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Dos and Don'ts of Home Remodeling

Dos and Don'ts of Home Remodeling

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.


Join The Conversation
sofi sofi 9 years
Just saw this and had to comment. We had a contractor that we had used for major renovations as well as smaller projects. Everything was great- I was home a lot but stayed out of their way and just checked at the end of the day or they asked for things or questioned things while I was there- we had a good relationship and we trusted them. Well, the head of the group 'retired' and his son who had been working along side him as long as we knew them (who we also had a good relationship with) took over. Well, we were horribly disappointed when we left them to do kitchen renovations while we were on vacation. The job was done half-a$$ed and I felt like we were taken advantage of. After all that time with the same guys, they actually thought we would be happy with the shoddy job. Well, we made them correct it to our satisfaction and never called them again. They were even more expensive than others, but we felt comfortable with them. It is just a job to them and you have to have everything spelled out for them and yourself. Whoo- that felt good to get off my chest- thanks :)
riokim1231 riokim1231 9 years
Totally understand, colormesticky! i think we're both talking about two extremes from either side. :-)we definetely didn't hover and knew exactly what we wanted. I think what i meant to say was you really have to be detailed with what you want and communicate exactly what it is you want. and i agree, it's not good for anybody to constantly change your mind.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
And I'm sorry if that sounds mean, I'm not trying to flame you or anything. :) I'm just parroting what my husband and brother in law go off about all the time.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
If you pop in in the morning and check up, riokim, no contractor will hold it against you. It's when you're hovering, bossing them around, and constantly changing how you want things that upsets them. Bossing around a construction guy (any kind) is probably the worst thing you can do, they take it very personally. Their logic is that you hired them, so let them work. If you want to be in charge, then grab a hammer and get to work. *shrug* There are guys out there who are lazy or terrible workers, but as long as the work is getting done and nothing is being destroyed, micromanaging only angers them. I'd rather have something that needed a second going over for finishing touches than an angry construction guy who hates you, hates your house, and rushes the job to get away from you. Rush jobs are only good enough to pass inspection.
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
your idea doesn't sound so bad as all that(hate mail etc) riokim! good tips casa. :) i hope i'll own a house someday and be able to use them!
riokim1231 riokim1231 9 years
I'm sorry but I have to disagree here. i don't usually post but here goes. i'll probably have to change my log on id to avoid all the hate mail? hate me as you may but i just went through a kitchen remodel and have to say that you do need to micro manage otherwise you may end up with holes in your cabinets that don't belong there or they end up cutting to pieces a piece of wood that was meant to cover the leg of your island to insert along your fridge when you never wanted it there............. I realize that the people we hire are the professionals and we do respect that but in the end, it's only a job for them, not a dwelling they plan to spend the rest of their lives in, raise their children (i have 2) and eventually plan to retire and watch their grandchildren grow in the same house. so you have to excuse us for being in the face and micromanaging a bit. sorry!
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
I might add another one: Don't bug the contractor face to face every. single. day. They hate you for it, you only slow them down, and the more stuff you change the longer it will take you to get your house back. My plumber husband shares his horror stories. I'll tell you, you're paying THEM to get under the sink. So stay out from under the sink, eh?
Lacyelmo Lacyelmo 9 years
I have to travel 2 hours to get method products. How great to win and have some delivered!
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