Avoid home remodeling snafus
With approximately 20 million homeowners completing
home improvement projects each year, it's a pretty safe bet not
every one of them will be happy with the job.
True, there are no easy ways to guarantee you can
get the job done right and at a reasonable cost, but there are some
important steps you can take to improve the odds that you'll be
pleased with the job.
If you've been thinking about sprucing up the family
manse with a major or minor remodeling project, you have lots of
company. In 2004, homeowners completed about 50 million home improvement
projects and spent nearly $138.1 billion, according to the Joint
Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Home remodeling
projects offer lots of opportunities for increasing comfort and
enhancing lifestyle, along with potential pitfalls for the unwary.
Most people who are about to spend big bucks for a
new kitchen, bath, or other home improvement have two major considerations:
How much is this going to cost me, and how do I get the job done
While the so-called "high-end" market -- homeowners with
seemingly bottomless pocketbooks -- is one of the fastest-growing
segments of the remodeling industry, most consumers rank cost as
a major consideration in home remodeling plans. Prospective home
remodelers with pocketbook constraints are likely to learn one important
lesson early: The project will cost.
According to the Harvard study, the average do-it-yourselfer
who did a minor bathroom remodeling in 2004 spent $701. The average
for a major do-it-yourself bathroom remodeling was $5,186. For those
who relied on professionals to do the job, a minor bathroom overhaul
cost $1,712, a major remodeling, $12,272.
Obviously, the range from $701 to $12,272 is too broad
to help much in financial projections. To cloud the issue further,
these figures are averages. Bathroom and kitchen replacements with
price tags in excess of $100,000 are becoming less of a rarity.
Where you live is another variable in the equation
if you intend to have your remodeling job done by professionals.
Using data from 35 different cities, Remodeling
magazine's 2002 Cost vs. Value Report showed San Francisco and
Boston among the most expensive markets for remodeling, while Detroit
was among the least expensive.
The bottom line: You'll just have to tell several
local contractors what you want to do and get their estimates for
Most popular improvements
Kitchen and bathroom remodeling continue to top the priority list
for most homeowners. However, with more and more families choosing
to stay close to home these days, the addition of a comfortable
family room, incorporating the latest in audio and video technology,
is rapidly becoming a must.
Government studies indicate that 40 percent of a typical
home's energy loss is through poorly insulated and poorly fitted
windows and doors. Since cozier homes are energy efficient, window
and door replacements are the first home-improvement projects for
Locating a dependable contractor
"Selecting the wrong contractor is the No. 1 mistake in home
remodeling," says John DiPrimio, veteran contractor and owner
of DiPrimio Construction, Jenkintown, Pa. He offers these suggestions
to help you through the important job of finding the right contractor
for your job:
- Ask neighbors, friends, and family members for referrals.
- Get at least three estimates.
- Ask for references from the contractor and follow-up by contacting
them to see if they were satisfied with their jobs.
- Ask to see the contractor's insurance certificates, both general
liability and workmen's compensation.
- Check with suppliers to see if the contractor pays his bills
- Check with the building department in your community to see
if there are any unresolved complaints about the contractor.