Some items to consider while remodeling. Click on them to read more.

Do consider your contractor's personality.

This person will be in your home each day, so it's paramount that you feel comfortable talking to him or her.

Do ask for a complete contract and read it!

A good contract should cover the following: start and finish dates, total cost (include how add-ons will be handled), a payment schedule, contractor's license number, description of project, and provisions for early termination. If necessary, consult a lawyer.

Do be clear about time frames.

If your contractor is reluctant to lay out a timeline for your project; it may mean the contractor has too many jobs at once to finish yours on time.

Do create lists of neccessary information.

  • Contact names and phone numbers, and what times they can be reached during the project.
  • Instructions on where the workmen can and can not go in your home.
  • How will they access the home during the job in your absence.
  • Where is an appropriate area for debris to be left.
  • Make sure to leave this information in a conspicuous place for all to see.

Do go over the little stuff.

Have a family meeting to discuss the work before it begins. This will make the process much less stressful. Discuss outlets, lighting, colors, materials, etc. Who will be home and when during the project.

Do designate an area for the workmen.

Workmen need an area to work and keep their tools and supplies. Material deliveries will need room to be stored. Consider now a good time to clean out the garage or the spare room for this.

Do get ready.

Buy a big roll of plastic sheeting and blue painters tape. Seal off any entrances, cover any furnishings, etc. Take down pictures and shelving with nick nacks. Store away irreplaceable or valuable items.

Do prepare for dust.

All the cutting, sawing, taping and spackle dust will spread through out your house. Be calm and don't forget that remodeling is a finite experience. No matter how disruptive the process, it's not going to last forever.

Do try to keep change orders to a minimum.

Every time you ask for an adjustment to the project, there will be a delay and a cost. If you must make a change, be sure it's spelled out on paper and that everyone involved signs before any work begins.

Do examine the work daily

Look at the project carefully as it unfolds. Any questions or issues are best addressed while the contractor is still there working, rather than when the project is finished. It is always easier to correct things as they are happening than to apologize for them later.

Do treat yourself to a vacation.

On larger projects, If possible, try to go away for a few days during the project. Not only will you miss the mess, but you'll come back with a fresh outlook on your project.

Don't be shy.

Communicate with your contractor daily by phone or e-mail, and tell him your concerns or ask him your questions. They can not anticipate your needs without hearing them from you.

Don't rely on memory.

Take notes, and write down all your information. Don't confuse what other contractors, friends, or neighbors have said regarding your project; the only relevant items are those discussed by the contractor with whom you have ultimately chosen.

Don't get disorganized.

Keep a job file that includes a copy of the contract, plans, specifications, invoices, change orders, and all other papers.

Don't delay payments unjustly.

As you expect your contractor to remain on schedule, so should you. Transfer and have ready any monies that you need in order to keep to your payment agreement with the contractor. If you have done your research and hired a reputable company and hold to your end of the agreement, they will live up to theirs. If there is a problem with the money, tell them up front before hand. If you feel the need to hold back money for some reason, discuss this before the project begins. Honesty is the best policy here.

Don't expect your contractor to babysit.

Don't expect your contractor to watch your children or pets. Consider sending the kids to a sitter, or boarding your dog, if you can't be there.

Don't go over budget.

If you don't have the funds to do it all at once, consider breaking the project up into more manageable chunks. Rather than choosing lesser materials, or trying to find a "cheaper" contractor, it might be best to take this approach. While this won't reduce the overall cost (it may actually increase with inflation and repeated start-up expenses), spending over time may be easier on your wallet and help you get the project done the way you want it.

Don"t delay on purchasing items you supply.

Order any items that you are supplying for your project as soon as you can. They should arrive early so that you may know if they are agreeable, correct, not damaged, and on the job site ready for the contractor to install.
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If your home was built before 1978, you should also be aware of the new law requiring that your remodel be handled by an EPA Lead Certified Firm or they may face heavy fines up to $37,000.
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