From Dela on December 4th, 2008 in General Remodel
Most of my remodeling experiences have been in helping others with their projects. Through this, I’ve seen plenty of what should and should not have been done. The one thing that stands out the most is hiring a contractor before you get in too deep. I know it can be a tough decision to make, especially if you’re on a budget, but believe me, when a project isn’t turning out the way you thought it would or some unexpected surprises occur, the costs will only continue soar without one.
I won’t name who in my family did this, but some of you might guess. This person does much of her own remodeling, and so felt she could handle painting her house. She and her spouse made their plans, picked their colors, and shopped for prices in paint and equipment. Wow, they were going to save so much money and they were very excited. They did consult a professional painter, my son, but they wanted to save money and didn’t want to pay for a job they were sure they could do; after all, how hard could it be to brush on some paint and do a little trim?
The painter told them what they needed to do and said he would help, but they insisted they would be OK. He stayed away through the project to save himself the pain of seeing them learn the hard way what he went to school, served an apprenticeship, and spent years of on-the-job experience to learn.
They did do their paint job, and from a distance, it doesn’t look too bad, but my sister, oops, found out that there is a lot of prep work to be done before a single stroke of paint is even applied. They learned that not all paints are the same, what you are painting makes a difference in equipment, and…
Well they learned the hard way. The house is not finished and they will have to paint again in the spring; the job isn’t going to hold up to the winter weather. Did they save money? No, it will end up costing much more; the job has to be fixed and finished the right way.
Hire a professional contractor to do the work that you do not have the ability to do yourself. Be honest, especially if you have never done anything like it before. Many years before this experience, I learned that you must know who you do hire. Don’t trust just anyone that claims to be a professional. Finding a name in the phone book, a license, and some odd references will not guarantee a job well done.
A friend of mine was having her roof refinished by a professional roofer; a job that was to take only a few days. The job took weeks and was barely finished in time for the first big storm that usually hits the Northwest right around October. The job didn’t cost her too much more than what was agreed upon, but it did cost her a great deal in time, worry and frustration, and yes, she had to clean up the mess.
Make sure the contractor you are considering is:
- Well qualified to do the job
- Can show proven experience with references, maybe even pictures of work done
- Licensed and insured
- Able and willing to obtain permits and follow building codes. A contractor not wanting to obtain permits may not have an up to date license
- Able to provide a guarantee of their work
- Going to clean up the mess everyday
Above all, I suggest you do research on the type of contractor you should be using. Get estimates from several possible contractors, and don’t always choose the lowest. A good way to get through this part of homework is to get recommendations. Look to others that have used the contractor before or use a source such as CalFinder to match you up with possible contractors who provide free estimates.