13 Things Your Home Remodeler Won’t Tell You

With business down it may be the perfect time to indulge in some home improvement projects. Read on for more secrets of home remodelers.

[step-item number=”1.” image_url=”” title=”Business is down 16 percent.” ]  The good news for you: I’m returning calls and trimming prices. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2.” image_url=”” title=”High-end people will do smaller jobs” ] we might have spurned a few years ago. Focus on projects that will keep your house market-ready, like upgrading a bathroom. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”3.” image_url=”” title=”Triple-check financing before you start.” ] You don’t want to run out of money to pay me because your lender decides to lower or eliminate your home equity line of credit. (And it can, at any time.) [/step-item]

[step-item number=”4.” image_url=”” title=”Those of us who do new houses or commercial projects” ] may not have great remodeling skills. Long track records count. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”5.” image_url=”” title=”Look at work I’ve done in the past 12 months,” ] on a budget similar to yours. (Older projects likely had bigger budgets and more expensive materials.) [/step-item]

[step-item number=”6.” image_url=”” title=”Check me out: Any liens?” ] Pending lawsuits? Do I have a valid state license? Do my subcontractors? [/step-item]

[step-item number=”7.” image_url=”” title=”Test-drive me” ] on a smaller project before you commit. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”8.” image_url=”” title=”Do I have insurance?” ] (Check directly with my insurance company. Those papers I waved in front of you may have expired years ago.) [/step-item]

[step-item number=”9.” image_url=”” title=”Don’t overimprove—” ] especially since home values are falling. Check out local trends in the “Cost vs. Value” report at remodeling.hw.net. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”10.” image_url=”” title=”Spell everything out.” ] Otherwise, I may not prime the walls before I paint or I may not build that closet shelf and put up that rod. Expect nothing that’s not in writing. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”11.” image_url=”” title=”Ask if you’re getting a dedicated crew.” ] If not, your project may drag on while I juggle multiple jobs. Tie the contract to deadlines for each phase. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”12.” image_url=”” title=”Ditto for the brand and precise quality of the materials,” ] appliances, and fixtures you are ordering. Don’t let us sub in materials of “equal or better quality” that aren’t. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”13.” image_url=”” title=”Put “while you’re at it” projects on a separate list” ] and ask me to give you separate estimates. Home improvement spending is projected to slide another 12 percent this year. I’ll likely have time—and be glad—to come back. [/step-item]

Sources: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Roger Peugeot, president of Roger the Plumber, Inc., Overland Park, KS; Collin Johnson, director of inspection services for the City of Glendale, WI; Bruce Case, president of Case Design/Remodeling, Inc., based in Bethesda, MD. Interviews by Joanne Cleaver.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest