FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What does design/build mean? 
What is the advantage of hiring a design/build remodeling company like WAO Builders?
Do I have to use your blueprints to build my home?
How do I find a contractor I can trust?  
Does WAO Builders warranty their work? 
What information is included in WAO Builder’s proposal?
Should the home owner obtain the permits?
How long does it take to build a custom home?
What does it mean when a contractor says they are licensed, bonded and insured?
Will my project require a permit?
What is green building verses non-green or classical building?
Is it more expensive to remodel or build Green?
Does a homeowner have to have their home certified to be Green?
What is Aging in Place, or Universal Design?
Why would I need to consider Aging in Place or Universal Design modifications now if I am young and able bodied?

What does design/build mean? 

WAO Builders’ team works with you from design through construction.

WAO Builders begins by sitting down with you and one of our designer/architects to develop your designs from your ideas, dreams, and desires. These conceptual drawings will be designed for your needs, planned use for the space, and your stage of life. From these plans our team will develop a first set of preliminary drawings for your review and refinement. The WAO team will work until we’ve captured your vision.  
Once your dreams and vision are transformed to construction drawings we move to product selections, scheduling, and finally construction.
 

What is the advantage of hiring a design/build remodeling company like WAO Builders?

Having one source for the design, engineering, and construction can reduce the total design build time by one to two months and save costs during the project.

When members of the design, engineering, and construction teams work together in the design process many small problems that often arise in the field can be avoided. In addition, the construction team member can assist in value engineering your project in the design phase, saving you thousands of dollars on larger projects. Also our decorators will assist you in product selection while the plans are in development saving more time to final completion.
 

Do I have to use your blueprints to build my home?

No, WAO Builders will build from any plans that the customer has obtained the rights to use.

Often these plans will require review by  an engineer, even though you purchased them from an architectural firm.  
We have two series of “Energy Smart Homes” plans on our website as well as additional “Custom Plans” drawn by several Architects and Designers: All of our drawings can be modified to better meet your needs, or we can draw original plans from scratch.   
 

How do I find a contractor I can trust? 

It is recommended you consider these items:

  1. They must hold a Florida Certified Contractors License. CRC, CBC, or CGC these are (certified residential, building or general contractor). Without one of these licenses they cannot legally obtain permits. WAO Builders Owner holds a CBC license. CBC1257295
  2. They must have adequate liability insurance and worker compensation. They should provide copies for you to keep. They cannot legally obtain permits without insurance. WAO Builders carries two million dollars of liability insurance.
  3. Find out the number of years of experience they have and if they have  experience on similar projects to yours. Look for a licensed contractor with at least 10 years experience in construction if you are considering a large project. Collectively the WAO Builders team has over 100 years experience in construction, (see about use, management team). Each of us have run both residential and commercial remodeling and new construction projects from a few hundred dollars into the millions of dollars.
  4. Ask the contractor to provide a reasonable number of references (at least 3 or more and you should call them all). You may want to ask, If they would use the contractor again? Did they return calls and answer questions? Was the work continuous or were there long runs of inactivity? Was quality up to par? Were excuses made for increasing the total cost? WAO Builders will provide references on request.
  5. Ideally, they should be active in professional associations like NAHB, (National Association of Home Builders), FHBA, ( Florida Home Builders Association), Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, USGBC, (United States Green Building Counsel), NAIPC, (National Aging In Place Council), The BBB ( Better Business Bureau). WAO Builders is a member in good standing with all of the above organizations.
  6. Ideally, they should be invested in their own education and have earned certifications through continuing education like CGP, (Certified Green Professional), CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist), CGR (Certified Graduate Remodeler) or (Certified Graduate Builder).  
  7. The company’s  owner and job superintendent should be accessible to you throughout the project. Do you like them? They may be in your home a long time, trust your gut instincts. If they don’t have time for you now will you get any if needed later? Bill Ockenden and our superintendent will always be available for our clients. We will return all calls and emails and can be reached at bill@waobuilders.com 407-221-8050.
  8. Will the contractor provide a detailed FIRM PRICE Agreement, Specifications, and Scope of Work. The only time WAO will increase our price is if we discover unseen conditions meaning hidden insect, water, or other kinds of damage to the structure that was not visible to be included in the estimating, or if the client requests additional work.

    Many contractors ask for additional fees well into a project because the building department requires additional work they did not include. Beware of contractors who leave items out to come in with a lower bid, planning to add them later. Its common in large jobs that a new electrical service will be required, or the septic system is not large enough for the alterations. Architects rarely include that level of detail.  

    WAO Builders conducts a detailed inspection of your home with all of our trades at the site, so we can provide this information in our proposal. We want all of our proposals to be accurate and honest. WAO Builders will provide a firm price. We will include every item that will be required by the building department in our estimating process. We call this a bid conference and all our trades are required to attend, these can take from 2 to 8 hours to conduct.
  1. Finally be very careful about selecting a contractor due to price. I have seen jobs were one proposal was 30% or even 50% lower than the other bids. In all of these cases they have either walk off the job unfinished, or drastically increased the price for varying reasons. In several of these cases the person was not a licensed contractor and the owner obtained the permits so to move ahead and save cost. Many of these have ended in litigations. I liken this to buying a new corvette for 5,000 cash only in a parking lot, it’s likely not a safe deal to make. 
     
     

Does WAO Builders warranty their work?   

WAO Builders offers a 5 part warranty.

  1. We warrant that we install all products in accordance to manufacturer’s specifications.
  2. We build all elements of our projects to meet or exceed current building code of that municipality at the time of construction.
  3. We use only properly insured state licensed sub contractors for all areas of the project.
  4. We warranty our construction for a minimum of one year. Major structural elements are warranted for 10 years.
  5.  If a product we provided during new construction or remodeling fails under warranty, and it is replaced by the manufacturer, WAO Builders will remove the existing and install the new product without cost to the owner for the life of the manufacturer’s warranty. 

     

What information is included in WAO Builder’s proposal?    

WAO Builders include these main headings as part of our Proposals.

  1. Scope of work - detailed written description of the work to be done.                                                                                                   
  2. Specifications - details of the items to be installed, brand, model, color, left or right hand. We  include everything you will see and may want to select. Like toilets, tubs, sinks, faucets, cabinetry, tops, flooring, windows, lighting fixtures, trim profile and size, paint colors, door shape, closet shelving. Further details like whether wall and ceiling texture will match the existing, and whether exterior textures, profiles, and colors will match the existing. WAO Builders will often attach color photos of many or all items selected along with the manufacturer’s make model and color, so at our final review of your documents and plans you can see all of your selections together. This greatly reduces changes later in the project saving time and money.   
  3. Allowances - Allowances are offered when we are asked to provide a proposal before a customer has made their selections for the products to be installed. This is a list of all of the items we have included in the project. Most importantly this list includes our cost for each item, so you will know exactly how much we assumed a sink, faucet and vanity, etc. will cost.
  4. Agreement - This document covers the general conditions, legal details and explains your rights and risks. Our Agreement includes a Firm Price, payment schedule, intended start date, and estimated time to completion.
  5. The Plans - a set of the final plans, initialed by you and WAO Builders.
 

Should the home owner obtain the permits?

No,  your contractor should always provide all needed permits. Contractors have commercial construction liability insurance and worker compensation insurance that a homeowner does not have. The person that pulls the permits has all legal liability. Your homeowners insurance does not cover you for being a contractor, only pull permits if you intend to do the work yourself. In that case call your insurance company and purchase a rider to provide proper coverage.

 

How long does it take to build a custom home?

Construction time is based on the size and complexity of the home, WAO Builders can build a 2,500 to 5,000 square foot custom home in approximately 5 to 8 months once we have all permitting. 

 

What does it mean when a contractor says they are licensed, bonded, and insured?

Licensing is a way your state, county, or city can track the experience and qualifications of a contractor.

The state of Florida requires passing a two day written examination as a first step to becoming a Certified Contractor in Florida. Before sitting for the exam an applicant will have to prove that they have at least five years experience in construction. Once passing the exam the applicant submits a detailed work history with proof of years experience, liability, and worker compensation insurance to the state. Bonding is an insurance policy that guarantees completion of a project in the event a contractor does not  or cannot complete a project. Bonding is only required in larger commercial or public projects. Many trades people and contractors use these terms incorrectly and claim to be licensed, bonded, and insured when they are actually registered for a specific trade with their county and have insurance. County registration is legal for many trades people like flooring, painting, and handyman work. Anytime a window or door is changed or any structural work is done a State Certified Contractor should be obtaining permits for the work.
 

Will my project require a permit?

In most states structural repair or change requires a permit. In Florida, even replacing a window or exterior door requires a permit because they have to have passed engineering tests for hurricane safety requirements.

 

What is green building verses non-green or classical building?

Green building (also green construction or sustainable building) utilizes design, site selection, demolition, waste management,  processes and materials that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. This practice complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Our goal is to deliver your home or building utilizing materials and techniques that maximize energy and water efficiency, provide healthy indoor air quality, (buy reducing VOC volatile organic compounds and other harmful chemicals often found in construction materials), and to control moisture (to control mold). These practices maximize building life, reduce maintenance costs (by selecting materials that are insect and water damage resistant). The ultimate goal is to reduce operating and ownership costs of these structures.

Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.  At WAO Builders we are educated in and offer Green Building methods and practices at any level. 

  

Is it more expensive to remodel or build Green?

Some Green Building selections a customer can elect may have an initial higher cost, like spray foam verses batt insulation. By selecting closed cell spry foam, you will reduce the air and moisture infiltration by closing small leaks into the structure, saving energy. The roof and wall system will be strengthened significantly by the bonding and structural property’s of the foam. As a result a smaller air conditioning unit can be installed saving additional cost. The duct system will run through conditioned space rather than non conditioned space (like in a hot attic), this too will reduce the time the system operates to heat or cool a building further reducing energy costs. When putting a pencil to all the saving verses the initial increases cost, most home or building owners will realize an immediate or reasonable time to payback. Many Green elements like selecting carpeting without harmful chemical off gassing or that is from recycled materials has no increased cost.  It just takes an effort to ferret out these suppliers and the best products. WAO Builders has established relationships with suppliers of all materials needed.

 

Does a homeowner have to have their home certified to be Green?

No! WAO Builders can utilize all or some elements of Green Building as you selected and only have the building certified if you feel it offers you value. If you decide that is important to you we need to start that process at the beginning of design. A certifying agent will have to conduct a few inspections during construction to be able to certify the structures level of Green.  

  

What is Aging in Place, or Universal Design?

According to the Remodelers Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “aging-in-place means remaining in one’s home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level. It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout one’s maturing years, and the ability to enjoy the familiar daily rituals and the special events that enrich all our lives. It means the reassurance of being able to call a house a ‘home’ for a lifetime.”

What are some examples of modifications that a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) professional could put in my home?

  • Wider door and hallways to make home accessible
  • Eliminate the step at, at least one entryway
  • Easily reachable electrical outlets and switches, and planed adequate lighting
  • Walk-in showers (no curb or step)
  • Handheld, flexible shower heads, seats in showers
  • Sliding or revolving shelves for cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Lever-operated door knobs and faucets that are easy to open, turn on and off
  • Handrails on both sides of staircases and for outside steps
  • Grab bars in the bathroom (including by the bathtub, shower, and toilet) Available in designer styles

     

Why would I need to consider Aging in Place or Universal Design modifications now if I am young and able bodied?

In new construction Aging in Place design elements adds very little, if any, cost to the construction. When remodeling a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom suite, these design elements add little to no cost. Because they add so much value to a home when needed it just makes good sense to include them. Modifying an existing home while you are young is just planning ahead. It may be sooner than you think that some or all of these design elements become needed. 

All of these elements are offered in designer products today and all look great. You home will look like a normal home with high style that will meet any decorating theme you like. It will however function better for everyone living or visiting your home. Older relatives that visit or you invite to move in with you will have fewer or no barriers to movement through the home. Many homes are becoming mutigenerational.