Many people are choosing to stay in their existing homes instead of purchasing another home for reasons such as better school districts, property tax advantages, and family proximity. Real Estate has traditionally been not only a shelter for your family, but it can also be a great investment as well. Remodeling or room additions can make your home more efficient and comfortable, and it is possible to recoup most or even all of the remodeling costs.
If planned and executed properly, the remodeling process can be a relatively smooth one.
Unfortunately, many people do more research when buying a television than when preparing to undertake a home remodeling project. If you plan to live at home during the remodeling process, be ready for some inconvenience. Larger projects that require weeks or months can be intrusive and daunting.
The following is a checklist to help create a positive remodeling experience:
1. Put your ideas on paper, preferably actual architectural drawings.
These specifications will define the scope of work and be given to each qualified General Contractor you have invited to bid. Drawings and detailed specifications will help eliminate the unknowns and decrease the potential for Change Orders. Change Orders are additional invoices issued to the homeowner when the unexpected occurs. For example, if there is plumbing in a wall that wasn't referenced in the drawings and/or specifications.
2. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they have any personal, positive experiences with a General Contractor.
Use Yelp and Internet searches to read customer testimonials and company reviews. It is a good idea to get bids from three different Contractors. Ask for references and be diligent in following up with a visual inspection on at least one prior job. While checking references, ask if the Contractor was reliable, had good communication skills, and whether or not the customer was charged excessive Change Orders.
3. Check that the Contractor's license is current and active.
Start by calling the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) or visiting their website, www.cslb.ca.gov. On the website, you can also check the status of the company's workers' compensation insurance. Additionally, go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to confirm that the company is EPA lead-safe certified. The EPA's new Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule became a Federal law as of April 22, 2010, and reportedly few general contractors in California have received certification. D.R. Domenichini Construction has completed the requirements and is EPA lead-safe certified.
4. Get a written contract. Avoid bids that are vague.
Materials should be specified by brand and model number, if possible. Be sure that you completely understand the terms of the contract. When will the project commence, and what is the projected completion date? How will Change Orders be handled? Never pay more than 10% or $1,000 (whichever is less) up front. If the contract calls for progressive payments, never pay more than the value of the work completed.
5. Meet before construction begins to discuss mutual expectations and concerns.
Schedule ongoing meetings, preferably once a week or so. The meetings do not need to be lengthy (a half-hour is often sufficient) but are necessary to provide adequate communication throughout the duration of the project. Additional information on avoiding home improvement scams can be found here.
6. Schedule a final job walk at the completion of the project.
During this walk, the homeowner has the opportunity to identify, discuss and document any defects or incomplete work. This detailed list is often called a "punch list". It is a good idea to supplement this punch list by marking the actual areas of concern on the walls, ceilings, etc., with blue painter's tape. Number the blue tape and reference them on the punch list. Never pay the final retention fee until the project is complete. Never pay with cash.
Using this checklist will help assure that the overall experience will be as pleasant as possible.
You will then be able to enjoy the surroundings of your newly remodeled project!
D.R. Domenichini Construction