Tips to a successful renovation project using a contractor/remodeler

Once you have decided that you are undertaking a renovation project it is time to start looking for a remodeler or contractor.  This process can sometimes take as long as the project itself.  Finding the contractor that can not only handle the project, but that you can also establish a good relationship with can be the key to a successful remodel or one of the nightmare stories you hear on the home improvement shows.   Below are 9 tips to planning and executing a successful remodeling project.

1. Establish good two-way communication with the remodeler. Without good communication from the beginning, you can most certainly expect problems with your remodeling project.  It is important to note whether or not he or she returns your calls promptly, listens to your suggestions, and answers your questions clearly and accurately. A good contractor should always be reachable when needed.  By having a good rapport with the contractor, you can effectively and efficiently tackle problems when they arise.

2. Go with the contractor that has the proven track record and the one you trust. Trust is a big factor when choosing a contractor.  Follow up with references and go with your guy instinct.  Sometimes it is worthwhile to pay a little bit extra up front to get the contractor that you feel most comfortable with. 

3. Establish a clear time line for the project. One of the biggest complaints from homeowners is that their remodeling project drags on and on.  By establishing a clearly defined time line for the project, and contingency plans if the project runs over it will help keep the remodeler on track and it will give you a benchmark for progress.

4. Get everything in a written proposal. Verbal agreements can be left open for misinterpretation and confusion.  By clearly spelling everything out on paper, you can ensure that your expectations and the remodelers plans match up perfectly.
5. Don’t overlook the minor details. There are a lot of little details that need to be settled before work starts. What times of day will they be working? How will he access the property? How will cleanup be handled? How will they protect your property? 

6. Flexibility is the key. Very few projects ever go exactly according to plan, so you will need to have some flexibility.   Plan on your renovation or remodeling project interrupting your life in some way.

7. Layout a plan for handling modifications or changes. When you are trying to put your personal touches on a project, it is inevitable that there will be minor (sometimes major) changes to the materials or layout. Agree with your remodeler on how these changes will be handled before the start of work. Also understand that changes could affect the schedule and the budget, so it’s important you have all changes in writing.

8. Cover all your bases on the contract. The contract should include these elements: a timetable for the project, price and payment schedule, detailed specifications for all products and materials, insurance information, permit information, procedures for handling change orders, lien releases, provisions for conflict resolution, notice of your right under the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling Off Rule (your right to cancel the contract within three days if it was signed someplace other than the remodeler’s place of business), and details on the important issues (such as access to your home, care of the home, cleanup and trash removal).

9. Ask for a written Lien Waiver from the remodeler upon completion of the work. If the remodeler hires subcontractors for portions of the work it is their responsibility to see them compensated. In order to ensure this has been done and to protect yourself, ask for a written lien waiver when the work is finished. This document will verify everyone has been paid. 


For more tips and resources for your remodeling project, go to our Resources Page


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