Tuesday, 30 August 2011 23:16
Most of us love our homes, but there’s always something we’d like to change. Maybe it’s a new addition, renovating a kitchen, or simply giving a room a makeover. There are always two big stumbling blocks: what will it cost, and who is going to do the work?
Handling your own home projects can be satisfying, but it’s not always the smartest approach. Before you decide to tackle a project, you need to ask yourself two questions. First, do you have the knowledge and skills to handle the job? Be honest about your own abilities, because even people who are good at home projects can encounter unexpected problems.
The second question is do you really have the time to handle the work? Household projects nearly always take longer than expected, and trying to fit them around your job and other responsibilities can be tough. A kitchen makeover that “should” take a week can easily become a month-long ordeal – and you’ll be without your kitchen for much of that time.
If you’ve decided that it makes more sense to get outside help, your next step is finding a professional contractor. First, develop a complete understanding of what you want. If you take the time to think your plans through – even picking out materials and making rough sketches – both you and the contractor will have a better idea of what to expect.
Friends are a good source of contractor recommendations, as are local hardware and building supply stores. It’s best to meet with at least three contractors. They should be willing to come to your home and provide a written estimate. If they quote a number over the phone or won’t take the time to discuss the job with you, they’re probably not a good choice.
Compare the estimates to make sure they include everything you discussed, and call the contractor if anything is missing or unclear. Then choose the contractor with whom you’re most comfortable. It may not be the cheapest one, but if you feel better about working with one who is slightly more expensive, you’ll probably be happier with the job.
One last piece of advice: don’t pay in full until the job is completely done. Most contractors will accept a down payment and progress payments, but you should never hand over the final payment until everything meets with your approval.