Title: Room By Room Makeovers Part 1

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Getting ready and going through remodeling. How to plan and research for your design projects and how to hire and work with a contractor to get it all done.

remodel, contractor, interior design, exterior design

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Copyright 2006 Melissa Galt

Getting Ready for Remodeling Know your options! Explore all the different styles and looks. Find what you like. Don’t get caught up in affordability at this stage. This is just the idea stage.

Create a wish file! Go through design magazines, catalogues, online and more, pull out pictures (don’t save the magazines). Keep in an accordion file or a notebook by room or by idea if only one room.

Research Contractors! Get at least 2-3 contractors for each type of work. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, get both written and telephone references on each. Many will have fellow contractors they recommend; this can shorten your search for qualified installers significantly.

Get Quotes! Schedule time to have several contractors out at once to quote the various phases of the job. For example, just today, I had a dozen contractors out between 9-noon to quote at least 6 different phases of work I plan to have done. This method saved me time and still made it possible during the day. While I don’t generally have two from the same field in at the same time, it can happen. I find that it usually makes them more negotiable, knowing there is active competition.

Establish Your Investment! Once you have all the quotes in, you can decide what you are comfortable moving forward with now, in 3 months, in 6 months, and next year. Saying you can’t afford something before you know actual expense is a futile and ridiculous statement! Don’t second guess, get the facts and make an informed decision. Be sure to consider the big picture and long haul, and don’t cut corners in the short term that will come back and bite you in the long haul.

Schedule! Knowing the contractors’ lead times and materials delivery times will help you to schedule the work in the proper order (you can hire a general contractor to do this, or go for it yourself.) If in doubt, ask the contractor whether he/she wants to go before or after another contractor (flooring before or after paint, that is the question!?). Create a calendar with start dates and deadlines. Be sure any agreements signed include a clause for penalty to the contractor for delays and missed completion dates.

Follow Up! Go through and do a punch list for every contractor completed before paying the balance in full. It is infinitely more difficult to have them come back out once paid in full! Get smart and keep at least 10% of the job until you are satisfied.

Celebrate! Plan a remodeling party! Celebrate even small successes, a new floor, an incredible paint color, added crown moulding, new light fixtures. It all makes for a more beautiful life!

General Contracting When Remodeling If I hired a G.C. it would be an average of 20% on top of my project cost, so needless to say, I have decided to run it myself. Having acted as General Contractor without the benefit of the fee for several clients, I have a clear idea of what it takes. First and foremost is a gift for scheduling and then follow up, follow up, follow up.

Firm quotes and timetables are essential! It is critical to ensure that you have in your agreements with contractors a clause stipulating completion deadlines and consequences for failure to adhere to these. Of course, I do understand that a wall or floor opened up can yield surprises, but what I am talking about is when a job is a runaway and the contractor is juggling too many others and you are low priority. My contractors are all well aware of the deadlines, that other teams are dependent on their completion and that they will lose monies if completion is not timely.

Scheduling is the key! I always check with each contractor to ensure that he/she is fitting in at the right timing. For example, in this project my painter wants to get in before my carpet installer and do touch ups afterward. The carpet man prefers this, so that is how it will work. The siding specialist has asked that the stone veneer get installed before he tackles the rest of the house with siding so, again, I have scheduled that into the plan.

Keep close tabs! I talk with the contractors at least weekly to confirm the existing schedule, before we even get started. It is a tight one. Right now, we kick off on July 1 weekend with a contractor willing to work through the holiday. While he is working on an interior/exterior window change and dormer remodel, the stone talent will be on site working on the other half of the house getting stone veneer up. One week later, July 11, my siding contractor will get to work. Meanwhile, my painter will be on the job doing interior work from July 1-11 and my carpet installer will be in July 11 to complete his aspect.

Plan daily jobsite checks! The vital consideration in this is to realize that if you are not familiar with a job in progress, it may cause some panic. Fortunately I am familiar and also willing to be flexible with changes that may arise and create solutions on the spot. I can also make needed design modifications as required. This is very important. I have had a client that literally impeded progress on his job as he was unwilling to allow them to get to a point of progress that would be appropriate for inspection. He didn’t understand the steps in between and jumped in to say it was all wrong and had be torn out and redone. This is counterproductive, unnecessary, and negates the point of hiring experts like a designer, builder, and contractors to get the job done.

Say thank you! All too often owners forget to say thank you to the contractors working on their projects. It isn’t enough just to pay them. Remember to write a letter of recommendation if you are truly pleased. These letters can ensure future jobs for the talent hired.

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