The Truth About Remodeling
Remodeling is one of the most stressful journeys that one can undertake. Remodeling requires an investment of both time and financial resources. Nevertheless, each year, millions of people want and need to improve their homes. Often, selling their home and moving is just not time or cost-effective. Remodeling IS the answer. However; you do not want to become a victim of a "remodeling nightmare." You've heard time and again from friends and relatives, "Expect a nightmare. It will cost twice as much and take three times as long." It does not need to be that way!
You can fill the void experienced by Orange County homeowners who can't find an honest, reliable remodeling expert.
After 28 years in the remodeling business, I've seen it all! Here are the secrets to a successful remodel:
Secret #1: Have A Plan
Would you go off on a long expensive vacation without first planning your trip and taking along a road map? Of course not! To do so would be a disaster. Your trip would be full of unwelcome surprises and expensive changes. Remodeling is the same way. I've always said "anything carefully planed, properly executed, will be a success." A great remodeling partner helps you figure out what you want BEFORE you start by putting it down on paper and in the drawings. Professional designing with attention to the details will ensure that your project is on time, on budget, and beautiful!
Secret #2: Don't Start Until You Have Everything
Picture this - your contractor demolishes the bathroom (maybe the only one you have in the home). Three weeks later you're still trying to get him back. His answer to you (when you finally manage to get him on his cell phone) is that the bath tub was delivered damaged and the shower fixtures were wrong. He further informs you that the job is now delayed 4 to 6 weeks. Not a good scenario. Unfortunately, this is all too often a real scenario. You want and need a Contractor who will order all the required products, get them in, open the boxes and make certain they are the right color, not broken and fit together properly before scheduling your job. Never let anyone tear up your home until everything you need to keep the job on time and running smoothly is delivered and on site. Ensure your Contractor (demand) that they use project scheduling software that will show you by day, by activity, by whom, what will be performed. There are no surprises. You should know exactly what's going on each and every day.
Secret #3: Hire A Professional.
All Companies Are Not The Same Or Equal Remodeling is one of the largest investments you can make in your life and home. Remodeling also provides some of the highest returns on investment. For example, a properly constructed bathroom remodel can return over 132% of the invested value. A well designed and constructed kitchen can return more than 133%. In contrast, a poorly constructed and designed project can create damage that far exceeds the savings you thought you had enjoyed by hiring "the guy your friend used to paint his house." Only an experienced contractor with decades of hands on experience is truly familiar with construction and what can and can not be done. The best way to protect your assets and your personal belongings is to hire an experienced, licensed and insured contractor to build your project. Make sure there is a contract and professionally developed drawings that list and illustrate EXACTLY what you are getting. Your Contractor should provide you with consistent, pain-free, high quality remodeling.
Secret #4: Hire Experience - Real Experience
The remodeling and construction industry is full of "Jacks of All Trades." You wouldn't hire a barber to perform brain surgery so why would you hire a plumber to remodel your bathroom or a company that builds patio covers to construct a new kitchen? Hiring someone who specializes in your type of project increases the experience level which leads to a much higher quality project, a more efficient and timely project and a higher level of product and design knowledge. When you hire a Contractor, make sure they have at least 25 years of proven hands-on experience - experience working on the job, not someone managing from behind a desk. The best Contractors are those that continue to physical perform demolition, framing, drywall, finish woodwork, etc. regardless of their years in business. Although physically demanding, it keeps them fresh and up-to-date. It's these types of Contractors who really understand and know their business as they physically do it everyday - they know what their talking about and not just pushing a pencil.
Think about it. Do you want to discuss and then sign a contract to build or remodel your home from a salesperson or with the Contractor personally? Do you really think a salesperson knows the intricacies and details of building and remodeling... or are they merely interested in getting your business along with lots of expensive change orders after the project starts? Remember, almost all salespeople earn their living from commissions - the more revenue they generate the more money they make. Compare this to the actual Contractor who signs a contract with you. Once you agree on the price - that's it!
The physical, licensed Contractor, from day one, from the first meeting, should be your only contact. The truly professional Contractor, who physically works on your job every day, knows what their talking about. Only this type of Contractor can answer your questions and concerns with confidence! These Contractors are few, but they are worth their weight in gold.
You want the Contractor's team to be very experienced - not one that consists of day labors and journeymen. The really good Contractors have a team where each member has better than 20 years experience as craftsman in their trade. Don't trust your home or hard-earned dollars to anyone or anything else!
Secret #5: Let Your Contractor Purchase The Materials
I know. I know. You can save a few bucks if you buy that tub yourself and cram it into the trunk of your car. The problem is that most homeowners don't know what to buy, what fits with what or how much to buy. Making a mistake in product procurement takes a great deal of responsibility out of the hands of the contractor not to mention the inevitable blame game that can ensue if something goes wrong. Do you really have time to go back and forth from the plumbing supply house to return the wrong thing and get the right one... five times!
Secret #6: Don't Make Changes
Changes are the single largest cause of remodeling nightmares. You've done everything right so far. You've followed the previous five secrets but you just can't help yourself and you make changes during construction. Well... all bets are off. The schedule flies off track, your contractor can't manage his or her time and new materials have to be bought. The key to not making changes is to LOVE your plan and be certain that your team knows exactly what you want. Yep. Back to secret #1: Have a Plan. But don't just have one... LOVE IT! Don't sign a contract until you know exactly what you are getting... makes, models, colors, etc. Ensure that the plans, specifications, and layout are exactly what you want and then let the professionals go to work.
Secret #7: Expand Your Definition Of Cost
Initial price gives only a peephole view of the true cost of a remodel over the lifetime of your home. A low price may mean a good deal, or it may signify a lack of quality or durability. Or it may mean that some design, materials, or building costs are not included in the price. A higher purchase price can mean a better deal in the long run: you can actually reduce the cost of living in your home by choosing quality resource-efficient fixtures (lowering monthly utility bills) and durable materials (requiring less frequent replacement).
So, there you have it: Seven Secrets to Successful Remodeling. I'm confident that if you follow these Seven Secrets, you'll increase your chances of remodeling success one hundred fold.
Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD's Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor, http://www.dadsconstruction.com. (949) 380-0177
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About the Author
Dan A. Derkum