From Brittany on January 5th, 2012 in General Remodel
On the whole, remodeling the home is usually a sound financial decision. While your goal may be to make your house pretty, functional, and a comfortable place to live, renovations also improve your home’s value. Most of what you invest in a remodel will be recovered when the home is sold.
But remodeling typically involves a few unforeseen difficulties, especially when it comes to the homeowner-contractor relationship. To keep headaches to a minimum, here are five ways to ensure that your remodel is a successful one.
If you need help getting your remodel started, or for pricing, click here.
1. How’s Your Budget?
A let’s-see-how-much-it-costs attitude has no place in a home remodeling project. Setting a budget should be your first step in any home renovation. Before you even begin to interview designers, bathroom contractors, subcontractors, kitchen remodeling contractors and the like, it’s important to examine your finances and decide how much you can realistically afford.
Takeaway tip: Most experts recommend setting aside 15-20% of the budget for unplanned (read: emergency) expenses.
2. Take Pictures First
To get an accurate estimate from a contractor, it’s helpful to have as many facts on hand as possible. Either hire a designer or architect to draw up plans, or draft them yourself, using 3D software. The plans should show the locations of all window replacements, doors and duct work, as well as electrical, gas, sewage and plumbing lines. Inspect every inch of the remodeling area to check for existing problems.
Takeaway tip: It’s wise to have a photographic record of all the rooms of your home before construction starts.
3. Find an Awesome Contractor
Seek recommendations first before randomly calling contractors to arrange interviews, and check references from several contractors to help narrow down your search. Ask to see proof of certification and insurance. Before you make your final decision, make sure that your contractor’s schedule and yours align. For pre-screened professionals, you can search CalFinder’s database of contractors, or get matched with a few today by clicking here.
Takeaway tip: You’ll know a contractor is NOT a scammer if they designate a point of contact for you, e.g. your easily reachable, go-to person should you have any questions or concerns.
4. Negotiate Terms in Plain Language
Before you sign a contract, make sure you understand all payment terms, including down payments, payment schedules, late fees and finance options. Make sure you understand the terms of the construction timeline as well. The contractor should provide you with a start and expected end date, as well as a daily working schedule. Check clean-up terms, too. Many contractors readily haul away trash on a daily basis, while others need to be asked to do so.
Takeaway tip: If you don’t spell it out for them, chances are they’ll do it their way.
5. Make Yourself Invisible
Making arrangements for both your family and the workers during the renovation project will help facilitate the process. Your household may want to move into a hotel or other accommodation for the major phases of the remodel. Contractors will usually tape tarps to doorways to seal off rooms, but dust is bound to fly in any renovation, so remove or cover up expensive electronics and furnishings.
For safety’s sake, plan to use a separate entrance into your home than the one that workers use. Outside, make sure there’s a clear path for the workers from the curb to the project site, moving plants as needed. And be realistic about their work path; they won’t be taking off their shoes every time they enter, for instance. They’re professional, sure, but they’re also in the business of making things messy.
Takeaway tip: It may feel like the contractors are in your hair for a few weeks, but the more you get out of theirs, the quicker they’ll be done.