Some Important Questions to Ask Before You Start the Home Improvement Project

So you want to put an addition on……sounds great, doesn’t it? And it can be if a few simple common sense strategies are applied.

To start with, PLAN, plan, and go over your plan, then put it away and look at it again in week. And repeat the process. Is this what you want? A master bath with adjoining bedroom? Or just a large master bedroom? What about closets? Access inside and out to the addition? Stairs? Plumbing? Electrical? Know what you want and have a budget. If you have a money tree feel free to skip these steps because they are vastly underated as far making a job proceed smoothly. Planning a job makes it so much easier, enjoyable, and budget realistic for everyone involved in the process.

Make no mistake, it will cost you money every time you change your mind on a project that has already begun. Time IS money to the contractor and no one likes to work for free, there may be a few out there that will do it for the simple satisfaction but I have never met this individual. Realize that every day a contractor has to backtrack, he has to pay his crew and self, insurance, taxes, fuel, probably purchase new materials for your change of heart, and it will set him behind to start his next job. You will be charged more money and your contractor may begin to get frustrated (especially if you have done this a few times). In a less reputable contractor, this frustration may equate into a job done in a less than stellar fashion.

Let’s say you already have your blueprints drawn and you are very happy with the proposed project and estimated budget. Now it is time to find your new best friend (hopefully), the contractor. The best way to start is to ask around. Word of mouth speaks volumes both in the positive and negative sense for a building contractor. Did your neighbor down the street recently have a second story added? Who did it and was your neighbor satisfied with the end product? Why or why not? If you receive a glowing review, get the guy’s name and number. If not, move on.

It is a good idea to start with at least three building contractors for an initial interview and or estimate. If you can’t get word of mouth references from friends or neighbors, try your local lumberyard. They are usually pretty familiar with the local building contractors and can help steer you in the right direction.

Before you make that actual call, sit down and write out questions you would like answered. These may include, but not be limited to:

Are you insured? Can you provide proof of insurance?
Are you licensed? Can you provide proof?
Do you have any jobs in the area available for me to see?
Can you provide references?
Will you be subbing out any of your work?
Do you have a rough time frame for start to completion for this type of job?
How familiar are you with the state building code?
Are you paid as the job progresses or a lump sum at the end?
Do you require a payment for materials before the start of the job?

It is a good idea to check with your local Better Business Bureau for any reports on the contractor as well.

It is also beneficial to have a contract and read it carefully. Does it include particulars such as the building contractor paying for a dumpster? Does the painting include two finish coats, rather than just primer? Are you satisfied that he will use new and sufficient materials? Who is responsible for obtaining a building permit? What will happen to the price if you change your mind or there is a sudden jump in material prices? What if the job is not completed in a timely fashion? And here’s one that hopefully neither of you will ever use: what are the clauses regarding suing one another? What happens if it rains two weeks straight halfway through the job?

In a perfect world, all of these questions (and more) will be answered before actual construction starts and you will find very little has changed throughout the job. But remember, above all else, preparation and planning are the key elements for a happy and successful building job.

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