In a perfect world, demolition starts on time, deliveries arrive on schedule, installation takes place without a hitch, and cleanup is quick and easy. Chances of all that happening are slim enough; don’t shrink the odds by falling prey to these common pitfalls. Here are some tips from our friends at This Old House.
- Trying to be your own General Contractor (GC). This is one job you don’t want to undertake. A home remodel whether kitchen, bath, addition or upgrade is costly, complicated, and time-consuming – and the input of qualified professionals is invaluable.
- Hiring the wrong GC. Never hire a contractor who makes you uncomfortable, no matter how highly recommended or how low the estimate. Don’t go on numbers alone, look past them into quality of work, personal responsibility and responsiveness. If you feel like the contractor is not the best fit – keep looking.
- Putting the job out for bid without clear enough specs. Unless you account for every detail of the project up front, you won’t be comparing apples to apples when you solicit bids. That means details and lots of them – specifying things such as flooring, materials, lighting, trims, windows, countertops, even cabinet hardware. If you don’t, a contractor might assume higher-end choices (which may be more difficult to install), or he could assume contractor grade and you wind up with something less than you wanted.
- Paying in advance. It’s shocking how often normally intelligent people turn over a huge chunk of savings to someone they just met. Never pay more than 30 percent of the total job cost up front (typically to cover startup materials). Then work out a schedule of progress payments based on the completion of predetermined phases of the job.
- Blowing the budget. Have you ever made a run to Lowe’s to pick up a plunger and some window screening and come back with $200 worth of tools and gadgets you didn’t really need? The same goes for remodeling. It’s essential to make a plan—and to stick to it. The most expensive four words in remodeling are “while you’re at it.”
- Not planning for tomorrow. Unless you’re planning to move within the next couple of years, be sure to plan for future needs. This includes an expanding family or a shrinking one as kids move away. If you are going to age in-place make sure to build that into your plans now.
- Ignoring what you can’t see. Everyone worries about how something looks but it is incredibly important to pay attention to the stuff you can’t see. What’s behind the walls and under the floors really counts – shortcuts in these areas will come back to haunt you.
- Changing your mind—again and again. Time is money. Indecisive homeowners would do well to heed his warning. Regretting, reordering, reconfiguring—it all leads to delays, changed work orders, and tapped-out budgets. It also tests the patience of your contractor, who’s got another job lined up after this one.
- Not Understanding Cape Cod Permitting. Being a coastal environment you need to understand that the Cape has unique permitting requirements. Especially if you live off the Cape you may not be used to, or aware of, these regulations and requirements. Get informed before you get too far down the road with planning – especially if you are near the water.