I just thought I would share a my top ten tips for when you are going through a home building process or a renovation. It is so easy to get screwed over in the construction industry. It's usually not over just nickles and dimes. It can often be the difference between your dream home and your worst nightmare.
3. Find a good contractor
Do your research before hiring a contractor. Don't just look them up on the internet. A company with really strong marketing, doesn't necessarily mean they are quality builders. Just because a picture or a website or ad looks great, doesn't mean that it's not photo-shopped or even a picture of their work.
Ask around. Have your friends just built a new house or gone through a renovation? Talk to them about their experiences in dealing with a certain company. Would they do it again? Any problems they encountered? Word of mouth really is an important aspect of the construction world.
Visit the company's show room or shop. Ask to see their portfolio of work, and make sure the buildings have actually been built, not just rendered pictures. They could have a great designer on staff, but if their workmanship is not in the field, it's best to move on. Visit the sites of the actual buildings they have built, and take note of the quality you would expect them to deliver.
Again, get quotes. This is where people get screwed over. If you do decide to go with a certain company or contractor, get everything in writing.
Make sure you have legal documents and contracts.
There are different times to pay for certain things, so know exactly what is due and at what point. NEVER pay the entire amount until the work is finished, and you are satisfied. Deposits should be around 50-60%, and no more. Make sure everything is accounted for, and this is where you need to be sure that you have a honest contractor. 50-60% would be a lot to walk away with on a $100,000 budget. Yikes. I can't even imagine.
I'd even recommend going so far as to hire them for a little project before hiring them on a big project, just so you really know their work ethic and integrity.
4. Get second opinions
In the construction world, it's not only normal, it's encouraged, to get at least three quotes from different contractors. That gives you a feel for the different guys out there, and let the best man or woman win. Remember that the cheapest option is not always the best option. Often, the cheapest quotes have forgotten something, and then is added later on the invoice. Make sure you watch for this. Having three quotes to compare is helpful too, to make sure that nothing gets missed. The middle quote is usually the one to go for- not too cold, not too hot, juuuust right. (I think I've been reading too many story books.)
Once you've hired a contractor, and something seems not right to you, feel free to get a second opinion before it's too late. Sometimes contractors can be moody about this, being a pride thing, so try doing it discreetly. If something doesn't seem right about the work that is going on, chances are you are right. Better to nip it in the butt before it turns into a messy and sometimes legal mess. A second opinion can either calm your nerves and let you know that everything is OK, or it can confirm your suspicions about your contractors work.
A) The plumbing for the bath faucet needed to be removed, which meant ripping out drywall and patching it, and changing the plumbing. Also the drain for a tub is in a different position than a large walk in shower. That needed to be changed as well.
B) Having a shower base instead of a bath meant the need for more tile on the walls. The difference in height between a shower base and a tub is about 2 feet. Doing the math here: The difference in square footage was about 22 square feet. (3'x2'x5') Using a mosaic tile, which is around $25/ sf= a difference in about $550. That's just for the tile. No tile edge, no extra grout and tile adhesive, which are small costs, but it adds up.
C) The bath tub and bath/ shower fixture combo was already ordered. Often, you cannot return special orders, so this would be an extra expense. Hopefully, another bathroom could use the bought and paid for fixtures.
7. Be Involved
It doesn't hurt to be aware of what is going on with your renovations. This is a good way to make sure the project is going as planned. You wouldn't want to walk into your house to find missing walls or extra walls because someone read a drawing upside down. Imagine if you told someone a paint colour and they misheard you and your house was bright orange or something. Mistakes happen, and if you have a clear idea about what's going on in your house, it's easier to pick up on mistakes before they become a big deal. Being around is also a good way to appreciate the workmanship that is happening. I always think it's neat to see the project before, during, and after.
10. Be safe
There are two parts to this safety rant.
Firstly, if you are doing it yourself, make sure you know what you are doing, and that what you are doing is safe and done correctly. Don't do things that you are uncomfortable with or things that are unsafe. Get help when you need it. Unless you are very handy and know what you are doing, I would stay away from doing any electrical work yourself. Ideally, electrical work should be permitted and it would help to avoid circumstances like below. I was helping my friend remove a basement wall, and as soon as we had ripped off the paneling, I see this cut wire among the insulation. Not cool. Thankfully, with a closer look from a distance (yes, that is contradictory), I realized the wire was cut on both ends and just left there, so it was not a live wire just hanging out, starting fires. Thankfully. It's not always the case. We were lucky.
Secondly, if you are getting the work done by someone else, and they come across a safety issue, such as mold, rot or structural issues, this needs to get fixed. It is not your contractor trying to screw you over. In fact, it is them looking out for you. As much as this sucks for the budget, it is important to fix it. Safety first, my friends!
I hope this helps when picking out a contractor when renovating or building. I don't like seeing people getting screwed over in this industry. Life can be pretty ruthless sometimes, so if this saves you a headache, then I've done my part. Home is where the heart is, and it shouldn't be a traumatic experience to get your home the way you want it.
Ants on a Blog
By Jena Keenan