Remodel a House
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 for the other's enjoyment.
And there will be sacrifices.
Go to the library and
look at magazines appropriate to your
needs. If you need another
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 building/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 greco-roman social
Talk to an electrician
and a contractor about the
Ask 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
to your spouse about what the architect
thinks and asks you. Also ask the architect
for recommendations on contractors.
Ask the architect
what permits you will need.
to the bank and apply for a
loan for at least 10% more than
you think the job will cost.
Even if you are doing the work
yourself, there are cost overruns.
Ask your friends about
recommendations on contractors and
permits, because you don't want
the room unroofed when
the rains begin.
loan officer may also be able to help
Apply for 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 labor
and materials. Note that you may
not wish to go with the low bidder,
but also that price is
are very important; that's
why you were talking to so many people
are usually willing to negotiate
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 4ft panels.
You may also wish to include
in the contract provisions for
completing before the rains begin.
least completing the roof before
the rains begin. You will have to
accept the responsibility of guessing
the day for beginning
rains. No reasonable
in Arizona, will
promise to complete
the work before it rains,
but he should be able to finish before
October 15, for example. For
example, you may specify that the
roofing will be complete by October
15th or deduct $5,000 from the cost.
You won't get it free.
Select, Hire, Contract a contractor.
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.
Each day, inspect
the work after
the employees have
left for the day. You
may wish additional electrical
sockets, lights, sinks than was
described in the plans. For most
of us, the physical
manifestation of walls
to understand than
if something doesn't seem
right, for example a bathroom
vent has no
outlet, tell the contractor
within a day of noticing it. The more
the work progresses, the more it will
bury those little problems. The more
the little problems are buried, the
more expensive to fix.
Don't try to take advantage of the
contractor; don't try to cut corners
much. While you may have the
money, the contractor has your home
and you hostage. The best is that you
both wind up happy with the outcome.
• 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
At the community College, ask
the wood shop instructor or remodeling
instructor for recommendations on
Make friends with everyone in your
remodeling class. Practice on their
Most craftsmen get
paid fairly for their work
and they do the job efficiently. If
you can frame a wall fairly well,
it'll take more time to fix (or hide)
it. Consider a fair
cost for your time and labor: if you
are making $25/hr.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 project.
Make sure you have
10% additional funds over the
contractor's estimates. Even so,he may
have underestimated,and charge more
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 they 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.
employees that have
lost fingers or limbs to
construction accidents. (S)he probably
learned a lesson. Otherwise,the
contractor is required to have
Thank the employees; praise their
This can cause stress on your
you can afford to stay in a hotel, you
may wish to, so you don't have to
sacrifice privacy, but it is NOT a
good time for a vacation.
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