Indeed it is true that most of the stories you hear about home renovations are replete with tales of cost overages, poor workmanship, delays and even lawsuits.
This is fairly typical and there are actually a number of good reasons the problems occur.
Most homeowners have little to no construction experience and even less experience dealing with contractors.
Table of contents
- How you can save money in house renovation
- 7 Easy ways to renovate a house without money
- 1. Make the improvements general in nature
- 2. Requirements drawn from local conditions
- 3. The area’s outlay should be given its due
- 4. External improvements are significant
- 5. Planning home renovating projects is imperative
- 6. Creating a budget outlay for the home renovating project
- 7. Amateur designs are unacceptable
- DIY Home Renovation FAQs
How you can save money in house renovation
Unfortunately a high percentage of residential renovation contractors are minimally qualified, minimally financed and have a questionable work ethic.
Many of these folks literally operate out of the back of their pickup truck while feigning a real business operation. In spite of this a number of them end up doing an acceptable, if not good job when all is said and done.
The biggest and most consistent problem in this scenario is frankly the homeowner’s desire to rely on verbal descriptions of the project as he sees it and on the contractor’s promises to get him what he wants for a price they mutually agree on.
Typically there is little documentation of the project beyond a standard form agreement usually created and presented by the contractor.
The homeowner knows that an attorney will charge a good bit to review the document and will likely add a lot of legal jargon to justify his fee, thus complicating the situation.
Again, the homeowner honestly wants to trust that the contractor is honest and competent and that he will perform as agreed so he ends up signing the written agreement assuming that all will be fine.
Little does he know that this contract, created by or for the contractor, is not only extremely vague relative to the project at hand but it is also weighted significantly in favor of the contractor in virtually any potential disagreement or conflict.
Often the lack of sufficient verbiage offers the implication or inference that the contractor is the professional in this situation, therefore the contractor’s interpretation of almost any project related item will be the correct one.
If you are a homeowner planning a home renovation this should make you very nervous (and cautious).
So how can you, the homeowner, at least minimize your exposure and maximize your control over the project’s outcome?
Simply stated the answer is “define your project”. This is something you need to do well in advance of your first meeting with a contractor.
Essentially the process is to describe what you want your project to include or to be in as much detail as you can.
Obviously different people will have different ways of describing things. While a drawing or set of drawings is probably the best and most reliable method of describing your project not every homeowner is equipped to create meaningful drawings of this nature.
You could hire an architect, engineer or even a knowledgeable drafts person to do this for you but the cost of getting it done properly may be prohibitive depending on your budget and the size of your proposed project.
The alternative is, of course, a verbal description of what you envision. Obviously this should be done in writing, although you can use a portable recorder to start out.
Essentially you would start in one of the areas to be renovated and describe, in as much detail as you can, what you expect. This would include removing walls, doors, windows, etc., possibly raising ceilings, moving electrical devices, cabinets, etc., etc.
At the same time you would describe the finished product that you envision. It is important to keep the demolition (removal items) and new construction items or descriptions separated to avoid confusion.
As you walk through the area to be renovated doing this, be sure to be reasonably methodical and consistent in your approach.
When this procedure is completed it is often best to get away from it for a day or two and then look back at the overall description.
At this point it is important that you walk back through as objectively and critically as possible and try to make sure your description is clear and concise and that the route of what you described as you walk through the ‘project area’ is logical.
Then, if you really want to be sure you have done what you think you did, have your spouse or a friend who has never seen the description walk through and see if they can follow the description and understand what you are after.
It is important to ask them to be very objective and to tell you about anything in the description that may be unclear, ambiguous or just sounds ‘silly’. An objective review by an uninvolved, unbiased party is an excellent check.
This process could save you untold amounts of money in cost overages and a tremendous amount of hassle related to what your intent was and what the contractor says he agreed to do.
Having generated, proofed and validated your project description you are now ready to meet with a contractor.
The description you generated together with any mutually agreed modifications to it should ultimately be attached to your contract or written agreement with the contractor as an official “exhibit”.
7 Easy ways to renovate a house without money
There is one issue that virtually every person on a home renovating project has faced. This issue is nothing but the fact that individuals do not analyze their projects appropriately with respect to their investment of time, money and effort.
For instance, the common preconceived idea is to look for a bit more space. This common preconceived idea usually ends up becoming complex.
The result is a home renovating project that started simply but slowly became more complex. Resultantly, before the individual knows it, the house has turned into a construction site.
Such a transformation can be attributed to bad decisions from the individual in charge. Your home renovating project does not have to turn into a full-blown construction project. You can keep this from happening by simply including the following advice into your plans.
1. Make the improvements general in nature
The first thing you should concentrate on is keeping the modifications as general as possible. This implies that your personality and your project should be treated as separate entities. Different people have various preferences.
Thus, if you are planning to sell your home in the future, then you need to consider other people as well. Resultantly, if you feel compelled to have some special change made, resist it.
2. Requirements drawn from local conditions
Special conditions exist in every area which must be respected by all the properties in it. For instance, you cannot expect to have an outside swimming pool in a very cold place. Similarly, putting wooden furniture in a rainy area is not advisable.
There are numerous examples of individuals undertaking home renovating projects out of whim and without any logic. Thus, it is significant for the home renovating project to take into account the environmental conditions of the area.
3. The area’s outlay should be given its due
Numerous individuals wanting to resell their property look to implement home improvement projects to get better prices. Still, they should consider that what they see as nice looking may not be the same for someone else.
By just conforming to the established look of the area, you can side step this problem. Thus, you should not give your property a modern look if your area has old-fashioned properties.
4. External improvements are significant
It is also significant for you to understand that a beautiful property would sell itself. If a buyer sees the improvements in the property as beautiful, he would feel tempted to buy it.
Thus, before you install the radiant floor heating facility, understand that the potential buyer will never get to appreciate it before making the purchase.
5. Planning home renovating projects is imperative
Spontaneity and home renovating projects is something that individuals think go well together. Resultantly, numerous individuals keep changing their home renovating plans on whims.
This can not only result in a significant amount of monetary loss but also a lot of wastage of time. Additionally, this method would also result in you making a lot more mistakes.
6. Creating a budget outlay for the home renovating project
Despite the fact that most individuals make budgets, not a lot of individuals are entirely honest about it. What this implies is that they do not disclose their true budget outlay to anyone for fear of being made to spend too much.
This is not good because it would result in bad materials and poor work. This would happen because of the low budget outlay that is given to the project manager.
7. Amateur designs are unacceptable
It is common for individuals with no experience to get hired for home renovating design work because of personal contacts.
This is caused by two things. While one is about finances, the second is about creating contacts. Irrespective of the motive, this is not the right way to go about the whole thing because the preference should be given to quality instead of contacts.
DIY Home Renovation FAQs
Are you thinking of renovating your house and you realize you don’t have the time or expertise to go the “DIY” (“Do It Yourself”) route?
This puts you in the majority and it’s likely that your most viable option is to hire a contractor to do the work for you. At this point a lot of questions arise:
Are the Contractor Horror Stories You Always Hear about True?
Undoubtedly you have heard horror stories of homeowners who have gone through this process. Unfortunately most of those stories are in large part true.
Can Contractor Related Problems Be Avoided?
It is without question that many, if not most of the problems, hassles and “nightmarish” results you hear about can indeed be avoided.
If These Problems Can be Avoided, Why Do They Occur Over and Over Again?
The most simplistic answer is this: What you don’t know CAN hurt you! Lack of knowledge about what to expect and how to maintain a degree of control over what is going to happen is the primary cause of these situations. If you have never been through the process, how indeed would you know what to expect? Indeed, how would you even have a clue what could go wrong?
Is There a Foolproof Method to Help You Avoid These Problems?
Unfortunately the answer is simply “No”. There is not a foolproof way. There are, however, ways to help you minimize them.
Can a Home Renovation Project Be a Pleasant Experience?
Is there a way to have a pleasant, positive and productive experience with a project involving renovating your own home while you are living in it? It is perhaps possible but certainly not likely. With little question you will, at the very least, be very much inconvenienced. At the worst your ‘normal life’ will be disrupted in ways you can most likely not even predict. There are, of course, exceptions but those are very rare indeed.
Murphy’s Law (“Whatever Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong”)
Is there a way to keep “Murphy” of the infamous “Murphy’s Law” away from your project? Not a chance! Murphy simply has to be acknowledged, accepted as a fact of life and dealt with. You can, however, minimize Murphy’s effectiveness. You can do that simply by gaining knowledge. It is important to understand that Murphy thrives on lack of knowledge.
If I Can’t Avoid The Problems, Can I Control Them?
Is there a way to minimize the hassles, cost overruns and other problems inherent in home renovations? Absolutely. Cover your bases, do everything in writing, check out the “players” carefully and spell out everyone’s obligations. Agree in writing to what each involved party agrees to do.
At this point you might ask ” How Can I Do That? “
On the surface that sounds easy…..Simply stated, get some guidance and advice from someone who has “been there and done that”. Take advantage of mistakes made by those who have lived through “the good, the bad and the ugly” of working with contractors on home renovations and other projects. Mistakes are wonderful things if you learn from them.