When renovating your home remember who’s in charge

If you’re planning to replace your front entry door, update an old kitchen, or even do a complete gut job of your entire home, always remember to take the necessary steps to prepare for any home reno project.

Blueprint for renovation 2001-2

Most homeowners can handle small projects, but for larger projects, it’s probably wise to hire a professional designer or general contractor.  Regardless of their approach, the following tips will help to ensure you take charge of the renovation project from the start to finish.

Home Renovation Preparations

Make a general list of the things you need to know.  Items on the list may include budget, décor, rooms to be remodeled, whether you need to relocate during the project, what permits are needed, etc.

  • Complete your “wish list.” You can get ideas from books, remodeling magazines, showrooms, or visit some open houses in your area. Clips pictures and put them in a folder.
  • Prioritize each item on the list. You will need to differentiate between needs and wants– like wall insulation versus granite countertops in the kitchen.
  • Establish your budget for the project. Use your wish list to help you determine the scope of your renovation.
  • Sketch a plan of the existing space yourself or hire someone to complete the drawings.

The drawing helps you visualize and plan. It also comes in handy when discussing pricing.

Choosing a Designer or Contractor

Speak with friends, family members, and associates for recommendations. The company or individual you choose should have a brick and mortar business location and a stellar reputation with suppliers, contractors and banks. Here are some factors for you to consider when interviewing for in a designer or contractor:

1.    Find out how long the firm has been in business. A company with 3-5 years under its belt has usually established strong business practices and will likely be around to honor its warranties.

2.    Ask for the names of three previous customers for whom the designer/contractor completed similar projects. Contact the references and find if they would hire the company again.

3.    Review the professional’s completed projects and work in progress. Pay close attention to the materials used and the quality of the workmanship from the moment you enter the front doors to inspect the work.

4.    Select a professional who you feel comfortable working with and a person at ease with communicating with you. Get specific details of how the person plans to communicate with you during the course of the project.

5.    Obtain a written proposal for the project that includes details on the scope, materials, and change order procedures and time lines for each phase of the project.

6.    Take a close look at unusually low bids. If the designer/contractor underbids to get the job, you may encounter problems with the person cutting corners, using inferior materials, or running out of resources to complete the work.

Make sure the contract is written in clear language, including the cost, scope of the project, scheduled completion, warranties and applicable details. You will also want to obtain copies of warranties for front doors, fixtures, or other items and materials wher applicable.

Finally, once you’ve created your short list, double check to ensure they have the appropriate insurance and licenses (which all contractors should have) and have agreed to follow a strict code of ethics.  Take responsibility to ensure your renovation project has the proper permits.

Renovating your home is never a stress-free situation, but when you take charge and follow the advice given problems can definitely be minimized.

Good luck!

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