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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

Posts Tagged ‘renovations’

10 Questions to Ask Your Contractor

Hiring a Contractor

What questions to ask your contractor in advance of hiring them.  Most homeowners have some concerns when it comes to hiring home improvement professionals. Some are afraid of overpaying, some worry that they’re hiring an unqualified professional, and others wonder about the character of the individuals they’re inviting into their homes. Asking these ten questions can help alleviate all of these concerns.

1. How long have you been in the business or working in the industry?

Look for a credible track record and successful work experience.

2. Are you licensed, insured and bonded?

At the very least, make sure your pro is licensed and carries worker’s comp and liability insurance. Bonding is not a universal requirement. Think of bonding as homeowner insurance that protects you in case of an incomplete job.

3. Do you guarantee your work in writing?

While a verbal guarantee is nice, it offers no guarantees that the contractor will actually stand behind his work. Draft a written guarantee that states exactly what is and isn’t covered.

4. Can you provide references?

Ratings and reviews are a great resource, especially when coupled with references from previous customers. Ask your contractor to provide a list of references. Don’t hire pros who can’t offer references. I would also advise researching the Better Business Bureau to see any complaints that may have been filed against the company.

5. Do you pull all the required permits?

Failing to pull the requited permits can cost you in the long run. Have your contractor pull the necessary paperwork and permits to get your job started. Also require that they deliver copies of all closed permits once the job is completed. If your contractor is hesitant, find a new pro.

6. Who will be managing the project?

If your contractor isn’t in charge of your job, insist on meeting the project manager to ensure he measures up to your standards.

7. What is the project timeline and daily work schedule?

Construction scheduling is never perfect. Workers get sick, orders get delayed and weather causes interruptions. But an organized contractor will provide you with a work schedule that clearly outlines a start and end date.

8. Will you need water or bathroom facilities?

Most contractors are self-sufficient enough to bring their own water. But, unless your job is a major remodel that necessitates bringing in a port-a-john, there’s a good chance your workers will need to use your facilities. Dedicate a bathroom (or bathrooms) to your workers before you start your project.

9. Will you need my garage code or keys to my house? Who will have access?

Many homeowners feel uncomfortable handing over the keys to their home. Unless you plan on staying home during the construction, you’re going to need to give your contractor access to your house. Knowing who has the keys to your home will give you peace of mind.  You may feel confident with your ongoing security if you plan on having your locks rekeyed after the project is completed.

10. Will you sign a contract?

All worthwhile contractors will write out a clear contract that defines the work to be performed, as well as the material, costs and completion timeframes associated with the project. Thorough contracts also cover what happens if the project becomes problematic. This is known as a time and materials contract. The contract should also include a termination clause that spells out the circumstances in which both parties are allowed to terminate the contract.



Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper Home?

Buying a fixer upper  home comes with some unique advantages. For one, the price point for a fixer upper home  will be lower than a comparable home that is in excellent shape. By paying less for a fixer upper home, you can have more of an opportunity to customize and tailor it to fit your unique taste and personality. Indeed, many fixer upper homes are great investments for people willing to put in the time and effort to transform a house into a home. On the flip side, some fixer upper homes might turn out to be more of a cash pit than a profitable purchase. Before you start your search for a fixer upper property, here are a few questions to ask to ensure that you will get the right fixer upper home for your budget, abilities, and future goals.

Has a professional home inspector done a report on the house? 

It is essential that you use an Exclusive Buyer Agent that is working for you and not for themselves or the Sellers. They will be able to identify issues with the area and have resources for buyer oriented inspectors who will give a hard look at the property.

You should be prepared to pay for several inspections and secure cost estimates before you make a final decision on purchasing a fixer upper home.

Some problems in a fixer upper homes are obvious, while others might be hidden beneath the floorboards, walls, or surfaces. Having a professional home inspector check out the house before you buy will give you a realistic idea of what kind of condition the home is in and what repairs it needs.

How many repairs can you do on your own?

Minor aesthetic repairs, such as removing popcorn ceilings, painting the walls, or adding a backsplash to the kitchen can often be done on your own. Expensive repair bills come when there is damage to the structural integrity of the home. These types of repairs will likely require outside help to fix. For example, if the foundation of the home is warped or severely cracked, or if there is extensive termite damage, or the roof of the house needs to be replaced, you must hire an outside contractor. Without pricing these major repairs before buying the home, you could have a higher repair bill than you anticipate.

How much will each repair cost? 

Once you have your list of repairs, it’s time to dig in and start researching the price of each item to fix. For aesthetic repairs, visit your local home improvement store and speak with a sales associate about how much the supplies will cost. For any repair that requires an outside contractor, request bids from local shops. You want to get a realistic idea of what your home repairs will cost to make sure that you will not go over your budget.

Add 20% to your budget for all the unexpected costs that will come with any renovation project.

What expenses am I not considering?

You should take into consideration whether you will be planning to live on or off premises. It’s more economical to live on premises, but for those homes undergoing extensive remodels, this may be unpleasant or not even an option. But, if you do choose to live on the premises you will have to be prepared to live with dust – a lot of dust. Your home will be a construction zone for well up to a year or beyond.

If you plan on doing extensive renovations, then living in the home is not an option. You need to consider the costs of storing your belonging, cost of alternative housing, carrying the property while under renovation, etc.

How much value can you add to the home?

Ultimately, the goal of buying a fixer upper is to create a cozy place to live and to ensure that you will make a financially sound investment. If you find a fixer upper that you are interested in, talk to a reliable real estate agent or home appraiser about each major repair you’re planning to make so you can get a reasonable estimate of how much value you can actually add to the home. You can also take a look at other homes in the area that do not need repair to see what they’re selling for.

Fixer upper homes require you to do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line, and revamping a home can be an exciting experience under the right circumstances. With these tips, you can start your search for a home