I've noticed that many CasaSugar readers are in various stages of home renovations, and I, for one, am very impressed. I've always wanted to try remodeling a house, but I've heard so many horror stories about runaway costs and unreliable contractors — not to mention relationship troubles — that the prospect scares me a bit.
So I was excited to run across Home magazine's list of the dos and don'ts of home renovations. Here are some handy tips for updating your house without losing your sanity.
- 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.
- Don't be an absentee homeowner. Communicate with your contractor daily by phone or e-mail, and meet once a week face-to-face.
- Do ask for a contract. A good contract should cover the following: start and finish dates, total cost (include how add-ons will be handled), a payment schedule, names of all parties, contractor's license number, description of project, and provisions for early termination. If necessary, consult a lawyer.
For more dos and don'ts,
- Don't micromanage the crew. Instead, schedule a weekly meeting with the job foreman to discuss progress.
- Do be wary 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.
- Don't undercut your contractor. The quickest way to sour a relationship is to hire a member of the contractor's crew to do work after hours for less pay.
- Do create a directory. Record in a notebook contact information for each person working in your home.
- Don't be shy about what you have
to spend, especially if money is tight. Everything should be in the contract.
- Do ask about insurance. Anyone working on your home needs it. You're liable if you hire an uninsured contractor and one of his crew is injured.
- Don't rely on your imagination. Ask to see color swatches and paint chips for finishes before you order materials.
- Do nominate a decision maker. The easiest way to prevent "he said, she said" is to appoint one family member to deal directly with the contractor and to update everyone else.