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How to avoid a nightmare house remodel

The nightmare house remodel. You probably have heard of the horror stories where a homeowner faces an onslaught of maintenance and home improvement problems while remodeling. There are plenty of articles that warn of new build ‘nightmare house’ projects that went from bad to worse. Yes, it could happen to you. However, what most people do not realize is that a majority of these items did not instantly appear once a builder stepped on the property. In fact, most times these are pre-existing problems where an older home or already built home was just sitting undisturbed. Uncovering problems in a home is commonplace but there are things you as a homeowner can look out for to make sure you are protected.   

Identify the “real” problems of your home

Taking on water

If there is one thing that can literally flood a home remodel with issues, it would be water. Any type of water leak could result in lasting damage that can spread inconvenient ways. Not only that, but the process to add any new construction would also require a homeowner to remediate all damaged areas.

Hazardous materials 

Older homes have seen the passage of time, and over the course of the years business practices have changed. Some buildings no longer use brick while others have moved on to better-rated insulation. Asbestos is commonly found in older sheet flooring products and home insulations. A simple home inspection from a certified and licensed professional can turn around results within a couple of days. If large amounts are found a homeowner will have to remediate it before a builder can begin any new work.

Structural issues

Every home needs a healthy foundation. Often, people who are renovating older homes will come across some weathered foundations. The ground underneath and around a building can give away little by little which will translate to stress damage to concrete structural foundations. Commonly, cracks and warping will be visible on exposed concrete forms. This is obviously not ideal for anyone. The homeowner will have to address that problem before continuing any remodeling of their basement or adding an additional structure to the home. 

Find the right contractor

Make sure they are reputable and credible

In 2018, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there were approximately 4,524,360 inquiries made regarding General Contractors and their businesses following the 2018 Complaint and Inquiry Statistic study. Of those, 4,267  became a complaint filed by a client making General Contractors ranked as the 39th most compliant related business type. Do your due diligence on finding types of builders that have positive and consistent reviews for the past work they perform. Hire someone who has the presence within your neighborhood and you can get second-hand accounts on how they performed. Doing so will make sure you get the right person for the job.

Hire the right type on contractor or builder

Understand that there are differences in contractors available to perform work. If a homeowner is performing a project that involves a single trade, try looking up a subcontractor that specializes in that discipline. If a homeowner has something that spans across multiple trades, consider hiring a general contractor. For jobs that are more complex and need even more coordination research design-build companies like Sustainable Design Build. Design Build firms offer more in terms of single specialized contractors or small general contracting.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Knowledge

You should start to familiarize yourself with the regulations of your local municipality. No code is identical from county to county and you need to understand what you can and cannot do to your home. Many homeowners expect a subcontractor to do this but one may want to consider looking into it yourself for security. Each trade has its own strengths and focuses if you have a project that spans across a couple of trades you can’t rely on just one. An electrician may not know the codes involved with concrete foundations as other builders would. Educating yourself will save you from incorrect assumptions and possibly any nightmare house remodel setups.

Work with a Licensed Professional

If you plan to perform a project that is more than $500 in value, it is recommended that you hire a general contractor or builder that is licensed and insured. This will help to protect you and your home. Regardless of price, some municipalities will have specific individual criteria for what work needs permitting. Licensed contractors will also follow the correct guidelines in pulling the proper permits for your home further securing your home. Working with a licensed professional is just another important step for making sure your home does not turn into a nightmare house of remodeling incidents.

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