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The Dos and Don'ts of Home Improvement

Posted by Michelle DeCamp at 12:04 on 02 Aug 2011
Really Useful

Building your dream home can sometimes seem like a nightmare – we all know at least one person who endured unforeseen costs, shuffled-around end dates and cranky contractors in his or her quest for the perfect home improvement project.  But these speed humps along the road to homeowners’ bliss can be avoided with a clear idea of your budget, a well-mapped plan of attack, and a competent contractor.  With this sprinkling of suggestions from Elle Décor, you'll be on your way to a relaxing refurbishment in no time!


o    Be choosy with your contractor: this person will be with you every step of the way.  Be sure you choose to work with someone that (at the very least) you are comfortable speaking to, as the process should require a lot of open communication.
o    Ask for a contract.  Having on paper the start and end dates of a project, costs, payment schedule, project minutiae and terms of employment can make all the difference in the long run and will reduce the chance of surprise costs and unexpected hang-ups.  Be sure you detail in the contract how these will be handled as well.  If a contractor seems wary to nail down some dates and specifics, you may want to reconsider.
o    Create a directory with all the names and contact information for the people working in your home.  This is your dream home – be sure you can contact the right people when you have a question or concern about the way things are coming together!
o    Ask about insurance; everyone working in your home should be insured in the event of an accident or injury.  You could be liable otherwise.
o    Nominate a decision maker within your own household.  You can avoid a lot of confusion if only one person is dealing with the step-by-step procedural side of the project and then reporting back to the rest of the family.
o    Plan, plan, plan.  Knowing such details as how many electrical outlets you’ll need can make for a more accurate cost estimate.
o    Prepare the construction space – remove any valuables or breakables and be considerate of the people working in your home.  They will need space for tools and other items, so be aware of what space is available and do what you can to create an efficient work environment for them.
o    Set boundaries.  As it’s your home, you should feel comfortable indicating where the workers may go in the house.
o    Inspect regularly and especially once the project is completed.  Do a walk-through with the contractor so any questions can be answered and concerns voiced.


o    Disappear.  Be present through the process and a regular fixture near the job site.  You should make yourself as accessible as possible to the workers on the project and they should extend the same courtesy to you.
o    Micromanage the crew.  Although you should make a point of being actively involved in the process, it is better to speak directly with the foreman on a regular basis than to act as supervisor for the whole operation.  This behaviour also undermines the foreman’s authority and is a fairly quick way to sour that relationship.
o    Be mum about your budget.  If money is tight, say so.  A knowledgeable and competent contractor will bear this in mind and offer some solutions that could save you a bundle. 
o    Rely on your imagination.  Where possible, take a look at and test out anything new going in your home.  This includes paint and fabric samples, furniture and more permanent fixtures as well.
o    Be caught legally unawares.  Do your research and find out all you can about permits, regulations, restrictions and the like as they pertain to your project. 
o    Allow for demolition until materials have arrived.  You’ll need to be certain the anticipated appliances, windows, etc. are available before any existing items are destroyed.
o    Get disorganised.  Keep a copy of the contract, plans, specifications, and invoices in a clearly organised and labelled folder.
o    Expect the workers to watch pets or children.
o    Lose your patience: remember that, even when there doesn’t seem to be, there’s an ultimate the end to the process!  You’ll be lounging in your newly refurbished home in no time.

For a  few more home improvement project essentials, click here!


The Dos and Don'ts of Home Improvement

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