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Spring has sprung, and if you find yourself with a nice tax refund or profit-sharing check, you may be in the market for some upgrades to your home. Before you embark on any project, make sure you start with proper planning so you don’t end up with a poor project.
While I love all the home improvement shows on HGTV and the DIY Network, you need to remind yourself that that isn’t the real world of remodeling. That includes the prices they use for renovations and the time it takes to get the project completed. Use these shows for generating ideas, not for setting expectations.
Get on contractor’s project list now. With the labor shortage in the home improvement business in our area, the longer you wait to get on a contractors project list, the farther out your project completion date will be. That means you have to start getting estimates ASAP. I recommend getting three estimates and checking references before choosing a contractor. Unfortunately, the best contractors are usually busy, so it may take a while to get those estimates and make your choice. But better to be delayed a few weeks before you start the project than be unhappy with the contractor you chose because you were in a hurry. And if you are just starting to get estimates now, don’t be surprised if the contractor you choose is already booked up for a month or two.
Have a realistic time frame. Finding a good contractor is just the beginning of your plan. There are plenty of other things that have to be done before you can even begin, including ordering products that may not be in stock and having the contractor pull the permits from the city. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to get a building permit or a month to get products like windows if you are ordering them. Remember, if you are embarking on a larger renovation you will also need to add the time it takes to review and approve designs or blueprints for the project. Add to that potential weather delays and final inspections from the city, and the project can take much longer than you thought to complete.
Research product selections to make the best choice. While contractors for some projects like roofing or siding can bring color and style samples for you to select at home, other projects like decks, windows, doors or brick pavers will require you to visit a showroom or store to make sure you get the right product for your project. With the explosion of product colors and options available today, it may take you longer to make a decision than you think. Unfortunately that adds time to your project start date, but it is the best way to make sure you get exactly what you want to match your home and your style.
Get a scope of work from the contractor. A scope of work is basically a contract that spells out all aspects of the project, including the project overview, project schedule (including specific start and completion dates), budget, payment schedule and specific products to be used.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into planning a project. But if you have realistic expectations and follow these tips, you will have a project you can brag about.
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