You’ve decided to renovate your home or part of it. This can be a stressful situation for anyone. What should you do or avoid doing? Should you hire a consultant or a contractor? We’re here to help. The following is a checklist to assist in making your home improvement job a smooth and pleasant experience.
By establishing a point of contact, you avoid “he said, she said” run-around. Appoint someone to stay in contact with contractors and have them relay the information to the rest.
We can’t stress how important this is. You should never feel like there is a dumb question or too shy to express your concerns. Many times, bad experiences can be traced back to poor communication. Voice your question/opinion and rest easy that no leaf was left unturned.
You’re going to be spending days, maybe weeks of time with your contractor. Make sure you’ve chosen someone who compliments your style and taste.
Your project could very well run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Just like any other large purchase i.e. automobile, real estate – you owe it to yourself to shop around before committing to anything. Things to look at in contractors are: experience, references, insured/bonded, contracts, effective communication, language barriers, and length of time in business to name a few.
Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world. Some contractors will say anything to earn your business. Little do they know, you’ve done your homework. Typically if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Also, if something just doesn’t feel right, trust your gut! If you receive an estimate that is significantly lower than the others it could mean the contractor is using incorrect and/or cheap materials, lack of knowledge or even fraud! Other areas of concern are deposits and timeframes. NEVER agree to more than 30% starter cost unless it is relevant and stated in the contract. If the estimated time is much longer than others, it could mean a shortage in manpower. Too fast of a turnaround time could mean inexperience or empty promises.
Make a wish list and share it with your contractor. This will give him/her insight on your vision. Together you can work on making the list happen within the scope of your time and budget. Remember communication is key.
Change is good, but too much change can eat up time and money! Remember that the more you change the plans around, the longer it will take for the project to be completed and will cost you more money. When going over your wish list, come up with 2-3 variations and vote on the best one.
For your safety and that of the contractor, set limits inside and outside of the home. Inside, protect your valuables by locking them in a safe or moving them elsewhere. Keep in mind that there will be dust and debris around the worksite. If you have a habit of leaving your Nobel Peace Prize laying around, we suggest you put it away. Outside, make sure to indicate the perimeter of your property and what parts are off limits. The last thing you want is your neighbor asking about the stack of materials on their property. Lastly, when it comes to sharing the restroom, we suggest budgeting in a portable. Most places will rent them for under $100 per month, which includes delivery, and pick up.
Depending on the size of your project, you may have anywhere from 1 to 10 separate entities working in your home. Create a list of all your points of contact for easy communication.
It’s important to stay informed with the progress of your renovation. If your project is a lengthy one, schedule weekly meetings with your contractor for all updates. On a side note – remember that you hired your contractor to supervise the project. Any concerns or questions should be addressed with him and never the crew.
Grab some paper and a pen, its time for a punch list. Take your time and make sure to ask questions if there is something that you don’t understand. Keep your list and revisit it when your contractor states it will be done.
Whether it’s hard copies or digital, make sure to keep all receipts and records from your project. Some items such as appliances, light fixtures, ceiling fans may come with a store or manufacturer warranty. Keep your records in a safe place incase you have to access them later.
How you wrote up the contract will vary in percentage, either way, its time for the last installment. Make sure that all work has been completed to your satisfaction before releasing payment and signing off on anything.
Your project is finally done! Be sure to share the experience by referring friends and family. Also, a good contractor will keep a list of references for future prospects to refer to. Help them out by agreeing to be a reference.
If you were refereed by a third party such as Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor, be sure to leave feedback. Most companies also have a Facebook page or are part of the BBB. Let others know how well your experience went.
You’ve made the decision to renovate your home. It is time to shop around. Researching potential contractors is essential in narrowing down your search. It is important to choose a personality that you like and someone who shares your vision for your home. Read our home improvement guide for more detailed information.
Remodeling or renovating your home can be an exciting time, but it is a time of many changes. It is best to plan ahead for when the crew is in your home, and until your project is complete. We have created a list of items to consider during the process. We recommend that you download and print our home improvement guide which includes helpful tips about the process.
Yes, we would be glad to provide you with references upon request. It is highly recommended that you ask your contractor for references. If they do not provide you with references you should consider choosing another contractor.
For the most part, a building permit is usually required when there is structural modifications to your home. Each jurisdiction has different codes based upon what city or county you reside in. Contractors should know when a permit is needed and how to acquire one. For more information, contact your city or county representative.
Due to the differing scope of projects, you can plan accordingly based on whether you are doing small home improvements or larger home renovations. Many projects take longer than expected due to the contractor attempting to complete multiple projects at the same time. This adds to both the time and frustration for the client. When choosing your contractor, make sure your project is priority and they have a crew committed solely to completing your project in a timely manner.
When determining how much your project may cost there are many factors to consider. These may depend upon how detailed your project is, whether there is minor or major renovations being completed, and the costs of overall materials. To ensure that your estimate is accurate, we evaluate it in a step by step process that is precise so that no additional costs are needed to complete your project.
There are many factors to consider when hiring a contractor. If the estimate seems too low or too high, you may want to inquire. Ask questions and make sure you understand all the information provided to you in the estimate. Always keep in mind that going with a lower bid may not only compromise quality but costs not included or omitted may be added once your project has begun.
Any additional costs can be contributed to changes or unforeseen issues not identified within the initial estimate. Completed estimates are based solely upon the project description and initial inspection of the project work site. Estimate could change upon discovery of the need for additional work and or materials once the project has started. Any alterations or deviation from the specifications involving extra costs will be executed only upon written consent and will become an extra charge over and above the initial estimate. All agreements, contingent upon strikes, accidents or delays are beyond the contractors control.
Payment arrangements will be made with your contractor as stated in your contract. You should never give a contractor the full amount before your home improvement project is complete. An installment plan will be agreed upon with you and your contractor. Make sure that all work has been completed to your satisfaction before releasing the final payment installment.
The best way to avoid being another victim is to do your research and ask questions. We can’t stress how important it is to voice your questions, opinions and concerns in addition to doing research on the company/contractor you are considering hiring.
We strongly recommend you read our guide.