10 steps to successful home remodeling

Is your remodeling dream financially feasible? Ask a lender. Too many homeowners call an architect and contractor first. They may spend thousands of dollars only to find they can’t afford their dream remodel and must revise their plans.

Ask the lender for input on whether the kind of remodel you want is right for your neighborhood. Find out what work will add equity to your home. Also ask for sales and price information on larger homes in your neighborhood. You might find it’s not worthwhile to remodel your home.

Does your area have building restrictions? Many cities and homeowner associations impose limitations. Contact your planning and building department for any restrictions on the work you’d like to do. Also ask: How long is the approval process? What are the costs and plan requirements? Are there any special assessments or fees? Is there a design review board? Is there a size limit for a structure based on the size of the lot?

How do I begin the design phase? Assuming that you’ve already met with your lender and checked with the planning department, you’re ready to start sketching a preliminary design. Do you need an architect or contractor? This depends on the scope of the project. Architects may be needed for more complicated jobs such as second-story additions. For simple additions, many contractors can offer preliminary designs free of charge. Before you make a decision, remember that you need a design that gives you the most value for your budget.

Selecting the architect-contractor for Home Remodeling Sparta. Ask for referrals from neighbors, friends and your lender. Those that make remodeling loans should be able to provide a good list of candidates. If you are using an architect and builder, select both up front to provide checks and balances. They should be accountable for delivering a plan that can be built without compromise, avoiding cookie-cutter plans and designs that go over budget.

Visit your lender to learn whether your preliminary plans will be financed and whether the design will enhance the future value of your home.

Check all of the contractor’s references before you get a bid. Ask your contractor if bills are paid on time and employees are covered by workers’ compensation. The answers can help you avoid mechanics liens and other unpleasant surprises.

Call the Contractors License Board to find out if the contractor’s license is valid and bond is active. Then check customer references. Did the job progress on time and on budget? When a tradesman began work, did he work continuously until the work was done?

Getting bids. Make sure the bids cover the same design and specifications. This is especially important when dealing with contractors, who often bid based on what they “usually do” rather than what is specified. Tell the contractor up front that you’re on a tight budget, that you’ll be getting other bids and that you hope you’ll get a bid you can afford while maintaining quality work.

If the bid is too good to be true, it probably is. Most horror stories associated with remodeling are a result of the lowball bid. Either the contractor miscalculated what your job should cost or intentially submitted a low bid hoping to make it up on the extras.

Securing the building permits and final loan approval. To avoid delays in construction, plans and specs can be submitted to both the building department (for final plan check) and the lender (for loan approval) simultaneously. Your architect or builder should handle this for you.

Finally, though your contractor might be eager to begin sending in the wrecking crews, don’t begin work until the loan has been recorded.

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