People often ask me why we started Synergy Design & Construction and it is always the simplest of answers: to help homeowners avoid renovation nightmares! Although there are many steps to having an incredible renovation experience, these top 3 mistakes should be avoided at all costs!
#1 Choose a contractor based solely on customer reviews
There are a number of online contractor review sites (Angie’s List and YELP among others) that tout a long list of “quality” contractors and while some of those contractors are indeed the cream of the crop, this one-size-fits-all approach can leave you hanging.
Do just a little research on Angie’s List and you will find story after story of people who got burned by using a contractor advertised on Angie’s List. Even after contractors have been proven to be unlicensed or uninsured, their ad remains; as long as they keep paying of course!
So look past those shiny reviews and find out if that contractor is actually licensed! Have they had any complaints with DPOR (Department of Professional Regulations)? Are they legally allowed to take on a project of your size and scope? Shockingly, the answer to those questions is often no. What happens if your project is $150k, but your contractor is only supposed to do renovations up to $50k??? Let’s just say, it’s not pretty if something goes wrong.
Check out these contractor questions that NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) suggest you should ask before hiring any contractor to come into your home.
#2. Get started too soon
Have you been dreaming about renovating your home since the day you bought it?! Most of us have areas in our home that would function better with a remodel or spaces that we wish reflected our style instead of the last owners. And by the time you reach out to a contractor, you are so fed up with your current situation, you want it done NOW.
Unfortunately, that enthusiasm can get you in trouble in the long run. If you rush your contractor to get started quickly, you won’t leave enough time for design! The next thing you know, your house is torn up, you’re making decisions about what to put where on the fly and you’re feeling overwhelmed by the whole process!
When you don’t take the time to make all of your selections ahead of time, you add unnecessary stress to an already trying experience for you and your family.
Taking time in the beginning to choose your materials BEFORE you start construction will make a world of difference for both you and your contractor.
#3 Not having a clearly defined scope of work
One of the most common complaints filed by homeowners with the consumer protection agencies stem from a disconnect between what the contractor thought the homeowner wanted and what the homeowner thought they communicated to the contractor.
Let’s say you choose a contractor and tell them you want to get started ASAP (this is prior to knowing tip #2).
They provide you with a contract price that looks good to you and you’re off and running. You’re excited, they’re excited, and you can’t wait to see it all come together!
Fast forward a couple of weeks. You’re in the showroom, trying to choose tile and realizing there’s NOTHING in the allowance you’ve been given that you like! Then you go to look at hardwood flooring. You remember telling your contractor you wanted a dark, wide-plank product that would stand up to the kids and dog, but quickly realize the only thing your allowance will get you is an inexpensive laminate or carpet!
Worst yet, you come home to find the contractor installed the recessed lights throughout your main level and they are all the 6” “builder-grade” kind, when you had asked for 4” LED!
Here comes the dreaded “change orders” you’ve always heard about. Next thing you know, you are way over budget, your end date delayed and all you want is for these people to finish and get out of your house!
A detailed scope of work as part of the construction contract is a must have for every homeowner considering a home renovation.
Choosing the right contractor for your job and ensuring your design is flushed out (and those details are clearly indicated in your contract documentation) are critical to a successful renovation. Creating that synergy from the beginning will go a long way to having you and your family actually enjoy your renovation.