Common Pitfalls and Frequently Asked Questions
- Know your budget!
One of the biggest disappointments is to not be able to follow through with a project because it is outside of your budget. Know going in what you can spend. Ask advice from an architect or contractor. Know your budget!
- Do I need an architect?
Simple projects, such as remodeling a bathroom, as well as certain renovations and small additions, may not need an architect. On large or more involved projects, such as two story additions, an architect is critical. The expense of hiring an architect pays for itself in project efficiency. When consulting with an architect, be sure to discuss your project budget. You want your blueprints and budget to be a match!
- How do I hire a contractor?
Most clients solicit estimates from approximately three contactors. If you have blueprints, get a contractor copy, which they may use to make an accurate estimate. If the project warrants an architect, and you do not have one, the contractor may recommend one. Usually these estimates and initial consultations are free. When you decide on the contractor who best suits your needs there will be a contract signing. Your project is then ready to proceed.
- Who takes care of permits and inspections?
That is the contractor’s responsibility. The cost of permits will be included in your contract. All required permits will be attained by the contractor before starting the project. Permits can take a few weeks to process. Inspections will be scheduled at different intervals in the building process.
- How does payment proceed?
There will be a payment plan built into the contract. Specific dollar amounts will be due upon completion and inspection of different portions of the project.
- Will there be change orders?
Change orders occur when a client upgrades from what was signed for in the project contract. If you have decided to upgrade, for example, from cost $A floor to cost $$B floor, discuss this with the contractor. They will tell you what was budgeted for the floor and how much your new decision has exceeded this. You will be billed for this by a Change Order Invoice. It is best to avoid change orders. Prepare for what you want ahead of time to avoid going over your budget. Know where you want to spend $A, $$B or $$$C.
- Will there be unforeseen costs?
Everything should be outlined in the contract. Items, such as, kitchen appliances, would not be in a building contract. But, a fixture allowance, such as plumbing, may be written in. Discuss ALL particulars with your contractor so you are both in agreement with what is and is not covered. An unforeseen cost would be something that could not be known, such as, boulders or a solid rock ledge, in the digging area.
- What causes delays?
Sometimes the customer is the source of delay because of indecisiveness. This usually revolves around ordering materials. For example, the customer wants a special order tub that has a long lead time, but does not order it until well into the project. A project can come to a stop due to this type of issue. Again, it is best to prepare as much as possible. Know what fixtures, cabinets, etc. you want.Another common source of delay is nature. An excavator may not be able to dig if the ground is oversaturated from heavy rains. Foundations, or block work, cannot be done if the ground is below a certain temperature because of the risk of cracking. Contractors will try to work around the forces of nature as much as possible.A contractor who is not responsible in their project planning can also cause delay. Most projects overlap, but too many large projects at a time may cause a problem. Ask your contractor how many projects they run at a time.
- Can I live in my home during construction?
Construction is inconvenient. This is where the personal touch of the right contractor can be very important. If you are a family with small children, under a kitchen remodel, it will be very important to have the existing kitchen functional as long as possible. Another family may opt to temporarily relocate and quick completion time will be the priority. It is important the contractor is respectful by not leaving unnecessary debris, etc. in the household. When interviewing contractors ask about their policies concerning cleanliness of the worksite and how they will work with you to make it livable.
- Will the worksite be safe?
Organization and cleanliness of the worksite are the hallmark of a safe site. Heartwood Homes follows a clean-up and safety protocol at the close of each work day. Tools are packed and stored, all large debris put in a dumpster and all areas swept. A thorough check that all lighting and equipment are turned off is part of the protocol. We make every effort to warn the customer of any potential hazards. Yes, it is a construction site, but also your home; we want it to be as clean and safe as possible.