Consulting FAQ

Answers to the most commonly asked questions about our construction consulting
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Consulting FAQs

What is a construction consultant?

Based on deep extensive knowledge, construction consultants have a wide variety of things that they can do with homeowners and business owners. A construction consultant can:

  • Consult on the permit process with the local and county building departments
  • Help solve code problems
  • Be an owner’s representative and advocate for your needs on a project
  • Advise on the building process
  • Provide or oversee the cost estimation process
  • Advise or supervise DIY projects where someone is handy with tools but not quite sure how to proceed in regards to materials, tools, or construction methods
  • Aid in filling out forms for the building department
  • Explain what a homeowner can do by themselves versus what they need a contractor for
  • Advise on items of work that require extensive construction knowledge but do not necessarily require construction permits
Do you do remote, long-distance consultations? How would that work?

Yes. I can answer questions and also look at your project or problem via video chat using programs like Zoom or Skype. I can speak with your contractors, architects, and other personnel. On larger projects, I can fly out to talk with all players and inspect the property firsthand. I get lots of calls from former clients outside California regarding the work they are doing.

My contractor wants payment upfront. Is this normal and how do I deal with it?

Deposits will vary from subcontractor to subcontractor depending on material expenses and other such things. Certain contractors, such as cabinet makers, normally get a larger payment upfront because they have large upfront material costs that need to be covered as part of a deposit. However, beyond the initial deposit, all other aspects of the job should be billed as completed. Depending on the type of billing that a contractor is doing, you either bill weekly, biweekly or monthly. In the contract signed by the owners, all items of work should be specified to be written out in billings and with a price that states the contractor has to bill according to the percentage of the work that is completed.

How do permits work? Can you help me pull permits or do I have to do it myself?

A set of plans must be drawn by the homeowner or the architect in residential jobs, and by an architect in commercial jobs. Those plans have to go to the building department to be processed to ensure that they are in compliance with all of the local building, zoning, and planning codes. The timeline depends on how backlogged the local building departments are and whether it’s a minor or major permit. As a licensed construction service, we can help you obtain  permits. 

Our enormous amount of experience ensures that every aspect of your job is done with trade specifications and high quality. Our motto in working with our clients is to give you the best possible construction experience and provide you with enough information to make wise decisions on how to proceed with your project and how to spend your time and money. We understand the enormity of the stress and anxiety caused by construction projects and will work with you to minimize that through knowledgeable work and guidance so that you feel taken care of.

What are liens and how do they work?

Liens are a claim or legal right against assets against a debt. In the case of a construction project, mechanic’s liens are a legal entity in which a contractor or supplier can put a lien against the property if they have not been paid. If they are not paid and the owner is responsible (not the general contractor) a subcontractor or supplier can foreclose on your project in order to perfect his lien. We can help you through this process.

Can you help look at and assess a house I might buy and how much it would cost to make any repairs and/or renovations? And, can you help realtors with assessment so they have the information they need to sell a property?
Yes, we can look at it and see if the existing house is up to code and how much work it would take in order to bring it up to code or into good physical condition. We can also help determine the cost of any remodeling or addition. We can go in person locally and use video or long distance help to buyers and realtors.
How do I choose a contractor, their credentials, and what should I be looking for?

The best way to find a competent, reliable contractor is to check with friends, neighbors, relatives and acquaintances. They can tell what you need to know firsthand. If you have no one to give you firsthand information be sure to get at least 3 good references. If you can go and look at their work and/or see photos that is always a good idea. You should always check that they are licensed, insured, and have no complaints against them. Your state’s department that regulates contractors is a good place to check. In California, it is called the California Contractors State License Board. (800) 321-2752

What are the steps to manage a construction project as a consultant?

A consultant oversees the whole process, change orders, time scheduling, invoices and billings, releases of liens, and whatever else is needed to conclude your project.

What is the reason I would use a construction consultant on any type of construction project?

A good construction consultant has many years of experience in all aspects of the construction process and can guide you through every step that you have to take, which will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.

When is the best time to bring in a construction consultant on my construction project?

The best time is when you are just beginning to think about your construction project, so the consultant can answer questions and guide you in what you will be facing in all aspects of the construction project.

Martin Espinosa of Crystal Construction Consulting is standing next to a crewman and a Bobcat giving instructions
“Martin is an excellent contractor whom I have known since 2004. He has done million-dollar constructions for us in medical office space, custom home building, and remodeling. As a project manager he oversaw the construction of medical office space of 10,000 square feet to finish on time and within budget.”
– Victor B MD

“I had the pleasure of consulting with Martin. This was by far one of the best experiences I have had. Martin was very knowledgeable about construction and his recommendations were on point and very detailed. He was available to answer my questions and concerns to my satisfaction. I would definitely consult with him again. Highly recommended!”
– Maggie E

Martin Espinosa and a client on location consulting on the development of a yoga studio in Miami, Florida. Crystal Construction Consulting


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