Does every remodeling job need a permit?
Building codes have been established by most cities, towns and countries. They vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. A building permit generally is required whenever structural work is involved or when the basic living area of the home is to be changed depending on where you live. A professional who works in your city or town every day will know local requirements. If your project does require a permit—and your remodeling professional asks you to pull the permit—this should be a red flag. The professional you hire should be in charge of obtaining the necessary permits.
How much should my remodeling project cost?
This really depends on the size and scope of your project. The materials chosen, the size of the room, and age of the infrastructure can all impact the project cost. Remember when you are comparing bids that you are comparing the exact same scope from each contractor. If a price comes in that looks to good to be true, it probably is. How much value will my remodeling project add to my home? This also depends on the scope of your project, and you may be surprised which projects add the most value. How long should my project take? This depends on the size and scope of your project, and what is found during demolition. Unforeseen problems can crop up once walls are taken down that require additional work. Ask your remodeling contractor for the most reasonable timeframe and stay in touch with him or her as the project progresses so you can plan for a finish date.
I have three different estimates, and the prices vary greatly. Why?
There are a number of different factors that go into pricing a remodeling project. Be sure that every estimate has the same scope of work. If the estimates are vague—meaning they don't spell out what work is going to be done— and you cannot interpret that information, it may be wise to eliminate that remodeling contractor from the process.
What about HOA approval?
This varies depending on the neighborhood you live in. Many are very restrictive while others are pretty lax. Again the contractor will provide you with whatever materials you will need for this process, including what to ask, but dealing with them is generally the homeowners duty. Your contractor is your support staff for this step.
What are the first steps in my remodeling project?
• Develop a list of priorities - what you need vs. what you want. If you need to cut costs this list will help you decide what you can do without.
• Establish a budget - How much are you able to spend? Where is your funding coming from?
• Get ideas! Look in magazines. Tear out pictures and circle what you like. Create and ideabook to share. Visit home shows and parades
The most important person on your team is the remodeling contractor.
The remodeling contractor is like the general manager and the manager of a baseball team. He will make the many different decisions involved in putting together the right group of people for your project. He will choose all the players.
How detailed is your contractor on the first visit.
Did your contractor get into details of your project from the very first day? Was the bid as detailed? This will usually determine if there are a lot of "surprises" once the project gets started.
Ask your contractor about a problem and see how he would find a solution to it. Also, see how well he makes suggestions on how to do some of what you want done. Does he have ideas, or just notes what you want. A good contractor gives ideas and can help with design.
What if my contractor wants me to hire an architect up front to design what I want?
Generally, you are not ready for this step this soon. A good contractor will help you with design and function long before you have to hire an architect, if at all. This is where his experience will be most obvious. Once you settle on what you want and how you want the layout, larger projects, and those that require permits generally require architectural drawings. Most smaller projects do not. Your contractor will know which ones do, and will help guide you through the process.