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Renovation Tips for the First-Time Rebuild

By: Mike Thomas

For those homeowners who may be considering a remodel or extensive renovation, there are a number of important issues to be addressed. Although some points may not be directly connected to the construction process, they will have a definite impact on how smoothly a project will progress. When homeowners take the time to cover the fundamentals, everything else will generally fall into place.

Working Plans

Regardless of the overall scope of any project, a working set of plans is an absolute must. All to often homeowners will allow general contractors to fly by the seat of their pants. This is especially true of smaller projects like bathroom or kitchen remodels. Whether the homeowner hires an architect or a contractor with design experience, a working set of plans should be completed and approved before any job begins.

Choosing The Right Contractor

This is a critical stage. Selecting the wrong contractor will only lead to headaches and disappointment. Being patient and thorough during the selection process will serve any homeowner well. Although it's not always possible, starting the search locally is advisable. This allows homeowners better access to previous clients and business references. This is no time for the homeowner to be shy. Checking references and looking closely at a contractor's portfolio means heading into the field and actually talking with people. Previous clients and local vendors should have no issues about releasing information, good or bad.

Homeowners should secure 3 bids for their proposed project. It's important to make certain that prospective contractors are given the same information and guidelines so that everyone involved starts off on an equal footing.

Once a builder is chosen, a contract and payment schedule should be agreed upon. This can turn into quite a dance when homeowners fail to stand their ground. Every contractor will expect something different, but it's important that the homeowner doesn't give away the farm. It's not uncommon to break the overall cost into 3 payments. One payment to start the project, another at the halfway point, and a final payment when the post-construction punch list has been completed.

Determine Who The General Contractor Will Be

It's not unheard of for a homeowner to take on some of the responsibilities of a general contractor. This might involve ordering materials, seeing the permit process through, and attending to other administrative details. This can be a slippery slope. If the homeowner has hired a reliable builder, there is no real reason to step on his toes.

While it's understandable that homeowners want to be involved, that can be achieved through regular progress meetings. Finding the right balance is important, as too much involvement can often cause friction among the crew and even delays in a job's progress.

Actual Construction Aside

Depending on the scope of a project, homeowners should consider renting a self storage unit for the duration of the job. Making certain that furniture and valuables are out of harms way will benefit everyone who's involved. No matter how careful a homeowner or contractor might be, furniture will almost end up damaged if it has to be moved too many times.

Other seemingly insignificant details will all help to make a jobsite run smoothly. Offering to help with the daily cleanup, making certain to plan accordingly when the kitchen or bathroom are out of commission, and maintaining healthy communication with the contractor are all equally important.

With careful attention to detail, a good relationship with the contractor, and a huge amount of patience, homeowners will always be proud of the end result.


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†Average repair and replacement costs as reported in a nationwide survey: A Study of Homeowners Appliance and Home System Service Experiences Decision Analyst (2011) and reprinted with their written permission.

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