2323 and the coming year will see us continuing to invest in our homes. That may mean taking the leap from couch desk to proper desk, perfecting your living room gym, buying more plants to add a little nature to your space, or trying out any other number of strategies to bolster the comfort, functionality, and boundaries of our living spaces.
“The changes to our homes brought on by the pandemic fall into two categories: stopgap measures that involve short-term updates and adjustments, and lifestyle changes that will likely stick with us in some form,” says Eve Epstein, vice president content, media, of the home and design website Hunker. “Of course, most people don’t have a bunch of extra rooms lying around, just waiting to be converted into offices or classrooms or yoga studios. So another big storyline has been solutions for multi-functional spaces.”
For many, simplifying our spaces will allow us to view our homes as retreats from, rather than sources of, stress. “People are taking the time to clear out all those extra items that they realize they don’t really need and focus on what makes them happy in their home,” says Bobby Berk, interior designer and co-host of Netflix’s Queer Eye. Not only will people seek to declutter, but they will be more mindful about the products they buy, investing in quality over quantity.
“People are taking the time to clear out all those extra items that they realize they don’t really need and focus on what makes them happy in their home.” —Bobby Berk
In fact, investing in quality items for the home has perhaps never been more important than now for those who find themselves newly working from home—and needing to cultivate a remote office environment from which to log on. “Working from home—for those of us fortunate enough to be able to do our jobs remotely—is here to stay,” says Epstein, who notes that Hunker has seen a huge demand from its audience for desks, so much so that retailers have been struggling to keep them in stock. To address demand, office furniture suppliers have pivoted from fulfilling bulk orders for companies to small orders from weary workers sick of typing from their couches, beds, or baths.
“There’s a new wave of dual-purpose furniture, and I’m seeing more investment in the crossover between good, well-built staples, like a dining table to anchor a room that can also be used as a desk,” says Larry Cohn, principal architect at Shadow Architects in New York. “If your space is really tight, or you have the opportunity to create a separate room for work by installing a fold-away bed that can be a desk area during the day, then go for it.” Indeed, the wall bed market is expected to grow from nearly $1.45 billion to $2.34 billion by the end of 2026, indicating that we can expect rooms to continue prioritizing their multi-functional, transformative potential.
By maximizing the square footage in our homes with functional furniture intended to serve our varying needs (like by working in the same room where we sleep and talking to our therapists at the kitchen table), the struggle to maintain boundaries between the workspace and personal space is real. That’s why next year, we’ll be using technology to create a mental barrier between work and rest when a physical one isn’t possible. “You can engage all five senses to create boundaries for a clear separation between work and life,” says interior designer Laura Britt, president and managing principal at Britt Design Group in Austin. One way she recommends doing this is by “scene setting” with light. “Lighting can be used to signal your brain that work is done for the day, or that it’s time to sleep,” she says. A slew of new smart lighting products slated for a 2024 release from Dyson, Phillips, Lutron, and Bios Lighting will make it easy to flip the switch to “relax mode” when the time is right.
Sound—or lack thereof—can also help set the right mood. Razer, Jabra, and Anker have all released noise-canceling headphones in the last quarter of the year, and Bose will introduce a new pair meant to work as well on your run as on your next conference call. Loftie and Hatch, meanwhile, launched alarm clocks that double as white noise machines in April and May, respectively, indicating that many of our devices are becoming as multi-purpose as our spaces.
In addition to tech, many folks are investing in art as a way to set a calming mood in their homes, says Jeanne Anderson, senior vice president and general manager of online art gallery and artist network Saatchi Art, which saw an “enormous increase” in sales this year. “A well-designed, harmonious environment can absolutely contribute to overall mental health. Abstract art, in particular, is popular for that reason—gentle shapes, brushstrokes, and soft colors can be deeply soothing and help you relax in your room,” she says. To help clients find the art to best meet their emotional needs, Saatchi launched the Art for Your Mood collection this fall.
“2024 will continue the trend that started in 2023 with people investing into renovating and decorating their spaces,” says Julie Matrat, senior vice president and general manager at global art marketplace Society6. The past year has led many to view the home in a different light (perhaps even literally with lighting upgrades). Into 2021, we’ll continue thinking creatively about how to transform the spaces where we spend so much of our time—pandemic or not—into the sanctuaries that truly support our multifaceted lives.
Spring is the perfect time to remodel your home in New York City. With a little planning and preparation, you can make your home more comfortable and enjoyable for you and your family.
Inaccuracies Due to Overbidding
When you overbid a job – meaning you estimate that it will require more materials or labor hours than it realistically calls for – you’re likely to lose out on a lot of projects.
If you’re worried about the cost of materials or unsure of how long it will take your team to complete the work, you might be tempted to put a high price tag on your proposal just in case. But general contractors closely compare the bids they receive from subcontractors for an idea of price ranges, and many of them also perform their own takeoffs to check measurements. If your bid comes in significantly higher than others, the job will go to a lower bidder, and you’ll be back to searching for other projects.
Inaccuracies Due to Underbidding
Underbidding can win you the job, but you shortchange yourself in the process. When you underbid a project, you’re held to the quote you originally provided even if the job costs more than you anticipated. So you won’t recoup the cost of any materials that are more expensive than you planned for or any added manpower or overtime – these costs will come out of your pocket.
An exception to this is change orders. When plans change in the midst of a project, you’ll have the opportunity to reevaluate your estimate and provide a new quote for the changed work – but again, if you underbid on the change order, you are responsible for covering any extra costs.
There might be times when it’s worth it for your overall business strategy to intentionally underbid a project, which we’ll discuss later. But remember, in order to underbid on purpose, you still need to have a strong handle on what an accurate estimate looks like for the job.
Developing a Positive Reputation with Contractors
If you consistently submit accurate, professional proposals to Contractors, they’ll begin to take notice. General contractors measure success on the same things you do – time and monetary efficiency – just on a larger scale and with more moving parts.
Your accurate bid means they can spend less time checking your estimate – they’ve worked with you enough to know that you have a good grasp on the cost of getting the job done without price gouging, and this way your company can give the Contractor peace of mind.
When a Contractor knows they can trust you to bid the job correctly and deliver on your estimate, you can expect to win more jobs from them.
Saving Time with Accurate Estimates
Bidding accurately is also a simple time saver for your construction company. An accurate estimate allows you to order the right amount of materials – no scrambling to source more supplies or find storage for a surplus, and it keeps your crew schedules on track.
When one job is bid accurately, your time is freed up to evaluate other projects and keep a steady flow of work for your team.
Knowing When to Aim for Submitting the Lowest Bid
If you’re trying to break into a new area of specialization and get a foot in the door, underbidding can be one way to catch the attention of the general contractor. This could be the case if you’ve expanded to a new trade and your team doesn’t have many projects under their belt, or if you’re trying to get into government contracting, where those with the lowest responsible bid tend to win.
In these instances, the main goal might be adding these projects to your portfolio rather than simply making a profit. Perform your takeoff and create your estimate as you normally would, and then you’ll be able to see how much of the total price you can shave off to increase your chances of winning.
You need to have a strong understanding of your overhead and other indirect costs to make cuts to your price. When you know your normal markup for labor, for example, you’re able to reduce it by a fraction if needed. Be careful of coming in too low, however, because this can still result in losing the job if your qualifications are questioned. You also don’t want to set the bar so low that you can never make a profit in this area.
How to Create More Accurate Estimates
You may already understand why accurate estimates are so important, but how do you go about improving your process so that you can be more precise? These 5 tips can help.
1. Get ahead of deadlines
If you’re always working down to the wire on submitting proposals, your estimating team is stressed and playing catch up. Instead, be proactive. Find a tool that lets you increase your takeoff speed so that time isn’t wasted in the measurement stage.
The faster you can perform takeoffs, the better able you are to decide which projects are worth bidding on in the first place, and you have time to gather more information, conduct potential site visits, and create a comprehensive proposal that will get your company noticed.
2. Eliminate mistakes caused by human error.
Sometimes a ruinously inaccurate bid is a result of something as simple as a misplaced decimal point or a typo. This is an easy fix, so don’t let it happen to you. Use a pre-construction platform that keeps all your data in a single source of truth. You should be able to go from takeoff to estimate to proposal in one software without transferring data elsewhere and introducing the opportunity for mistakes.
3. Get familiar with the details.
Even if you want to send only a high-level overview in your proposal to the Contractor, get in the habit of making your internal estimate as detailed as possible. A labor and material estimate allows you to break down costs in terms of items and assemblies, but even if you prefer unit cost estimates, you should separate all indirect costs, rather than adding markup into the price of your measurements.
Knowing your true direct costs enables you to adjust markup, overhead, or labor charges as desired both per estimate and company wide. Don’t forget to include other indirect costs associated with the project, like freight, delivery charges, or refuse containers.
4. Take material cost increases into account.
If you can, share your takeoffs with your suppliers along with your quote request to ensure the most accurate possible order. And remember that prices rise regularly, so be sure you’re informed about supplier increase cycles. Don’t assume your materials will cost the same now as they did three months ago – double check before finalizing your estimate, and if you anticipate an increase mid-project, include a clarification about time-sensitive pricing in your proposal. This way your cost remains accurate and the Contractor isn’t caught off guard.
5. Anticipate waste.
We’d all like to think our crews are perfect, but in reality they’re human. People have off days and don’t accomplish as much as they intend. They make mistakes when measuring and have to scrap some supplies.
Account for this in your estimate by tracking how much waste is generated on average per measurement or per material (and labor) and add that percentage into your total price so all your bases are covered.
By following these 5 practices you should see your estimated costs start to line up much more closely with actual completed job costs, so you can bid more, win more, and grow your business.
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