With the increased enthusiasm of HDTV, Pinterest and Instagram, awareness for home renovation projects is at an all-time high. More and more people are looking to update their homes with modern or vintage finishes. In addition to awareness for updating homes, the desire to remodel has also been increased because of the lack of homes for sale. In the Pierce and King county areas, there is simply not enough homes for sale to allow people to easily sell their home and find a move-in ready home. In many price points, there is less than ONE month of active inventory available. With all this demand to complete renovation projects, it is important to know what to look for so you can have a positive experience renovating your home.
Over the years we’ve have heard some real horror stories from people that have hired contractors to complete a home renovation project. Most of the problems we’ve heard stem from two primary areas; 1) Communication: Many of these people have felt that the contractor just didn’t listen to their goals. And the contractor did not give clear and consistent updates as to progress and/or challenges. 2) Budget: This is by far the most communicated problem of renovation projects. Many people feel like they are being taken advantage of when budgets rise and there is not clear communication that helps them understand why. So here are a couple things that we highly recommend when moving forward with a contractor to complete a home renovation project.
1) Clearly defined goals written on scope of work document; Have your goals of the project been clearly defined in a scope of work document within the contract? This is where consumers can rely too much on trust with communication. This creates a potential gray area or confusion. From my experience, if it’s not written down, it won’t likely happen. Before moving forward with a contract, make sure that the goals you discussed for the project are clearly identified in writing as part of contract. In addition, make sure the scope of work document shows a start date and completion date. Confirm how updates on progress will be communicated so you know if things are on schedule.
2) Clear and concise budget; Have clear budgets been listed on the contract associated to the scope of work. The scope of work defined on contract should be accompanied with a firm budget. The only thing that should alter the budget is a CHANGE ORDER. The change order should be part of the contract and also spell out what would initiate this change. The change order should be signed by contractor and clients when one is initiated. For purposes of education, a change order falls under one of two categories; a) the client has determined they want to change something from the original scope of work as defined in contract or b) once the contractor initiated work, there were unknown issues that must be resolved. Meaning things they could not see when providing the initial budget. Could be things like plumbing issues behind walls, dry rot of sub-floor or problems with electrical. These are the types of things that can come up but again, this should fall under a change order where contractor makes client aware of what they see and provides a change order showing the clear budget.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all possible problems that can occur on a renovation project, but from my experience they are by far the two areas of concern that are most common. It is quite possible to complete a renovation project and be happy with the experience. Make it your goal to work with a contractor that follows these two steps and the likelihood of a good experience is much higher.