Many of us have dreams of the perfect renovation, an addition, or even a new build. You may find yourself at a point where you can actually make those dreams a reality. When many of us consider acting on this dream we are often held back. I am all too familiar with horror stories about unfinished work, legal fights, and scams. The amount of work involved can be overwhelming. Trust me, with the right help, insight and attitude it is possible to get the home of your dreams.
Last year, we were contacted by a homeowner to finish work a previous contractor had left undone. When the homeowner showed me their brickwork I was shocked. It was obvious the bricklayers did not have the knowledge nor experience to do the job properly. In the end, every single brick needed to be removed and replaced. A $50,000 mistake by the homeowner that could have been avoided had they spoken up earlier.
To make sure you don’t end up in that situation, here are some basic tips for help your project run smoothly.
Describe the goal of your project in one paragraph. Visualize every aspect of the finished product, from the exterior materials to the types of knobs. Next, write a detailed description of the property, the features and the finishes it will have. This is important information to provide your designer and architect who will use it to start up the early drafts of your project.
- Avoid Common Mistakes
Listen to experts. If you are unsure of the answers you get, get more opinions. Don’t listen to uncle Frank who “knows something” about construction. Construction is a dynamic field that is constantly changing with technology.
Don’t go in thinking that the lowest price is what is best. That will not necessarily save you money. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. This is especially true with builder quotes. When you get a bid or a quote from a builder, it may not include all the aspects of the job. There may be some hidden costs they have left out such as cleaning or removing debris, which you would then have to cover. This could be very expensive. What happens if you find out you have several hundred pounds of drywall material sitting around your property? You incur the cost of a waste removal service and it’s an eyesore that keeps the perfect picture of your renovation from coming together.
When looking for a builder always get multiple written quotes before starting your project. This way you can compare what each thinks your project will cost. Quotes are useful because you can use them to compare builders, and get a reasonable expectation of your costs. As stated before, if one is too high or too low something is probably not right.
- The Right Builder
This is the most critical aspect of your entire project. The difference between a good builder and a bad one is the difference between your project being on track or at a standstill. Ask these questions to all builders you interview and compare answers.
-“Are you able to give me a time line?” All builders should be able to give you at the least a general thought of the time it will take to complete your project.
-“What challenges do you expect, or problems you foresee?” Every project has different challenges and an experienced builder will usually see potential problems right away.
-“What do they expect your role to be.” What do they need from you? Do they need to go over designs or do they expect no input from you? You should always have a say in the vision for your home, but you also shouldn’t have to shoulder complicated or time consuming tasks.
-“What is included in your basic services. What is considered an extra cost?”
You don’t want to be surprised when you suddenly have extra expenses that weren’t planned for. When I was young I had to help my neighbour down the street remove the old concrete laundry tub from their basement. The company installing the new tub did not include removal as part of the quote. Even simply things like this can be excluded.
-“What is your payment plan?” They should be able to give you a basic plan. If they can’t, this is a red flag. Always be weary of people asking you for large parts of the budget upfront before anything is even done.
-“Can I ask for your references? Calling references is always a good idea, especially when you are spending your money. When you call references you can use the questions above and compare the answers you already have to verify their answers.
- Get It In Writing
Discuss and ask friendly questions with your builder. Even if you have checked the references for the builder you should still be following these rules. It is better to get written agreement to begin with so that you are both on the same page. Even a friendly misunderstanding can cost time and money. It can even stress your relationship with the builder. You don’t want to verbally agree to getting “about” $3000 worth of material, only to come back with a bill for $3400 because it cost a bit more than they thought. Such costs can quickly add up and stress your budget. With a simple contract stating that all changes to the plan must be discussed and approved, you will always get to decide what is best for you.
- Check In
Check in on the progress weekly. You are spending a significant amount of money on where you currently or soon will live. Contractors do generally prefer to work undisturbed, but one who is extremely uncomfortable at having you take a look at your own property is not a good sign. It is your money and will be your home. You paid for it so keep an eye on it!
If you keep these tips in mind your project will go all the more smoothly.
Till next time.
The Perfect Lifestyle Is Up To You!