Nailing It Down
By Dave Murnen
and Pat Beaty
For many people, remodeling their home is a dream that becomes a nightmare.
Stories abound of folks whose remodeling projects took on a life of their own – taking twice as long and costing twice as much as they expected.
Some cost over runs and delays can’t be helped, but many can. Here are a few hints to get you going with your project.
The proof is in the planning
In last week’s column we mentioned how important planning is. Some things bear repeating: Planning, planning, planning is the key to success in any remodeling project.
Plan the project itself, plan the timeline, plan the budget. Of course, rarely does everything go by the plan but having a plan to refer to, to consult, even to alter, can make the world of difference.
Who’s doing the work?
Are you planning to do the work yourself, have friends help or hire a contractor? Think through each of these options carefully.
If time is a big concern, you may want to look at hiring someone else to do the job. even if you’re a gifted craftsman.
You know what they say about the cobbler’s children going barefoot? Well, sometimes the best choice for even a contractor’s remodeling project is having someone else in charge.
But if you’ve got talent, patience and more time than money, remodeling or adding on to your house might be a fulfilling adventure.
If friends have vowed to help, you be the judge. Do they have the abilities and desire to help you see it through to the end or do you just need their help for a small part?
Whatever their involvement, it always helps to make things crystal clear up front. Are they doing you a favor, putting up sheet rock for a pizza feast or are they expecting you to help them re-roof their house next year?
If you decide to have a contractor help you remodel your home, there’re a few easy tips to finding a good one.
Picking a contractor
There’re plenty of excellent contractors in Grays Harbor.
To find which one is right for you, talk to everyone you know who has had construction or remodeling work done. Talk to others in the business. And, as you narrow your choices down, talk to those who are currently having work done by the contractors you’re interested in. Examine their work. Are they on time, on budget, easy to work with, tidy? What’s important to you?
Talk to the contractors themselves. Find out how many other jobs they would be working on while they’re doing your job.
Then make sure to check with the officials. Make sure they have a business license. Check to see if the state department of Labor and Industries , the Better Business Bureau has had anyone file complaints against them. Contractors also need to have proof of insurance with plenty of coverage for all the projects they are working on at one time.
Once you’ve narrowed your sights down to a few different contractors, ask them to bid on the project from a written description. Be as specific as possible. Do you already know what kind of hardware you want on your cabinets? The kind of light fixtures and rugs? Put it down in writing. You’ll get more accurate bids.
You’re not obligated to go with the lowest bidder, but having more than one company bid gives you a better idea from which to make your decision.
Your friend, the building inspector.
Especially if you decide to tackle your project on your own, get to know your local building inspector.
Many folks are wary of building inspectors, viewing them warily as an enemy instead of an ally.
But your local building inspector and building department can truly be a great resource. We’re fortunate in Grays Harbor to have many knowledgeable, helpful officials whose goal is for your home to be safe and sound.
It’s much easier to consult building inspectors early on with any questions or concerns than to battle with them after you’ve done something that doesn’t comply with the latest code.
Remember that we at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services are available for a reasonable fee to help you plan your remodel or even help you manage the contract.
Dave Murnen is a construction manager and Pat Beaty is a construction specialist at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services at 533-7828 or visit at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.