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Fresh Home: Questions and Answers

Homeowners must answer several important questions before they begin construction projects on their homes. These questions are:

Q: Why home renovation may be the right choice for homeowner over new construction?

A: Many homeowners prefer to renovate rather than undertake a new construction project for several important reasons. They may be sentimental toward their home or simply concerned about their budget. This project can range from repainting the walls, laying new flooring, or replacing outdated appliances with newer models.

Q: What's the best place to start refurbishment project for best return on investment (ROI) spent and what costs are involved?

A: The costs of a renovation can vary. People who want to lay new flooring should assume that they will be paying for their material by the square meter rather than a lump sum for the entire floor. Supplies like paint brushes, tape, and hand tools also must be factored into the overall cost of the project.

The best places to start a refurbishment project may be the bathroom, kitchen, dining, and living areas of the home. If the owner wants to sell the house, these key areas are guaranteed to catch a potential buyer’s eye first.

Q: What is the best season for house refurbishment and how to ensure your project adheres to standards?

A: Renovation projects can be done anytime during the year but people wanting to stay on budget can find the lowest prices and the widest selection of supplies during the spring and summer months – times of the year when people usually work on the insides and outsides of their homes.

Q: What is home over-improvement and how it affects your property?

A: Renovation projects that cost more than the owner could hope to recoup if the house sold is referred to as home over-improvement. Over-improvement can be avoided by keeping the project affordable and by avoiding the temptation to buy top-of-the-line products and extra accessories for the home.

Q: How will an ongoing home refurbishment project alter a homeowner's day-to-day routine?

A: Even a simple refurbishment project will alter homeowners’ everyday lives. They will have to adjust daily routines such as avoiding touching walls that are currently being repainted, staying out of rooms that have equipment like saws and drills in them, and even putting up with noise from hammering, drilling, and sawing for hours on end. People can expect reduced privacy as workers go in and out of rooms and require access to their houses. They also may be unable to get to personal possessions stored in their closets, garages, and other locations that are being worked on presently.

Q: Move out temporarily or stay put while refurbishment project is underway?

A: Indeed, homeowners may wonder if they should even stay in their homes while the project is ongoing. If they can tolerate the temporary interruption of their lives, they would do well to stay put while the work is ongoing. However, if they decide to leave temporarily, they could stay for a few days at a local hotel or bed and breakfast. They could also stay with friends or family members until the work is done.

Q: How to be well prepared for unexpected costs discovered during and after renovation project?

A: Going over planned budget is something homeowners should consider and have modest contingency fund set aside for such situation. As the work begins, they should be prepared to pay not only for the materials being used in the project, but also for other hidden costs that may not be evident when they first plan their refurbishment. Contractors, for example, will charge customers for labor costs and any extra materials, therefore it’s important to have all costs involved outlined in written agreement. Homeowners also will be expected to pay for a professional inspection after the project is completed.

Q: What is the role of the architect and how important is consultation with him before commencing the renovation project?

A: Devising a professional plan of action is vital when homeowners want to stay within their budget and ensure their project’s total success. Rather than take on this plan alone, they can work with an architect who can secure the building permits, estimate the refurbishment’s costs, and also obtain a final completion certificate once the work has been done according to his satisfaction. Architects additionally work as liaisons between local authorities and their clients to secure an inspection once the work has finished. They can help clients abide by the local codes for such projects.

Q: Provide advice about hiring a proper contractor. What must homeowner look for to ensure the contractor is qualified and reliable?

A: People who have never before hired a professional contractor may be unaware of the process of retaining this kind of service. Hiring a contractor varies greatly from buying a product at a store or letting a sales person give people advice about making a purchase. Indeed, when people need to hire a contractor for a project, they should make sure that they are retaining professionals who are skilled, qualified, and safe. Before homeowners hire a professional contractor, they would do well to ask for several references who can give objective reviews about the services the company provides. Likewise, they should verify that their contractor has the proper licensing and bonding as required by the local laws.

In the U.K. general contractors are required by law to obtain the proper licensing from government authorities such as the Health & Safety Executive. Regardless, homeowners may do well to have the final results of their projects professionally inspected, particularly if the contractors are new to the business or have had to make numerous restarts or repairs during the project.

Q: When it comes to negotiating and preparing contract, what are budgeting and legal considerations?

A: Along with verifying that their contractor is properly licensed, bonded, and qualified for the job, people should also be prepared to negotiate their contract with this individual. Before they begin taking bids for the work, people are advised to have a budget in mind so that they avoid overspending and running out of money before the project is completed. Likewise, they should make sure that the contract stipulates a set deadline for the work to be finished and the penalties or discounts that could be allotted if the work becomes delayed without good reason.

Q: What is a reasonable payment schedule to contractor when ongoing renovation project?

A: Keeping the work on schedule can also stipulate the payment plan that the client and contractor work out between each other. Many contractors ask for 10 to 25 percent of the cost for the project up front with another percentage to be paid when the work reaches its midpoint. After the work is done and the project has passed inspection, the client may then be expected to pay the rest of the amount. Clients should never pay for the total cost of the project up front, nor should they insist on withholding payment until the work is finished. A payment schedule protects both the client and the contractor from breach of contract.

Q. Will I really save money by improving the insulation of my home?

A: With these suggestions in mind, people may ask themselves if they truly would save money by undertaking a project like adding more insulation to their homes. While the initial expense of hiring the contractor may seem like a large sum, people can recoup that money when the added insulation lowers their heating and cooling bills. Improved insulation keeps out cold winds in winter and blocks heat during the summer months, keeping the inside of the house energy efficient.

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Fresh Home Q&A Infographic

House refurbishment and renovation Q&A infographic by Fresh Home Builders