Perhaps you've determined that the time is right to turn that basement into a rec-reation room. Or, maybe, your kitchen need updating. When you decide to undertake a major renovation project, there's a likelihood that you'll hire someone to do the job.
Chances are, you'll ask a few companies to provide you with an estimate on what your undertaking will cost. Nothing is more confusing however, than sending are modeling plan out for bid and getting back wildly different estimates. When bids are all over the map, take some time to find out why:
Review the bids and specs with each contractor to make sure you have an apples-to-apples comparison on materials and design assumption.
Ask about how the work will be accomplished. One contractor may be more resourceful than another at finding solutions for construction problems. On the other hand, you may discover that a low bidder has anticipated important problems.
Question each contractor to learn whether any bid might have neglected significant costs. Costs than often get "forgotten' or underestimated include demolition, permit fees, disposal of debris and repair to landscaping. Ask if the bid includes the price of bringing old systems up to code where required.
Review the notes from your reference check on each contractor. Avoid a contractor who consistently finds lots of expensive surprises during construction, especially on newer homes. Once you've selected the contractor of your choice, you'll want to have a preconstruction conference. Among the issues to discuss during the session:
Hours: When will the workers arrive andleave? Discuss any modifications to the schedule.
Parking: Where can the workers park so they don't bother you or your neighbors?
Telephone: May the workers use your phone for local calls? Which phone can they use?
Bathroom: Which bathroom(s) may they use?
Smoking: Is it permitted and, if so, in what areas of the home?
Radio: Do you mind if workers play a radio? Any restrictions on volume and hours?
Language: Many contractors have a language policy. Make sure it suits you.
Signs: Will you allow a company sign to be posted on your property? (A sign provides company advertising, but also helps subcontractors and suppliers identify your house.)
Safety: Agree on safety precautions you and the contractor will take, especially to protect children and pets.
Job-site access: How will workers, equipment and vehicles approach the site? Choose a path that protects trees,plantings and structures.
Work and storage areas: What areas(s) are off-limits to workers? Where can materials be stored?
Furniture and other belongings: Who will move furniture and replace when the job is completed? Where can belongings be stored so they don't block areas workers need to access (electrical panel, water shut-off valve)?
Security: Will someone let workers in or will they have a key? So they need to lock up when they leave? Where will the keys be kept? Will they need to reset an alarm system?
Salvage: Do you want to save any items, such as light fixtures?
Debris: Where should the trash bin be placed? Can it be used for other trash?
Utility interruptions: Will power or water be shut off at any point? If so, when and for how long?
Cleanup: Is a daily seep-up adequate? How thorough should the final cleanup be? Who will arrange and pay for it?
Any remodeling project involves hammers and nails, bricks and lumber--but above all, it involves people. The contractor, the crew and the subcontractors really make the remodeling happen. By having clear, open and constructive communication among you and all the workers from the beginning, it will go far toward preventing misunderstandings and problems later.
You may want to contact a real estate professional--a REALTOR--to see if are modeling project is wise. A REALTOR can give you information on the neighborhood's housing stock and if your planned upgrades would be a smart investment. Contact a REALTOR to make an informed decision on whether a home improvement project or a new home is your best option.
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