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How to Remodel a House


1.  Dream.  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 for the
     other's enjoyment. And there will be sacrifices.

2.  Research.  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.

3.  Draw.  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 norms.

4.  Talk  to  an  electrician  and a contractor about the construction cost. 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.

5.   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.

6.   Go  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.

7.   Ask  your  friends  about  recommendations on contractors and permits, because you don't want
      the room unroofed
when the rains begin. The loan officer may also be able to help with this.

8.   Apply  for  building  permits  as  well. If you are in the City, there is a city building permit; County, county.
      Different offices

9.   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.

10. Contractors are 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 begin.
       Or at  least  completing  the  roof  before  the  rains  begin.  You  will  have  to  accept  the  responsibility  of
       guessing  the  day  for  beginning  rains.   No  reasonable  contractor,  except  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.

12. 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.

13. 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  is  easier  to  understand  than  blue-prints.  Also,  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.

14. 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


    •    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
         on contractors.

    •    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 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 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
          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.
    •    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 work.


    •    This can cause stress on your relationships.

    •    If 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.

Source: wikiHow

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