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Construction Nightmares and How to Avoid Them
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Think about the time and effort you put into buying your home. You searched listings on the internet, hired a professional Realtor, narrowed down your preferred neighborhoods and school districts, figured out your commute time to and from work from that location and teamed up with financial experts to figure out how much home you could afford. You probably also toured more houses than you care to remember before selecting “the one.”

Why wouldn’t you put the same time and effort into renovating or adding on to your slice of the American dream? Unfortunately, many homeowners do not and that’s when their dream can turn into a construction nightmare.

The good news is you can stop your home improvement project from turning bad by doing your homework, asking questions and keeping your eye not only on what you want your home to look like when the project is complete (remember, it is a home improvement project) but on your financial bottom line as well.

First things first: Most of the challenges that occur between you as the homeowner and the craftsman you hire to complete your renovation project can be summed up in two words: Money and communication.

Money matters: Most homeowners are easily taken in by a low project bid. Who wouldn’t be? If you’ve got $40,000 set aside for a kitchen remodel and a friend of a friend recommends somebody who says they can do the work for $30,000, most people will assume they’ll come out of the deal $10,000 ahead by accepting the less expensive bid. But, if you get taken in by a low bid you may find yourself making a potentially costly mistake. The same thing can be said of a high bid as well. You may find that a craftsman who is charging you big bucks for a project is no better than one who charges less.

So what do you do? Before hiring a craftsman, ask him for references. Then, contact them and ask if you can visit to see the quality of the work the craftsman you are considering hiring did yourself. Talk to your references about what type of person the craftsman is so you’ll get a feel what type of person he is. In short, treat hiring a craftsman like a job interview, because that is exactly what it is.

Set a realistic budget — and then add a contingency to cover any unforeseen problems that may occur during your project. Most experts say a good additional contingency is 10 to 30 percent of your total budget, depending on the size and scope of your project, And remember, the best part of having a contingency is whatever you don’t spend on your project ends up back in your pocket — or even better, as unplanned for upgrades to your renovation.

When you enter into a contract with your craftsman, don’t pay for everything up front. Pay either on an installment basis or as parts of the project are completed to your satisfaction. That will help ensure that the craftsman sticks as closely as possible to your renovations completion timeline.

The most important financial conversation you’ll have with your craftsman will occur before that first wall is demolished or that new shower is installed. Get a clear understanding of what his markups for overhead and profit are. Ask him what his subcontractors are charging him and found out what his hourly charges are. If something goes wrong, know beforehand whose financial responsibility it will be to fix it. And those warranties and guarantees you’ll be getting? Read them so you have a clear picture of what they cover as well.

You’ve also got a lot of power at your fingertips. Use the internet to check prices on what you’ll have to purchase for your renovation, which will also give you an understanding of what quality merchandise and materials you can afford. Make sure you understand exactly what’s in the estimate for the work that the craftsman will be doing. Remember, if you can’t afford it, it’s perfectly alright to say no to that more expensive granite counter top or bathroom shower upgrade. After all, it’s your home and your money and you control both. Now, let’s turn to the other challenge in home improvement projects, communication. The most important rule here is to document every conversation that you have with the craftsmen who are involved with your work. While it is not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong, having written documentation creates an invaluable paper trail if something does. Hold formal meetings, either weekly or bi-weekly during the project to ensure that everyone remains on the same page throughout the scope of the project.

Keeping on top of what’s happening during construction and communicating with your craftsmen controls cost overages, saving you money and maintaining your budget, while ensuring that you and your family have the home of your dreams.

Call us today for more information or Contact Us to schedule an appointment!



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