The Must-Do Checklist for Home Renovation Projects

We typically take home renovation projects very seriously, yet there are so many things to think about and mistakes can be fatal. Following is a great checklist of things you must take into account to ensure a successful project.

Make sure you design your plan well.

Understand design trends before finalizing your remodeling plans. Home remodeling considerations most commonly include kitchens and private areas. Larger kitchens have a greater resale value than smaller kitchens. When coming to design the working area it is recommended to set the appliances in a triangular position. As for private areas, bedrooms and bathrooms should be separated visually from the working areas of the house.

Write down every little remodeling specification detail

Designing the remodeling specs is the most important task that you will undertake. This task can be the most complicated since you need to detail everything about your remodeling plans so that you can bid the project out to a contractor. Make sure you list down everything you want to change, so the contractor will have a clear idea of what you want. This can prevent design conflicts in the future. Make sure you write exactly which type of new faucet you want for your kitchen. Specify exactly which shade (and company) of hardwood floors you want. No detail is too small to be overlooked here, since based on these specifications the contractor will quote you his price. If you want white Italian marble for your living room, it will be a very different quote than maple hardwood floors.

Find a great contractor

The home remodeling specs that you created will be used to bid the construction project. Take your specifications plan and follow these three important tasks:

Take your specification plan and have it reviewed by an architect or other home designer. It will help them design or revise a house plan to fit your remodeling specs. Take the architectural plan and submit a request for bids from remodeling contractors. The architectural plan should include your construction specs.

Make sure you research the contractors bidding on your project, and make sure you protect yourself in negotiation. You can find a builder by checking the local newspaper, looking around in your neighborhood for houses being renovated, referrals by friends and associates, and referrals by the architect that looked over your specification plans.

Get the bids

After you’ve done your research, it’s time to take bids. The rule of thumb is to get three estimates, but try for five – and then ditch the rock-bottom bid.

“That’s the guy you want to run away from,” says R. Dodge Woodson, a general contractor for 27 years and author of “Tips & Traps for Hiring a Contractor.” “The typical game is to come in as low as you can so you get the job, and then add extra after extra.” Since one of the main responsibilities of a general contractor is to hire skilled subcontractors (electricians, masonry workers, plumbers), you might wonder: Can’t I hire the subcontractors myself? Well, of course you can, but make sure you can walk away from your job at a moment’s notice to rush home and take care of a sudden crisis. If you can’t do that, you’re going to need a professional to take care of things.

Get Everything in Writing

Get a written contract to make sure you’re protected against lawsuits resulting from disputes, accidents, work-related injuries or damages to third parties. Any of these things can happen – even with the smallest of jobs. Your contract does not have to be complicated, but make sure you include the following:

· Contractor contact details such as name, phone number, email, and address.

· A full description of the work contracted (including a detailed list of the materials and specifications of the entire job).

· The start date and the target completion date.

· The total renovation budget and payment method.

· Your contactor’s insurance plan and number, with a list of covered items and the period of time covered by the warranty.

The big 5

There are five things every contractor must have.

1. If required by your state, a license. You can check the Web ( for your state’s rules. Make sure your contractor is properly licensed, verify the license number with your state authorities or with the local licensing board.

2. Liability insurance. This protects your house and property in case the contractor or his employees cause damage.

3. Workers’ compensation insurance. Without it you can be held responsible if someone is injured while doing work on your property.

4. The subcontractors should be insured. The same liability and workers’ compensation insurance that your contractor has should be carried by all the specialists (plumbers, electricians and others) he hires.

5. A clean record in the Better Business Bureau. How many complaints have been filed, if any? Remember that misunderstandings do and will occur, so if there was a complaint, see if it was resolved satisfactorily.

Are you ready?

You have to adhere to some standards too. It’s important to be thorough about your wants and needs, but you also have to get along with your crew. “You’ve got to deal with these people; they’re going to be in your house,” says Tom MacGregor, a New York contractor. Do your homework and try to be consistent rather than changing your mind frequently about what you want or don’t want to be done. If your contractor is a reputable one, your goals will be the same: a fast and smooth job, well executed, that everyone walks away from satisfied.