All the Steps to a Successful Cast Iron Pipe Replacement Project

If you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of needing to have your cast iron pipes replaced, you might feel some dread and anxiety about what the entire project entails. While it can feel overwhelming to think about the expense and disruption such a project will cause, we’re here to help walk you through everything you need to know about successfully replacing your cast iron pipes. At BigFoot Construction, we know how to coordinate all the players needed to get your rusted iron pipes replaced as smoothly as possible.

What to know about cast iron pipe replacement

Throughout Miami-Dade County, many older homes are equipped with cast iron pipe plumbing systems. Unfortunately, cast iron pipes can begin corroding within as little as 25 years and may wear our entirely within 40-50 years. To make this problem even more challenging, many of these rusty pipes are sitting beneath your home encased in slab of concrete foundation.

If you find yourself needing to replace your cast iron pipes, here are some steps you can expect your contractor to walk you through.

Step 1: Evaluate your foundation

Do you have a basement or a crawlspace? If so, replacing your pipes may be a whole lot easier as plumbers will have more direct access to the cast iron pipes. If your pipes are encased in concrete, however, repairing or replacing pipe sections requires jackhammering through your floor and the concrete.

Step 2: Assess the damage

Will you be able to make a spot repair or is more in-depth replacement required? Your contractor, plumber, or other skilled specialist will look for signs of water leaks and damage and help locate damaged or rusted areas. If the problem is more pervasive, which is often the case with cast iron pipes, entire sections of the pipe will need to be replaced.

Step 3: Make the repair/replacement

For homes with concrete slabs, a jackhammer or concrete-cutting saw will need to be used to break through the concrete. Beneath the cement is where the rusted iron pipe will be buried in sand or gravel. Once the pipe is exposed and evaluated for decay, the old pipes will be replaced by polyvinyl chloride PVC) pipes. They will then be reburied and new concrete will be poured.

Step 4: Clean up

Throughout the process, your crew will do everything they can to minimize the mess and disruption to your daily life. It is a big job, but at the end of the day, your pipes will be functioning properly and you won’t even know any work had been done.

If you have questions about cast iron replacement in your South Florida home, schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns.

How Soon Can I Start My Residential Construction Project?

It’s a question we get all the time: “How Soon Can I Start My Residential Construction Project?”

If you’ve been dreaming about a new residential construction project for quite some time and made the decision to commit a budget and resources to making it a reality, the waiting to finally kick-off construction can make you feel as impatient as a child waiting for their next birthday to roll around.

The good news is that once you’ve committed to taking the leap into the project, there are just a few key steps to take before officially getting started. Let’s walk through what that general process looks like:

3 key steps to starting my residential construction project

  • Create and finalize plans with an architect – Engaging an architect early in the construction process is important for ensuring that your vision is executed in a way that is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and complies with building codes and any community-specific requirements. Together, your architect, engineers, contractor, and any other project stakeholders, will walk with you through several phases of design and planning before committing to the final design plan.
  • Secure necessary permits – Once the plans are finalized, your contractor will secure the necessary permits required to get the job done. Permitting requirements can vary significantly from county to county and municipality to municipality, so the exact timeline for your project is dependent upon your location. Your contractor will be able to advise you on what to expect based on where you live.
  • Start construction – Your plans are set, approvals have been granted, and now the fun can begin! Once construction kicks off, your timeline for completion can be impacted by several variables. For a look at some of those, review our post on how long it takes to finish a project.

Ready to start yours? Schedule a consultation today to discuss the details of your project plans.



Should You Hide Your Budget From Your Contractor?

The short answer: No, you shouldn’t hide your budget from your contractor.

The long answer: Here goes…

First things first, don’t hire a contractor if you can’t trust them to put your interests first. If you’re fearful they’re going to try to work your project for all it’s worth, neither of you will be happy with the outcome (or the entire process, for that matter).

While it’s understandable to feel reluctant about sharing your budget, it’s the best way to ensure that the project you want is the one that ultimately gets built. Even better is that it’s built with an eye towards creating the biggest savings and efficiencies while minimizing any impact on the end result.

In short, by not hiding your budget from your contractor, the project you want is the project you’ll get at a price you can afford. Here’s how it’s done.

Taking a Design-Build Approach

Engaging your contractor early is one of the best ways to get the biggest bang for your buck and have your project completed on time. Here’s why. In a design-build project delivery model, you, as the homeowner, team up with your general contractor who serves as the main point of contact for your entire project. From the outset, your contractor is able to see your big-picture vision and help you nail down specifics that are realistic and feasible for your budget and goals.

For example, if you’re interested in high-end finishes but they put you way over-budget, your contractor will be able to offer you reasonable alternatives that achieve a very similar outcome yet still fit within your budget. By looking holistically at your project, your contractor can help you determine those areas that offer the biggest savings with the least impact on the end result.

Doesn’t this sound better than getting half-way through your project only to see your budget go bust?

Sharing your budget with a contractor you trust sets your entire project up for success. It also helps minimize unwanted surprises and puts you on a clear path to timely completion. If you have questions about the design-build process, get in touch at 305-762-9520.

(Curious what to look for when hiring a residential contractor? Read this first)




How Long Will it Take to Finish My Residential Project?

Home renovation projects – from impact window installation to residential additions, bathrooms, and kitchen upgrades – follow similar processes for ensuring timely construction and quality deliverables that exceed customer expectations. While a construction project timeline is dependent upon the specific project (among other things), certain factors can influence how long it will take to finish your project. Below we’ll discuss just a few of those variables and how they might play out in a home renovation project.

Factors that can influence your construction project timeline 

Location – You may not like to hear this, but your location can have an impact on the overall timeline for your project. For example, the process for some projects can take longer in Coral Gables than in Palmetto Bay even if the projects are identical. Be sure to ask about any potential delays or hurdles that could be incurred just based on your zip code.  

Final design – Nailing down the final design can be a lengthy process for some, while others are able to move more quickly. If you are certain about the items you’re looking to incorporate into your design ahead of time – that will help speed up the process. Changes made into the process will inevitably slow down your timeline.

Revisions – Revisions are a common occurrence during residential construction projects and generally result from either an inspector’s request or a correction needing to be made to an architect’s original plan. The process for revisions includes collaboration between the architect, engineers, and contractor to make the modification(s). The revision is then resubmitted to the county for them to approve or deny before work can continue. The severity of the revision and other factors can influence how long of a construction delay there is.

Finishes – Some homeowners are surprised by the amount of decisions they have to make during a home renovation or construction project. Even more surprising to them is how a delay in making decisions on finishes like fixtures, faucets, and even flooring can impact how long it will take to complete the project. Delaying decisions on finishes (or changing one’s mind) can delay the project, especially if materials need to be special ordered.

Ultimately, your goals and needs for your project will be a leading factor in determining your construction project timeline. If you have questions about your specific plans, schedule a consultation today to discuss all the details you need to ensure a successful project.




3 Questions to Consider Before Building a Residential Addition

Many residential additions arise out of the need for more space or as a way to add more functionality to your home’s current design. Residential additions can also be a great way to add value to your home. As you make plans to add on to your home, there are some important questions to consider first. Here are three big ones to ask yourself:

What addition can you build?

It can be easy to let grand visions run wild – not to mention incredibly fun –  but one of the first questions to consider before building a residential addition is if there are any zoning or building restrictions on your specific lot or in your community. For example, in Coral Gables, all home projects must first go before the Gables Board of Architects before being approved. This is to maintain the traditional aesthetic of the community as well as ensure consistency with regulations and stylistic elements. Having a qualified architect on board is a good idea to advise on processes like this as well as help bring your overall vision to life.

What architectural features do you want your residential addition to include?

Adding an addition shouldn’t compromise the aesthetics of your home. You want it to complement the existing structure and features both inside and out, which means paying attention to how the roof, shingles, and siding will blend, as well as interior flooring transitions, beams, posts, windows, and doors.

How much will your residential addition cost?

In many ways, your budget will dictate the scope of your project. Make sure your expectations and budget are in alignment for the addition itself, but also for the longer term cost increases that may come from the addition in the form of increased energy bills, property taxes, and other ways.

If you’re looking to build a residential addition onto your home, our experienced and reliable team is ready to construct a seamless extension to your space that is completely customized to your wants and needs.

Call us at 305-790-1722 to schedule a free consultation.


Why Impact Windows are Worth the Upgrade in Your Home

As homeowners, we do a lot of prioritizing, emotional investing, and budget balancing when it comes to determining where and how we want to spend our money when making improvements to our home. Some upgrades may be considered more “fun” (e.g., a new kitchen or an addition), while others we end up making out of practical necessity (e.g., replacing rusted cast iron pipes).

Depending on who you’re talking to, impact windows might fall somewhere between the two. While they can be very aesthetically pleasing and completely transform the way you think about and prepare for hurricane season (an intangible many of us can’t value highly enough!), they’re also incredibly practical from a budget perspective. Not only do you save money on potential hurricane damage, you also reduce energy costs and homeowners insurance as well as increase the resale value of your home (need more reasons? Here are five).

Impact Windows: Worth the upgrade?

As you consider the best ways to improve your home, impact windows should be right up near the top of your list. While, yes, they can be on the pricey side, the returns in terms of peace of mind, efficiency, safety, and overall savings are enough to make it worth the investment. Not to mention, real estate agents frequently cite it as one of the best things you can do to speed up the sale – and asking price – of your home.

The decision to upgrade your home’s windows to impact glass windows is certainly a big one that brings many questions to mind – especially here in South Florida. At BigFoot Construction, we specialize in installing impact windows and are always ready to answer your questions.

If you’ve been considering making the upgrade in your home, give us a call at 305-790-1722 to learn more about the benefits you’ll reap by installing impact windows. With hurricane season upon us, it’s important to make the leap as early as possible – to be sure your windows are in place before any storm approaches. Give yourself at least 6 weeks lead time.




Your Guide to Residential Preconstruction

Here’s a sobering statement: The overall success of a renovation or a remodel can be largely determined by decisions and actions taken well before the first hammer even hits the nail. It might sound surprising, but that’s just how important residential preconstruction is to the scope of your project.

Let’s dig into the specifics of what pre-construction services entail and why this step is so critical to your residential construction project – in Miami and beyond.

What are Residential Preconstruction Services?

Before your project gets off the ground, some serious planning needs to take place. How long this step takes depends on the size and complexity of your project, and it’s generally conducted in coordination with architects, engineers, inspectors, design consultants, builders, and, of course, you, the homeowner, and any other project stakeholders. The primary goal of pre-construction is to set the scope, schedule, and budget for the project — and gives you time to ask all the important questions. Pre-construction includes the following items, among others:

  • Site analysis – Physically review the site and create a general site master plan.
  • Permits and approvals – Ensure plans receive necessary approvals and project permits to proceed with the build. These vary from city to city and municipality to municipality, so it’s important to understand local processes and allow adequate time to secure permits.
  • Value engineering – A project’s scope can quickly surpass the available budget if a well-defined project estimate is not used. Value engineering helps flag opportunities to substitute products, materials, and systems to better fit the budget while still maintaining original function and design intent.
  • Buildability review – Clarify details, design documents, and decisions.
  • Budget analysis – Align project goals and expectations with scope and projected costs.
  • Scheduling and logistics – Proper planning and scheduling ensures that deadlines are met and the project progresses as expected.

“What value do pre-construction services add to my build?”

Building a home or undertaking a remodeling project is exciting. That’s part of why we love our job so much. But failing to adequately plan and prepare can spell big trouble to your budget, timeline, and overall expectations for the project. It’s important to resist the temptation to jump right to construction and renovation work with the thought that you can make important decisions on the fly. It just doesn’t work that way in residential construction. Nor should it.

Residential preconstruction planning allows you to see a full picture of your project’s scope, budget, and schedule while also bringing to light any anticipated challenges or red flags that could be detrimental to the project.

The foundation of a strong build rests on strong plans. Make sure you get your project off to the best start with pre-construction services — and take the time to make sure you have the right residential contractor for the job.

If you have more questions about what residential preconstruction is and why it’s invaluable to a build, give us a call at 305-790-1722 to discuss.


What You Need to Know About Impact Windows

As a homeowner in South Florida, you have several options when it comes to protecting your home from damaging hurricane winds and flying debris. While plywood may be an inexpensive way to protect your windows during a storm, there are better – and more convenient, attractive, and technologically sound – methods to safeguard your home. Installing impact resistant glass windows is one of them.

Impact windows are becoming more commonplace across South Florida not only because they’re extremely effective, but also because of building codes that stipulate new constructions be equipped with hurricane shutters or impact windows. Impact windows also do more than just protect your home from storms. They help reduce energy costs, noise pollution and add value to your home. In fact, there are quite a few things that are not as well-known about Impact Windows that may help you as you decide whether to add them to your home.

Impact windows and hurricane windows are not the same thing

While the terms may be used interchangeably by some, impact windows and hurricane windows differ in some key ways, namely the level of resistance they offer. Hurricane windows offer less insulation and their primary function is to resist wind damage. They do little in the way of protecting against projectiles (or other unwanted intruders for that matter, including noise intrusion). Read: not as hurricane proof as you may want when storm season gets near.

Impact window types are differentiated by their laminate procedure

There are several types of impact windows on the market, which are identified by the way the laminated glass panes are bonded together with the interlayer. The two most common types consist of either multiple layers of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) sandwiched between sheets of glass, which handle smaller projectile impacts very well, or PET laminated glass combined with PVB-treated glass. This option makes for very strong glazing but also comes at a higher price tag.

Impact windows must be paired with stronger window frames

If you’re installing impact windows, it’s better to replace the entire window system rather than try to retrofit. Impact windows will not work as designed if they are not secured to equally strong window frames to help ensure stability.

Installing impact windows in your home is a great way to protect and add immediate value to your property. If you’re interested in talking further about adding impact windows to your home, give us a call today. We’d be happy to do a site visit and provide an estimate.

3 Upgrades That Give a Major Boost to Your Home’s Value

Investing in home improvement projects creates value in two key ways: first, it provides for personal enjoyment while you live there and then, if the renovation is done well, it should increase the future resale value.

If you’re looking to make an upgrade that will reap significant returns down the road, focusing on kitchens, windows, and bathrooms are always worth considering. Here’s why:

Kitchen upgrades

For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where families gather and where guests tend to congregate. Kitchen remodels can also be expensive and disruptive to daily life, which is all the more reason future homebuyers will appreciate it – by making the kitchen the focus of your home improvement project, you’ve done the dirty work for them! Fresh, modernized kitchens consistently do well for resale, and if done right, it’s possible to recoup nearly all or more of your investment.

Window replacement

Replacing old, inefficient windows are important value-adds to homes regardless of your location. In Miami Dade County, however, even more important is replacing outdated standard windows with ultra-durable impact windows. Not only do these windows offer superior protection from storm damage, they also save homeowners money on insurance premiums and energy costs.

Bathroom remodels

Upgrading bathrooms also bring a strong return on investment when done tastefully. Even small upgrades like replacing a vanity or modernizing hardware, paint, or tiling can make a big impact. Quality executed bathroom renovations have the ability to transform your home and your experience within your home.

As you choose to make improvements to your Miami home, consider Bigfoot Construction for the job. We’ll meet with you to discuss your plans and what you want to achieve with your renovation. After the consultation, finalized design plans, and the necessary permits have been obtained, we’ll get to work with efficient and quality workmanship. Call us today at 305-790-1722 to learn more about how we can help with your specific project needs.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Installing Impact Windows

In Florida, what might feel like the calm before the storm can really be the storm before the calm for those rushing to get impact windows installed before hurricane season arrives. But in their haste to install impact windows in their South Florida home, common mistakes can be made. Make sure you take a breath now so you can avoid these three common installation mistakes that many homeowners succumb to.

Forgetting to secure a permit when installing impact windows

Building codes and permitting requirements vary from city to city and county to county. Before you install new impact windows in your home, it’s important to understand the permitting and approval process specific to your location. Your residential contractor will be a valuable resource in helping you navigate this process. In fact, an experienced contractor will simply take care of it for you, but it is still wise to understand the process.

Going the DIY route or hiring an inexperienced impact window installer

While you might feel emboldened by a recent DIY home improvement project, installing impact windows is not a job to be taken lightly (nor is it a light job – impact windows are heavy!). Proper installation requires precision every step of the way – from accurate measurements to exact care with secure installation. This is one job that should only be entrusted to an experienced impact window installer.

Relying on cost as your primary decision factor

The bottom line can be hard to get past when making a decision about something like an impact window investment, but relying on cost as your sole decision factor should be avoided whenever possible. Consider things like the overall aesthetic and ease of use. While you might not think they’re a big deal now, it may be worth paying a little more now to get the right windows than decide to replace the entire windows a few years down the road.

Make sure your impact windows are installed correctly and efficiently. Give us a call today at 305-790-1722 to get started.