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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.
9.  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  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 4ft 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 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 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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