In my time working in real estate I have found that every property comes with it's own unique sets of challenges, especially properties that need repairs or renovations. The very idea of tearing down a space, however small, and rebuilding it from scratch can be terrifying. There is a lot to stress about- Will the contractors do a good job? Is the price right? How much of a mess is this going to make? To help ease the stress of home renovations, Here are 5 tips based on mistakes I've made and lessons I've learned:
1. Never Just Get 1 Bid - Most of us aren't experienced enough in the world of general construction to know the exact cost of specific jobs, so the best way to know if the price is fair is to compare quotes from multiple contractors. This is where you want to get good referrals from friends and family (think of someone you know that recently renovated their home) while also searching online and reading reviews. 3 is a good number for a short list of potential contractors.
2. Know Your Material Costs- Take a quick trip to your favorite general hardware store and start to familiarize yourself with some material costs. Bring a note pad and paper, or go online, and look at things like flooring material, tile, paint, fixtures, appliances, backsplash, kitchen cabinets, etc. If you have measurements of the space you are renovating use that to figure the cost per square foot. To save time pick out all the materials in advance and have the contractor pick them up later.
3. Plan Carefully & Avoid Extras - If you've ever received an estimate for a home improvement job, you will notice that it is very specific. In other words, if a particular job is not on the estimate chances are it won't get done. Adding these forgotten items later can be very costly. Take your time and go over the plan carefully with your contractor. For example, do you want to add recessed lighting or built in speakers before you fix the ceilings? Is this a good opportunity to wire in a security system? Try to include everything in one estimate so you don't get hit with extras at the end.
4. Know the Subcontractors- When you hire a general contractor for a remodeling job you are also hiring the subcontractors that the contractor works with. Make sure to check your itemized quote so you can see the charges for electrical, plumbing, roofing, or any other subcontracted work. Make sure to take each subcontract apart and negotiate each one. Also get the names, company info, and license number from each subcontractor.
5. Establish a Pay Schedule- The pay schedule should be structured in a way that allows for portions of the total balance to be disbursed only when specific milestones are achieved, For example, a typical pay schedule may call for an initial payment for material, a payment after demolition, and another payment after rough plumbing & electrical work. Hold the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the job and the contractor has passed all the necessary city inspections and permits have been closed.
Major home improvements can be stressful. Hopefully this will save you money on a future project! For fun, I put together an album wiith some videos and before/after shots of recent home renovation projects my partners and I have done.
Check it out here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7nyfltr8kevs150/AAANafZVwimIx4G-rXGiRFUwa?dl=0
At Realty 33, We tap into 25+ years of experience and market know-how to help our clients make streetwise real estate decisions.