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Home Renovation – 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Kanler September 15, 2017

Planning updates and renovations to a home are exciting times that require quite a bit of research and patience in order to ensure solid construction within your budget with minimal stress.

Selecting the Cheapest Contractor with No Other Consideration

While paying more money doesn’t necessarily mean getting a higher quality of work, it is important to differentiate a good contractor from a cheap contractor. Working with contractors that have a solid reputation will not only streamline construction but also give you peace of mind that the job is being done correctly. Research should be conducted before interviewing contractors. Prepare questions to ask regarding the process and compare answers across the board. After interviewing contractors it is best to follow up on references, making sure the contractor is everything that they appear to be. Often times the cheapest contractors cut corners by using the lowest quality materials they can find and sometimes go as far as reusing materials from past jobs. Additionally cheap contractors tend to do work without filing for the correct permits and do work they’re not always qualified to do like electrical and plumbing. Finding a good contractor that will take the time to do things the right way will always pay off in the long run. Be wary of contractors looking for large lump sums up front instead of creating a detailed payment schedule based on milestones.

Failing to Hire an Architect

Not all renovations will benefit from the experience and knowledge of having an architect directly involved in all phases of constructions however, on larger projects there is no substitute for a good architect. Architects work directly with the general contractor to find the best balance between efficiency and building design. Their skills involve finding solutions to solve complex design issues while maintaining an aesthetically sound look while keeping structural integrity in mind. Being experts in seeing the bigger picture of the project, architects will ask the proper questions to ensure the final design is in line with the owner’s vision of their future home. An experienced architect will have vast knowledge of building code in order to prepare the proper paperwork for various building permits. Combining all these benefits will lower the cost of construction by ensuring things get done right the first time.

Architects charge based on size and complexity of the remodel. Some architects charge based on percentage of the entire price of construction or by square footage of the project. Since ground up construction is more straightforward fee’s tend to be significantly cheaper than remodels, 5-10% compared to 15-20%. The difference in price is for the difficulties combining older construction techniques with newer while ensuring architectural design doesn’t suffer. Alternatively architects can charge based on hourly rates in the neighborhood of $100-$250/hr. While these prices may seem like an unnecessary burden, they are in fact meant to save money on the project by mitigating risk by providing code compliant roadmaps for contractors.

Failing to Plan for the Future

During construction it can be easy to lose sight of the future. Being able to keep up with gaining technologies, preparing proper provisions for future improvements and maintaining market and property values should be planned for before it is too late. While walls are open or landscaping is being done during construction is the perfect time to start thinking about additional wiring or chase pipes in order to mitigate damage to walls next time a new technology requires hardwiring. Chase pipes are often overlooked can significantly lower the cost of future wiring installations. Installing chases from the basement to attic or from one side of a driveway to the other will save the homeowner from having to do damage to their walls or having to rip up asphalt when a new circuit needs to be ran.

Disproportional Focus on Aesthetics Over Foundation

While it may be easier to focus solely on the appearance of the renovation, it is important to keep the structure and utilities of the house in mind. When renovations allow for open walls during any phase of construction then wiring, piping, and framing should be inspected. Ancient wiring, corroded pipes, or termite damage could force costly future repairs and damage to your renovations so it’s best to evaluate the conditions and upgrade as necessary. It may seem like a burden that was not included while setting the original budget however, in time these costs pay for themselves ten times over against servicing older utilities. Corner that have been cut during initial construction or prior renovations can be cleaned up before causing more problems that force owners will have to deal with in the future.

Failure to Set Realistic Budgets

During initial meetings with general contractors or architects the question of budgets will determine what can and cannot be accomplished. Before having this conversation it is common to come up with a list broken down into needs and wishes. Being able to differentiate what is a must and what is a want will help when looking to skim budgets as the nature of construction typically is more costly than anticipated. Having patience during the planning phase and being as detail orientated as possible will prevent scope-creep and lead to a project that is easier to manage with deadlines that are more accurate. If walls or floors are being planned on being ripped up then there is a good chance unseen costs will turn up and even more so if it is an older house being renovated. As an unwritten rule it is understood that your budget may increase 10-20% due to unforeseen problems or additional installments that were not initially planned like out of date code compliance.

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