I’ve seen a lot, in the building refurbishment and home repair and remodeling industry over the decades, about which I could probably write many books about, if there was enough time. But for now, here is some advice to help you avoid some home remodeling disasters that I have seen happen to others and a few minor ones that happened to me as well.
Please read this very carefully, it could possibly save you money, time, your sanity, even your marriage or relationship with your partner, to name a few. We should learn from other people’s mistakes and not just our own. Don’t be one of those people.
Important issues you must consider and plan for in advance to keep out of trouble with your remodeling project are:
1. Have the necessary permits before you start work.
After you finished the job it was time for admiration as you thought you did a great remodeling job only to discover that you actually needed a permit for the job. The permit might not be required depending on the job but if you are removing walls and adding new space for example, more than likely, you would need a permit. It would mean the relevant plans and specification done by the engineer, architect or possibly the builder.
2. Related to the permit question is the issue of your remodeling work complying with regulations and the building code.
The plans and paperwork have to comply with the regulation and building code when you get the permit, but the role of the inspector who comes out to check on your project is also to keep workmanship and site safety to an adequate standard.
He or she would check that your project complies with the building code and other regulations and that safe work practices are adhered to.
It is in your interest to have that permit, if required. In having a permit some time during the remodeling but before it’s finished the inspector would point out things that have to be changed and corrected which would be hard to do once the job is finished. At the same time you would feel better knowing that the workmanship is of at least an adequate standard.
3. Choose the contractors and tradespeople you will give the job to, well.
Don’t be fooled by the smooth talking salesperson or a builder, giving you promises and empty words. You should see their previous remodeling work for your self, their warranty conditions and should come recommended by a trustworthy friend or relative.
4. Check if the contractor has the necessary insurances and check what type of cover you will need yourself.
Don’t trust the contractors on his word. Demand a written certificate of currency fro the contractors insurance company.
5. Have a contract with detailed scope of works and specification attached with it. The more detailed and specific it is the better.
It can get very ugly during or near the end of your home remodeling project, when you realize that the contractor is demanding more money or that he is not doing all the work that you thought would be done if the scope of works is too vague on exactly what is included, or not included in the contract.
Having a detailed and specific scope of works and detailed specification of all fixtures, materials and finishes with costs included will be good for both the contractor and yourself.
You will not have a good outcome of your home remodeling project if the contractor in the end is not happy as well because of misunderstandings and bad communication with you.
6. Do not leave too much money to the contractor in the way of an initial deposit, before he commences work. Leave an initial deposit only when the contractor has arrived on site and work commenced, while the progress payments should only be made for the amount of estimated completion.
7. Under no circumstances pay all the money to the contractor until the job is inspected and completed.
In case of you having the local authority inspector needing to do the final inspection before you can use the space to live in, then keep a good portion of the money to pay until that final inspection is completed and all the defects repaired.
You have to honor the contract but there should be a clause in it, stating that you have to pay the final installment only after full completion.
It is probable that if you pay everything before the job completion it will be hard ton get the contractor back to finish and fix defects.
8. Have enough money to complete the job.
You will find that if you don’t have the money and resources to complete your project, it could lead to all sorts of personal and financial hardship and make life hard on the children and other family members.
Rarely does the remodeling project end up costing exactly what you planned for because there are always things that happen that you cannot foresee. So allow for a bit extra than you have estimated the cost to be.
By not being able to finish what you started and have the part of your home exposed to the weather, like unfinished roof or walls etc, you could end up having to redo a lot of the work you’ve done because of water damage and other issues arising from that.
If you intended to rent out the new space you are creating with the home remodeling you started, it could lead to a loss of income you were relying on.
If you did not have the money to finish your heating in the new space and the winter comes it could lead to water pipes freezing and causing a lot of damage for example.
At the end of the day nobody likes to run out of money and not be able to complete the job and the disruption to your life can be overwhelming if you have to live in that unfinished mess.
9. Treat work safety and health issues seriously and barricade off the remodeling work area for example, so that children and others do not end up walking into work area and injure themselves.
Make sure you use appropriate personal safety equipment like steel capped boots, eye protection and ear plugs to name a few.
Don’t try to use a ladder to do work that you could easily slip off if you need to use a jackhammer or a power saw for example. Make an elevated platform with trestles and planks or scaffolding if necessary. It is very easy to fall of the ladder or injure your back while trying to hold a heavy tool and work from a ladder
Keep the work area free from materials and rubble lying around the floor. Clean up the floors regularly to avoid injuries.
10. It’s important that you and the contractors know precisely the position of the main switch, valves for water, electricity and gas as well as other services while remodeling is taking place.
You need to be able to switch off electricity, water supply or gas supply very quickly in case of an emergency. For example, you are drilling a hole in the wall and hit and puncture a water pipe, which is not uncommon, so you need to know where you need to go to turn off the mains supply. That water could be spraying onto a power outlet close by, so you need to know where the main power switchboard is to quickly switch it off.