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  • 10 Things to Discuss with Your Contractor

    July 23, 2019 | Blog | scott
  • With any construction project, communication is key. Here are 10 things that you want to make sure you discuss with your contractor that they are not likely to bring up in their consultation.

    Experience counts
    Make sure that the contractor you are working with has a history doing the types of remodeling projects you are looking to have performed. Someone that has little to no experience, may be a licensed contractor, but may not be able to properly estimate costs and or meet a schedule like someone who has already done this type of work in the past and has subcontractors available to them. This being said, it’s not unusual to pay a little bit more for the experienced contractor.

    The Paperwork is Your Job
    If the job requires getting permits, then the homeowner is typically the one that needs to do the permitting process with the local municipality. In addition work on the exterior of the home may require HOA or architectural board reviews and if there are permit inspections will also have to be scheduled. All of this typically falls on the homeowner to do. Here at Agape Construction we are happy to assist you with this process and will frequently schedule the building inspections when we can make sure that it does not interfere with the homeowners schedule.

    Financial Documentation for the Contractor and Sub-Contractors
    It is typical for the contractor to get paid in installments during most remodeling projects. The contractor should be able to provide you with a lien waiver at every payment as as well as paperwork that documents he has paid all of the subcontractors. Failure to obtain this paperwork may result in a lien being placed on your house.

    Licensed Bonded and Insured
    If the total cost of the project, including labor and materials, is over $1,000, in Arizona, then the contractor must be licensed. In order to get a license the contractor must be bonded. However they are not required to carry insurance. Contractors should have Liability insurance that covers any damage that they cause at your home. It is much easier to recover from an insurance company then to sue the contractor them and try to collect on the bond.
    You also need to make sure that if the contractor has employees working on your property, that those employees are covered with workman’s compensation insurance. If this is insurance is not in place and someone gets injured while at your property, it will result in the claim on your homeowners insurance which can be expensive.

    Register Your Warranties
    To be blunt, the contractor is interested in getting the project done and getting paid. As far as making sure that all of the paperwork for the new appliances is filed so that the warranties are in place, that is not his top priority. You should make sure that you have copies of all the receipts and file the necessary paperwork so that the warranties are in place for your new appliances.

    Remodeling is messy
    No matter how careful the contractor is, it is likely that dust and debris from the remodeling project will end up in every corner of the house. This should be discussed before the project begins and it should be agreed upon who is responsible for the final cleanup. It’s not unusual for us to pay $200 to a clean up crew after the project is completed and an additional $200 to have carpets cleaned. we know these costs and therefore we include them in our budget however many contractors do not and put these costs back on the homeowner. There is also an issue with noise that is created by the remodeling project that frequently disturbs the homeowners.

    Expect to find pre-existing conditions
    It’s not unusual to start remodeling project and find that someone has done poor workmanship before that now needs to be corrected, insect or pest damage, or the property contains hazardous materials such as lead or asbestos. All of these things can add to the cost of the project and you should have a discussion with your contractor, before work begins, on how these will be handled. It will likely be with a change order, but discussing the change order process at the beginning of the project can greatly decrease the amount of money it cost at the end of the project.

    Avoid change orders
    Some contractors, that I consider to be less than honest, will bid a job low and then add in several change orders during the project that greatly increases the cost of the job. Make sure that the full scope of work is in writing before work begins or before you make your initial payment. Making changes during the job can be extremely expensive and delay the work. 

    Check the materials
    I cannot count the number of times I’ve been called in to a project that another contractor has left. It’s not unusual to find out that they substituted 3/8 plywood where 5/8 plywood was required or that the customer paid for 4 inches of gravel in the landscaping and only received two. There was one home in Scottsdale where the underlayment behind the stucco was completely eliminated by the contractor and the foam substrate was changed without discussing it with the homeowner or city at all. This resulted in the city requiring all of the stucco to be removed and reinstalled properly. When working with contractors it’s best to trust but verify and make sure that you are getting the materials that you’re paying for and that the materials are being installed according to the installation instructions. I recently saw a wood laminate floor that was required to have a moisture barrier underneath it, however the contractor decided to save a few dollars and eliminate the moisture barrier and now 18 months later the entire floor is trash.

    Set a Timeline
    When doing a remodeling project the ultimate goal is to get people back into their home and living unrestricted as soon as possible. This is only done when a realistic schedule is set up front and followed. There will be projects that have unexpected delays, however, you should do everything possible to make sure those delays are avoided. Some people actually will put a clause in the contract that states, unless there is a change order that extends the timeline, that the contractor will receive less money every day that the project is delayed. It is frequently referred to as a liquidated damages clause. You may want to discuss this with your contractor and see if they’re willing to sign one.

    There are many things that should be discussed when doing a remodeling project but these 10 are the ones I see most commonly missed.

    you may also want to check out 15 Hidden Costs of Remodeling