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The Facts About Building an Addition to Your Home: An Interview with Scott Reinhardt of Rhino Construction

By Scott Reinhardt

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We primarily work in the residential market building custom homes and remodeling homes. The remodeling includes adding additional footage and reorganizing existing spaces in our clients' homes. We also manage projects for other general contractors.

Can you list some of the most popular types of additions that people are building in Southern California now?

Since the beginning of time, kitchen and bathrooms are always the most frequently remodeled and updated rooms in the home. In today's market, I encounter a lot of folks considering another master suite in their homes. I think this is closely related to the economic times and families coming together in one home or moving an elderly family member into their home.

What are the key things that homeowners should consider before building an addition?

Work with professionals. Every addition starts with your local planning department. Make sure that the addition you're considering meets the setback requirements, building ordinances, neighborhood Design Review Committee requirements. You want to ensure you know all the requirements prior to starting any design work. Designing an addition and then redesigning because you didn't do your homework can be frustrating and expensive.

What is one of the biggest challenges that you've seen people face during the building process?

Hiring the wrong people. We've all heard the story of the client that hired the unlicensed guy to save money. This is the guy that always seems to want a bunch of money upfront as well. Clients get blinded by the fact that this person is so much cheaper, but in the end it often leads to problems either finishing the project, being done incorrectly or running out of money before the finish line. There is no recourse when you work with an unlicensed guy. I call him a guy rather than a contractor because if he doesn't have a license, he's not a contractor.

How do you help homeowners solve that challenge?

We have a unique policy at Rhino Construction. We don't ask for money upfront, even though the law allows me to ask for 10% or $1,000, whichever is less. I want to remove that worry from the clients. We don't ask for a deposit or any money upfront but on the flip side, we invoice every week for the work that was done. We never invoice the full amount from last week though so we can allow our customers to be in a comfortable position rather than a position of paying for something that isn't completed. This policy serves both the client and the contractor in a safe position.

What advice do you have for a homeowner who wants an addition that will really expand their living space?

Be mindful of over designing for the neighborhood. We always try and direct our clients to be aware of the other homes in their neighborhood and the costs per square foot on the resale side. Sometimes adding a lot of footage does not make sense, especially if you already have a larger home compared to others in the neighborhood. Speak to the local real estate professionals about the resale value so you can make an informed decision.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

We are available by phone at 805 530-0970 or 818 402-4629.

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