How to Avoid the Ordeals of Remodeling
Have you been avoiding remodeling because of the horror stories you've heard from neighbors and friends? Is a handshake and a one-page agreement sufficient?
When you do not have the time or expertise to remodel your home, you have to employ others to do it for you. You need to hire one person to arrange the various services required under one overall project. You need a general contractor.
The general contractor sees to it that you have the proper building permits, that the work meets the codes in your area, and that inspections are carried out at the appropriate intervals. The contractor orchestrates your entire project from hiring, scheduling and supervising sub-contractors to obtaining materials, keeping track of paperwork, and making sure everyone gets paid.
The most reliable method to select a contractor is by personal recommendation from friends and neighbors, real estate agent, or architect. The local Better Business Bureau will know whether any complaints have been lodged against your contractor candidates. Ask the candidates for the names of several clients for whom they have worked, and then follow up. Find out if they were satisfied with the contractor's performance in terms of both quality and schedule. You might ask to see some finished projects. Knowing what they now know, would they re-hire the contractor for another project?
Ideally, a contractor should display excellent workmanship, use quality materials, handle his finances well, complete his work in a timely manner, and clean up the site. Does the contractor communicate well, listen carefully, return calls in a prompt manner?
Ask for proof of license, insurance, and bonding. Make sure your contractor carries enough insurance - including workers' compensation insurance.
Once you have established the exact scope of your project, provide all the contending contractors with the same plans and basic information. This information should include any specific manufacturers and stock numbers that apply. Ask for the same details from each bidder. Remember, the lowest bid is not necessarily the best bid!
The written agreement between you and your contractor explains your relationship in legal terms. It should describe the scope of the project - what it will include and what it won't. It should include dates for the project to start and to finish, the cost of the job, the payment schedule, the size of the down payment, removal of debris and other cleanup responsibilities, the conditions for final payments and signatures of both parties. It should also specify all materials to be used, including quality, quantity, weight, color, size, or brand names where applicable.
An important but often overlooked element in the contract is the provision for making changes. Changes can result in added expense, added time, not to mention added stress. Be sure you have a format for these changes.
Payments should be tied to the amount of work completed. Often a contract will call for a third of the payment at the signing of the contract, a third halfway through the job, and a third upon completion. Do not make the last payment until you see written proof that all sub-contractors and suppliers have been paid, that none of these individuals have filed liens against your property, that all work has passed all building code inspections, and that you and the contractor agree that the job is complete.
Stay involved from the beginning of the project to the end. Good communication is essential!
If you have any questions about the above article please contact me at: Francine@FrancineDiPalma.com or 510-982-4421
Francine Di Palma
Direct Line: 510-982-4421
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