Feature Case Studies
Bolster provides a suite of proprietary tools and data-driven reports to help empower owners to make the best decisions for their home renovation project. See below how these features have solved the renovation challenges of real homeowners in NYC.
Know the likely cost of your intended project
Traditional Problem: Homeowners rarely get reliable and accurate information about their project's total cost before engaging professionals.
Bolster Solution: Bolster's Cost Estimate provides owners with a statistically accurate range of costs to make informed decisions about the scope, design and cost of their renovation project, before professional services are engaged.
Loft Conversion in Tribeca
Alex's Problem: Alex had been saving for her Tribeca loft conversion for several years and had $400,000 put away. While searching for an architect, she was repeatedly told that her project would cost over $500,000 and became disillusioned with the process.
Bolster's Solution: Alex contacted Bolster after researching renovation costs online and within 48 hours, met her Bolster Specialist and Professionals at her project address and, free of charge, received her Cost Estimate. The report showed her the minimum and maximum cost of her scope of work and revealed the areas where she could save money so as to achieve a project she would be happy with for her $400,000 budget.
Accurately define your scope of work to fit your budget
Traditional Problem: Contractors often make their overhead and profit appear lower by inflating the cost of materials and so owners can't understand what they're being charged for. Also, by adding a fixed percentage (e.g. 20%) on top of material costs for profit and overhead, it is impossible for owners and architects to know for sure if contractors have correctly calculated all their time-based resources which jeopardizes the deliverability of the project.
Bolster Solution: Bolster's Budget Planner Tool helps prioritize the owner's scope of work and provides min / max figures for each task and material allowance with every and all costs separated out. This quantifies and visually communicates the owner’s key project drivers (budget, scope and quality of finish) so they can make informed decisions about what they can and can’t afford prior to committing to design fees (on average $40,000 on Bolster projects).
Apartment Combination in the Upper West Side
Eric and Allie's Problem: Eric and Allie, a professional couple in New York City, and their architect, were receiving bids from contractors to combine two Upper West Side apartments but they were unable to fully understand what they were being charged for and so could not make a decision about who to hire.
Bolster's Solution: Together with Bolster Contractor Aaron Borenstein, Eric and Allie were able to use Bolster's Budget Planner Tool to fully understand exactly where best to invest in their home.
Aaron did not need to inflate his direct costs because Bolster's method helped inform Eric and Allie on the exact indirect costs required to deliver their project successfully. The result was a complete understanding of Aaron's true value as a general contractor and direct cost savings totaling $64,936.
Also with Bolster, Aaron's Project Resources and Overhead and Profit were itemized, calculated and priced from the bottom-up to reflect the true cost of managing and delivering Eric and Allie's project successfully to schedule. This approach also revealed $26,228 worth of project-critical line items that the competition had left out.
“Bolster was the missing link on our project – their process showed us the decisions that were driving our costs and the levers we had at our disposal to control them. From there, we were finally able to make the right decisions for our renovation.
Eric Boester, Bolster Customer, Upper West Side, NYC
Produce drawings that fit your budget
Traditional Problem: The major problem with the traditional renovation design process is that there is often no stress-testing of the owner's budget against the scope of work the architect has been asked to design. As such, bids from contractors frequently come in significantly higher than anticipated, resulting in sticker shock for the owner and a painful, and sometimes expensive, re-design process.
Bolster Solution: Working within the Bolster process, owners can embark upon their design with their architect safe in the knowledge they already have a scope of work that is achievable for an agreed-upon budget thanks to our Budget Report and Planner Tool. This avoids contractor bids from coming back way over budget and the sunk cost, time and emotional pain involved in the architect having to redesign (“value engineer”) the project.
Gut Renovation in Garrison NY
Carl & Karen's Problem: Carl and Karen were receiving bids from contractors to gut renovate their 3-bedroom home in Garrison, NY. Their architect had drawn up their plans and submitted them to several contractors, however despite a firm $600,000 budget, every bid (including one from Bolster Contractor Isidore Castiglia) came in over $1M. Carl and Karen had already spent over $50,000 on design fees but were unwilling to move forward with their project's construction due to the additional budget it required.
Bolster's Solution: Carl and Karen's Bolster Specialist recommended they use our Budget Planner Tool. With minimal redesign, they were able to reduce their Bolster Contractor's bid from $1,184,867 (97% over their $600,000 budget) to $739,191 (just 23% over their $600,000 budget - which they increased given the value of their newly optimized scope and design).
Following this result, Carl and Karen were happy to finally proceed with their renovation.
Cost: On-Target Design Fees vary depending on scope of work
“Bolster's process and budget tools immediately put my wife and I at ease and were the deciding factor in finally doing our project.
Carl Nelson, Bolster Customer, Garrison, NY
Get a detailed, competitive bid that fits your budget
Traditional Problem: Traditional bids from contractors often lack specificity around exactly what is being paid for and why. This makes it very difficult for owners to make intelligent decisions about what they are buying and who to hire for their renovation.
Bolster Solution: A Bolster Bid breaks down every task into its raw material and installation costs and reveals the resources the General Contractor requires to deliver the project on time and on budget. This proprietary format empowers owners to ask the right questions and obtain like-for-like pricing information from any competing contractors so they can make the right hiring decision.
Luxury Kitchen Renovation in the Upper West Side
Adam's Problem: Adam and his wife were renovating their Central Park West two-bedroom apartment and had several general contractors bidding for the work. Unfortunately, they could not obtain like-for-like information from each and so were unsure of the price they were being asked to pay and who to hire.
Bolster's Solution: Adam reached out to Bolster and within 14 days received their Bolster Bid from Bolster Contractor Aaron Borenstein. The highly detailed, structured and educational format of Aaron's bid empowered Adam to ask the right questions of all of his contractors. This eventually reduced the price variance between Aaron's bid and the lowest competing bid from 25% to within just 1% of Aaron's.
Subsequently Adam and his wife made the decision to hire Aaron and Bolster for their renovation.
Cost: $1,000 (FREE with On-Target Design)
Quantify the financial risk you are exposed to
Traditional Problem: In many renovations, homeowners are in the dark when it comes to analyzing bids, architects find it a challenge to design to budgets, and contractors, aware that the key driver for homeowners is price, may underestimate how much projects cost. This can result in delays, cost overruns, and expensive re-designs that the owner only becomes aware of once construction is underway.
Bolster Solution: Bolster's Risk Report quantifies the owner's financial exposure to cost overruns and contractor failure when hiring a typical contractor, a Bolster Contractor and a Bolster Contractor backed by the Bolster Financial Guarantee. The report reveals the likely final cost of their renovation in each scenario and empowers them to make an informed decision about which contractor to hire.
Rooftop Renovation in Battery Park City
Jason's Problem: Jason and his architect were receiving bids for a high-end rooftop terrace renovation in Battery Park City. One of the contractors had worked in the Jason’s building for the past decade and was the preferred option until Bolster Contractor Aaron Borenstein provided a more detailed bid that was 21% higher. Given the scientific and transparent nature of Bolster's Pricing Process, Jason was inclined to trust Aaron's bid but didn't know for sure which bid to choose.
Bolster's Solution: Generated alongside Aaron's Final Build Proposal, was a Risk Report that quantified the different levels of financial risk Jason was exposed to when hiring his initially preferred contractor versus hiring a Bolster Contractor like Aaron.
It was revealed for example that his building's contractor were claiming they could deliver the project 2.17 times faster than Aaron while using only 17% of the resources - clearly important information was missing.
Bolster's data-driven report also revealed that at the price it presented in its bid--the competing contractor would have likely required about 142 days to deliver, not the 30 it forecast. In fact, at the low price, high speed, and minimal human resources they forecast, the competing contractor was putting themselves at risk for bankruptcy and in turn exposing Jason to financial risk.
To test the veracity of the competing contractor's bid further, Jason asked them to provide the same financial guarantee as Bolster, but they were unwilling to do so.
On the surface, a cheaper bid sounds appealing, but after thorough consideration of his Project Risk Report, Jason opted for Bolster. He made this decision because Aaron's bid presented the project ceiling and offered a financial guarantee to ensure that he wouldn't be exposed to cost overruns.
Cost: FREE with Final Build Proposal
Eliminate the financial risk you are exposed to
Traditional Problem: In approximately half of all renovation projects, cost overruns are between 40% and 200% of the initial bid. Also every year, 17.2% of contractors in New York go out of business taking 77,245 projects and $700M of homeowner's hard earned money with them.
Bolster Solution: With the Bolster Financial Guarantee in place, owners can rest assured that a Bolster Contractor's bid is the absolute maximum they will pay for their renovation project.
Prewar 3-Bed Co-op Renovation in Brooklyn
Adam & Kat's Problem: Not having done a renovation before, and with a strict completion and move-in date imposed upon them, Adam and Kat's biggest concern going into the project was not knowing how they could get to the end result in the most time and cost efficient way possible. Several contractors they met assured them their project would be delivered on time and to budget, but Adam and Kat were unable to know for sure if they would deliver as promised.
Bolster's Solution: All Bolster projects are eligible to be backed by a leading insurer who, via the industry's first 100% Performance and Payment Bond, financially guarantee the success of your project. Upon learning of this, Adam reached out to Bolster and, after moving through our Design & Build process with his recommend Bolster Architect and Contractor, received an On-Target Bid backed by Bolster's Financial Guarantee.
The Bolster Financial Guarantee means that If Aaron had failed to perform for any reason or was experiencing delays, the insurer would pay to complete Adam and Kat's project, up to its full value, at no extra cost while legally pursuing Aaron for any claims it settled. This of course helped keep Aaron and his team on their A-game and limited the likelihood of delays or cost-overruns from impacting Adam and Kat.
As promised, Adam & Kat were able to move into their apartment on time and their project was completed successfully within budget.
Cost: Up to 5% of On-Target Bid