the preliminary choice of a builder is made, set a budget you are financially comfortable with for all aspects of construction. Then, with your builder, address all necessary site issues, complete the design of the home and initiate shopping to select all products you want in the house that are consistent with your budget. After all bids are in and reviewed and you are on or close to your projected budget, then and only then should you sign a contract.
What questions should I ask my builder before I begin?
  1. Are you a fixed price or cost plus general contractor and why is your system in my best interest?

  2. Do you have past client references I can contact to learn more about you and your company? Can I have a tour of some houses you have built in the area so I can see your work in person?

  3. Please describe specific actions you take to demonstrate to me that you are my advocate from the beginning to the end of my project?

  4. How do you manage the home design process? Is the design contract with the designer/architect or with you?

  5. Will you require I sign a contract and pay you a non-refundable deposit up front? If things don't work out, do I get a refund?

  6. How much participation will I have in the selection of the products going into my house? How do you help me make those decisions?

  7. How will you establish my construction budget so I know how much my project is going to cost? Can you provide me with a copy of your budget or cost estimate form?

  8. If allowances are used how will I know what I will be getting?

  9. Will you show me the actual bids you receive for my project?

  10. What is the hourly rate you will charge me for your employees and how much do you mark up their labor?

  11. How will I know the actual price of materials going into my project and how much do you mark the materials up? Do you provide copies of the actual invoices from sub-contractors and suppliers for my review?

  12. Please describe your invoicing process. Can you provide me with a copy of a typical customer invoice?

  13. What do you do to insure that the sub-contractors and suppliers on our project are viable? Are they insured, bonded, licensed, etc.? How do you make sure they pay their bills and Washington State sales tax?

Harrison Homes has a solid reputation in of excellence in custom home remodels and additions.

If any you have any specific questions that aren't included here, please visit our Contact page. Any of our project managers will be happy to assist you!