Steps a Homeowner can take to make their project go better:
A. Choose a good contractor: This is the single largest factor that will determine if your project is a success or a disaster.
1. Qualities: Honesty and Integrity, Education, Knowledge & Experience, Internal Organization, Involvement in Industry Related Associations such as NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), DAB (Dallas Association of Builders), NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association.
2. How to Find a Good Contractor: Check with the Industry Associations (NARI Directory), Ask other homeowners who have done similar projects as yours, Ask other trade people that you know and trust.
3. Ways to qualify a potential contractor: Ask for references (ask for a reference of a client who had a major problem on the job that had to be resolved), Be sure to call the references (ask questions about how the project went: was the job well organized, what were their communication skills like, was the contractor honest and knowledgeable, what were the strengths of the contractor and what areas would you like to see him/her improve.), Get a list of some of their trade partners (subcontractors) and vendors and call them. They will know what type of contractor that person is, Go and look at a project the contractor has done to see the actual quality.
B. Have a professional produce drawings, specifications and design work for your project. The money you spend on drawings and design work will produce the greatest savings for you during the production of the project.
1. Help the homeowner see the project before it is produced. Changes at this stage are easy to make and cost little to change.
2. The Drawings and specifications provide objective details to insure that the project is done correctly and if it is not done correctly, it will provide an objective standard to hold the contractor responsible.
3. The drawings help make sure that your project will meet all the building codes.
C. Make all Selections before the project starts if possible and if that is not possible make them as early as possible.
1. Ask the contractor for a schedule when he needs the selections.
2. Provide all the details of a selection (the make, the model number, the color, any ‘cut sheet’ available and any installation instructions).
3. If a selection should change, make sure the contractor knows about the change immediately and put the change in writing.
D. have the contractor part of any meetings with the decorator, designer, architect or engineer where possible. If not possible make sure than any decisions made are communicated to the contractor in writing.
E. Treat our contractor and his workers with trust and respect.
1. Do not constantly be looking over their shoulder while they are working. Look in periodically and if you have any questions, please ask someone.
2. If you think something is not being done correctly, in a respectful way ask for more information as to why the worker has chosen to do the task the way that he has done it.
3. Allow the process to be finished before making a judgement about the end product (ex. the tape, bed and texture process is a 3 or 4 step process).
F. Identify and communicate your expectations or ‘hot buttons’ with the contractor. Listen to his/her response to your expectations because sometimes it may require a change in how he does the task or your expectation may be one he can not meet.
G. Pay Promptly.
1. Make sure there is an agreed upon draw schedule for your project before the project starts.
2. Most contractors do not have the cash reserves to fund your construction project out of their own pocket, but are using your money to complete your project.
3. Get change orders in writing.
H. Communicate directly with the contractor or project manager, not the trade partner or the worker, about issues on the project.
1. Only one person should be directing the project, otherwise critical details can get missed or left out.
2. Do not try to hire a trade partner or worker to do work on the side for you.
3. If there is an issue with a trade partner or worker on the project, take it directly to the owner or project manager.
I. Budget for extras
1. The average job runs 10% to 15% over budget or over the contract price.
2. Approximately 90% or more of the extras are because of changes or additions the homeowner has made.
-Bob Holte, CR, CLC, owner R.H. Residential Renovations