Home Remodelers Survival Guide #9- How to Ensure a Smooth Project

Good Communication
It is essential that you have an excellent flow of communication with your contractor. Does he return calls promptly? Does he listen intently? Does he take notes? Can you reach him when you need him? This will be even more important once your project begins.
Right Fit
You’ll most likely be spending a good bit of time with your contractor, so it is important that you feel comfortable with him. You should also have a good sense as to whether or not the same holds true regarding the members of his staff. It’s extremely beneficial if you both genuinely respect one another and even better if your personalities complement each other. A professional contractor will want a “customer for life” and will indicate the importance of this every step of the way. The bottom line: do you feel comfortable with this individual? Like any good relationship, a strong rapport and close communication with your contractor will help any job go more smoothly.
The scheduling of your project is something that should be discussed upfront. A responsible and reputable contractor will do his best to keep you informed both in the initial stages and as your project progress. Keeping you informed will help eliminate many headaches along the way.
A Clear, Well Written Proposal/Contract
Getting it in writing is absolutely essential! Nothing is worse than a disagreement because the terms weren’t written down. Frequently, one person remembers something differently. Make sure the details and specifications are clearly spelled out.
Every part of the job from the general conditions and demolition to the final trim and clean up should be clearly described. General terms like “install windows and doors” are too vague and should be clearly spelled out indicating exactly what window, what door, including make, model, size, features, location, color, style, etc.
This needs to be done for each and every item in the project. Without it, there is no way of knowing exactly what is included and what isn’t! To avoid any trouble, absolutely insist on crystal clear proposal.
A detailed, well-written contract will make your project run much more smoothly than one that is written poorly. A detailed contract should include (or at least make reference to):
A visual representation such as a blueprint, floor plan, drawings, sketches, etc. that clearly shows what work is being done and where. The timetable in which the project is expected to be completed, including approximate start and end dates. The price, along with payment terms and schedule.Very detailed specifications for all products and materials. The description of each item
should provide enough detail to clearly identify it, such as the brand name, model, color, size, etc.
Allowances may be used for any materials to be selected later, (for example, a special fixture). Such items are “limited” by the “allowance,” which is the amount within the price allocated toward the purchase of a specific item.
A list of work and/or things not included:
Insurance information.
Permit information (e.g. whether or not it’s required and who will get it)
Procedure for handling change orders.
Details on issues like access to your home, care of the premises, phone and bathroom use, cleanup and trash removal, etc.
Details, Details and More Details
There are several things that should be discussed prior to starting your project. What time will work start and end each day? How will pets be dealt with? What about the children? Where will materials be stored? What special circumstances need to be taken into consideration? Discussing details like these upfront saves a lot of aggravation and eliminates misunderstandings.
Remodeling can be extremely disruptive to your normal lifestyle. Remember to be as flexible as possible. For example, don’t plan a party based on the completion date or schedule overnight guests when your house is being remodeled. Be prepared to make some sacrifices and remember, whatever disruptions occur, they are temporary.
Change Orders
Changes are inevitable when it comes to home remodeling. It is next to impossible to foresee
everything in advance. There are always changes made to the design, the materials, and the scope of work once work begins.
It’s a good idea to set aside an additional 10% or more beyond the contract amount to cover these changes. It’s always better to plan for more than to come up short. There are also those inevitable “Oh, while you’re here…” things to do, too.
The bottom line is: Almost all changes will affect the budget and the schedule. Make sure all changes are in writing and are kept current to avoid any surprises in the end.
Written Lien Waivers
Often your remodeling professional will work with other tradesmen or subcontractors who specialize in certain aspects of your project. It is your contractor’s responsibility to make sure these people, as well as material suppliers, are paid for services and materials related to your project.
Make sure your contractor is willing to provide you with a written lien waiver at the end of your project in trade for the final payment. This is a document that proves that you have paid for the project in full, thereby eliminating the chances of the contractor’s subcontractors or suppliers placing a lien on your property due to not being paid by your contractor for the work performed on your home.