Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The How, Why, And Who Of Home Remodeling And Dealing With Contractors

Carpenter at work on Douglas Dam, Tennessee (T...Image by The Library of Congress via FlickrAt sometime in the life of a home owner you decide it's time to remodel. The most common remodels are in the kitchen with new or resurfaced cabinets. The next on the list would be a deck or landscaping. Followed by a bathroom remodel. Being in the building business I found these three the most common requests.

When remodeling it's good to start with a budgeted amount you want to spend. Sticking to this budget is tough because you may underestimate what the projects cost or you go all wacky and want gold fixtures. Your spending a lot of money it's good to go slow in the planning and cost stage of the project.

You must keep in mind that when remodeling your home the money you spend must yield that amount when or if you ever sell. Putting extraordinary or opulent  additions to your home will never be monetarily  realized when you sell. In plain English it means, don't over build for your neighborhood. Keep the final product within the price level of the other homes around you.

Normal and practical additions include:
  • Bathroom remodeling
  • Master bedroom remodeling
  • Bathroom remodeling or addition
  • Family Room addition
  • Roof Replacement
  • Window replacement
Dealing with a contractor can be a pleasure or a nightmare. I am a licensed building contractor, and being around other contractors you learn the ones that do a professional thorough job are a rare breed. It's imperative to hire one that has been recommend by someone. It's a good idea to actually go see the work that was done by the contractor. When I hired a cabinet contractor my wife and I went to a customers house to check out the work.

  • Get at least three written estimates
  • Check references, including past clients
  • Call the local chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau to check for complaints
  • Make sure the contract is clear and specifies what the job entails, including time frame, price and unforeseen changes
  • Never pay in full, make a small down payment only if asked, preferable not. (Good contractors won't ask for earnest money)
  • If Payment is not upon completion. Set up payments to coincide with work completed. Always hold the final payment till 100% job completion. No if's and's or but's.
  • Make sure the contract has a 3-day rescission clause to protect you should you change your mind.
  • Ask if the contractor will do the work or will it be sub-contracted
  • Check all permits, licenses and insurance needs are meet by the contractor. Check and double check these.
  • Make sure inspections are carried out by proper building department people.
  • Hold the contractor responsible for cleanup and any damages that should occur during construction
  • Make sure materials called for are used.

I have a pet peeve with contractors so I always scrutinize them carefully when working with them. It reminds me in the movie "The Naked Gun", at the end of the movie the bad guy is caught and asked the question, "How can you be so evil?". The bad guy responds, "Don't forget, I spent three years as a building contractor." This always cracks me up because I know so many bad contractors.


Reader: What's your experience with remodeling and contractors?

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