Starting a remodel project can be exciting; in fact, it is right up there with the feeling you had when you bought the home. These days, with interest rates at a 30-year low, it’s easy to turn your current home into your dream home. Obtaining a home improvement loan is the easy part; the hard part is the planning that takes place BEFORE you go for the loan. There are some potential pitfalls when doing a home remodel project. The following 10 tips may help save you time, money and, most of all, a whole lot of aggravation:
1. The most important thing to remember is: if you don’t have the talent and experience to do the job, don’t do it yourself!
2. Talk to and hire a local contractor that is certified and a member of a contractors’ association. These contractors don’t mind showing examples of their work and giving referrals of what they’ve done in the past, and they adhere to a strict code of ethics. They are your biggest resource in nailing down how much of a home improvement loan you will need.
3. Make sure the contractor you hire carries liability and worker’s comp insurance. Ask for the insurance information and verify it.
4. Find out if your local zoning and building laws will permit the project. Your contractor may be able to do this for you but make sure you verify it.
5. If you live in a community that has a homeowners’ association, make sure you check with them before you start your home project. It’ll help if you have your building plans, contractor chosen, and the zoning and building laws checked before you meet with the association.
6. Hammer out all the details BEFORE you go to the bank for your home improvement loan or sign the contractor’s agreement. Make sure the details of your home remodel are spelled out by the contractor ahead of time – right down to the brand, style and color of the kitchen sink.
7. Remember to build a cushion into your home improvement loan request to cover expenses for delays and miscellaneous extras. These things always happen, so be prepared. Your contractor will give you an estimate of how much money the job will cost, but ultimately it is your decision how much you borrow. You are NOT obligated to tell the contractor how much of a cushion you have; some contractors will take advantage of this information and find ways to charge you more. Make sure the money you borrow gets used wisely.
8. Make sure you know whom your contractor plans to use as subcontractors or product suppliers. Your contractor should supply you with proof when product suppliers and subcontractors have been paid. Request that this goes in your contract. Another option is for you to pay them yourself; this too needs to be stated in your contract.
9. After you receive your home equity loan/home improvement loan, make sure that the contractor stays on budget. This requires vigilance on your part. If something other than what was agreed upon happens, make sure you discuss it with the contractor and don’t let them proceed until you approve the change in writing.
10. Don’t cut costs on important items like appliances, flooring, windows, etc. Having money left over when the remodel job is done is great, but make sure you get quality. If you put something cheap into a home, it may not last; and you will find yourself doing the work all over again in a few years.
Remember, once the project if finished, you’re the one left holding the bag. If the new skylight leaks, the countertop collapses or the bathroom fan doesn’t work, you’re the one who’ll either have to live with it or pay to get it fixed. Also, if the contractor skipped out without paying someone for their services, the subcontractor can take out a lien on your house and force you to pay. Take your time when planning a home remodeling project. Make sure you use quality materials and quality people, and you’ll find you can avoid most of the problems and headaches that go along with a rush job.