National Home Improvement and Contractor Services Blog: by Joshua Gomes

2012 photo of Joshua outside of a new custom home he built in Orlando
Josh Gomes: Veteran Builder and Renovation Expert

Hi, my name is Josh Gomes and welcome to my contractor services and home improvement blog. I started this website in the hope of providing as much accurate information as possible for both professionals and novices that want to learn more about the residential remodeling and local contracting services industries. If you’re interested in new construction or the remodeling and home alteration industry, this is the place to be. From time to time, I will be inviting contracting professionals I know from all over the country to contribute their specific technical knowledge and expertise to the blog.

Joshua Gomes: Jack of all trades
Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My background: I am a well seasoned custom home builder and renovation expert. I designed and fabricated very high-end custom residential homes for many, many years in the Fort Lauderdale and central Florida area. During that time I took on many different general contractor and subcontracting roles from excavation, monolithic or stem-wall foundations, framing construction, installing windows and doors to setting kitchen cabinets and everything in between. I was especially interested in the window replacement industry and also had a natural attraction toward renovating kitchens and bathrooms, so much so, in 1981 I became an active member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

Yeah that was me, jack of all trades through necessity! If the work needed to get done on time or there was a delay due to bad weather or bank draws from the construction loan, I put on whatever hat I needed to to complete the task.  If there was a section of drywall that needed to be taped and sanded for the painters to come in and start, I was the sheet rock contractor. I think you get the picture. For those of you who are first time visitors, do-it-yourself weekend warriors or complete newbies to the commercial/residential construction and remodeling  niche, I will follow with a generic overview of the process and the types of contractors and services usually associated with new construction and renovation work.

Architectural Plans and Design
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Architects, Civil Engineers and Home Designers Contacting an architect or a local home design service is usually the first step one needs in the design and building process. Custom architectural plans and specifications are needed for several reasons.

  • To obtain a myriad of estimates from various subcontractors who will be involved in all stages of the project.
  • For initial building permit submittal to your local building and zoning departments. In areas devoid of municipal utilities such sanitary sewer and potable water, such a plan would be required at the regional health department for health code compliance.
  • To acquire an A-2 plot survey and engineered septic design. Both are usually required would also be needed in such a location and would be prepared by a civil engineering firm certified and licensed to do so.
  • To provide the excavation, foundation, framing, roofing, plumbing, electrical, security system, exterior siding and mechanical HVAC contractors with a 2-dimensional drawing of the finished structure. Some home design plans even come with a landscape plan showing where all the future trees, shrubs, plantings and retaining walls will be placed on the jobsite.

Excavation Contractors Excavators arrive at the work site fairly early on in the process as many other trades rely on the site work contractor to prepare the land for the block or poured concrete foundation workers. The guys who dig for your crawl space or stem walls are also in charge of having all utilities in the area marked out well in advance of any on-site excavating processes beginning. Call 811 is a national organization that is responsible for marking out such utility and sewer locations. The YouTube video below shows how to fully excavate for a new poured-concrete foundation, which is not the standard approach in Florida but is in many other areas of the country such as the Northeast and Atlantic state regions.

Sitework experts also install city utilities and the schedule 40 piping required for underground access to electricity, phone and Internet service. City water, sanitary sewer connections, dry wells, footing and curtain drainage are also covered by the excavation company. Next time I will be moving ahead and discussing what to expect when hiring concrete foundation contractors for repair work and new construction. Be safe out there!