Dream simple. Dream in Black and
white. Recognize your needs and
estimate the simplest
solution. This project will
quickly balloon if you let it. Look at
the money in your wallet/bank account and bid it
adieu. If you have a
spouse, make sure
you both have the same dreams. It's a lot
easier to understand the
sacrifices you're both making for something
you both want
than for one partner to make sacrifices
other's enjoyment. And there will be sacrifices.
Go to the
library and look at magazines
appropriate to your needs. If you
bathroom, stay away from
bedroom magazines. Stay away from color
and textures. If you can make do with
an improvement or conversion of
an existing room, do so.
Unless you are competent at
drawing, use graph paper and measure the room you're
converting. This is to help
you better express yourself. The people
selling services and supplies can
understand a 2-dimensional bathtub in
a 5 foot wide
room better than your description of
Talk to an
electrician and a contractor about the construction cost.
for an estimate on each of
the parts. If you can do
dry wall, then you can save money.
Don't do roofing unless you already have twice
before, at least.
Likewise, windows. Don't do electricity unless you
really can; high school science doesn't
count. Look at the cost
estimate and reconsider.
Hire an architect
for complicated jobs.
For one room,
it may not be worth it. But
it won't be very
expensive, either. Your city
planning office will appreciate the
architect's drawing and is more likely to
permit your project. Part of
the value of your architect
is that he'll prompt your thinking, "do
you really want
full clear windows to the outside in your shower?" Talk
spouse about what the architect
asks you. Also ask the architect
for recommendations on
contractors. Ask the architect
what permits you
6. Go to the bank and apply for
a loan for at
least 10% more than you think the job will cost.
if you are
doing the work
yourself, there are cost overruns.
about recommendations on contractors and permits, because you don't
the room unroofed when the rains
The loan officer may also be
able to help with this.
building permits as well.
If you are
in the City, there is a
city building permit; County, county.
Talk to several
contractors about your project.
Request a written itemized
estimate for the cost
of work, including abor and
materials. Note that you may not wish to
go with the low bidder, but also that
price is not
necessarily quality. Reputations are very
important; that's why you
were talking to so many
people about contractors.
usually willing to negotiate the price.
If portions of the work
seem easy, or within your
skill range, you
may wish to complete them yourself. It's
also a wonderful feeling to know that you
completed portions of the remodeling, assuming it is completed
satisfactorily. Most people that are at all
handy can hang
sheetrock/dry wall (that white stuff that comes in 8ft x 4 ft panels.
11. You may
also wish to
include in the contract provisions for completing before the rains
Or at least
completing the roof before the
You will have to accept the
guessing the day for
beginning rains. No
reasonable contractor, except in Arizona,
will promise to
work before it rains, but he
able to finish
before October 15, for example. For
you may specify that the roofing will be complete by October 15th or deduct
$5,000 from the
cost. You won't get it
12. Select, Hire, Contract a
Schedule weekly visits
with the contractor or
foreman to discuss
progress. You don't
want to get in the way of the work, but
you don't want something to progress too far
before it gets fixed. This
is where that
10% extra begins to disappear.
Plan your construction to begin
in the early part of the dry season.
• Go to the Community College and
take a class on remodeling, painting, roofing, so that you can
appreciate the work they are doing, and you
will happily fork over your money.
• At the community College, ask
the wood shop instructor or remodeling instructor for recommendations
• Make friends with everyone in
your remodeling class. Practice on their rooms/houses first.
• Most craftsmen get paid fairly
for their work and they do the job efficiently. If you can frame a wall
well, it'll take more time to fix (or hide) it.
Consider a fair cost for your time and labor: if you are making
do you really want to muddle through a job that
someone knows well and can do for $10/hr?
Unless you are neurotic about
planning, there will be changes to the plans as you progress in the
sure you have 10% additional funds
over the contractor's estimates. Even so,
he may have
and charge more than estimated.
• Bring non-alcoholic drinks or
snacks to the employees once a week or once a month. It's nice, keeps
things friendly, and doesn't get in the way
much. If you are in America and happen to offer alcohol and
accept, or if you observe that they brought alcohol,
then you have hired a poor choice for alcohol. I
have no problem with
alcohol when relaxing, but your contractors are
using dangerous equipment that
requires all their concentration.
• Don't discriminate against employees
that have lost fingers or limbs to construction accidents. (S)he
probably learned a lesson. Otherwise,
the contractor is required to have insurance.
Thank the employees; praise their