Monday, July 2, 2012

11 Tips for Getting Your Project Started

Great article about getting that home project started that you may have been putting off for a while!

Thinking of tackling a remodeling project? Big or small, there are a few things you need to know first. If the job seems a little too involved for your skill level, hiring a contractor can save stress and time. Don Reynolds, owner of Reynolds General Construction, gave us some tips for hiring one. If the job is something you’re confident you can handle, Rollie Clarkson, owner of Remodeling Construction, gave some tips for that, too.

1. Is the job something you can do? “When you hire a professional, they know how to surgically take something apart and put it back together,” Reynolds said. Rather than ripping down a wall and then discovering the plumbing needs to be rerouted, they’ll assess the possible hurdles before they make a mess.

2. How experienced are you with home projects? “Be realistic about your skill set,” Clarkson said. “If you have no tools or experience, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”
If you’re naturally handy and/or have some construction skills , then give it a shot, he said.

3. Consider the age of your home. “A bathroom remodel in a house that was built in the 1980s can be finished quickly. If it’s an old house from the 1800s, you’ll probably have to take it clear down to the studs and redo the wiring and the walls, which could take close to a month,” Reynolds said. If your home is old, you’ll have to retrofit trim, windows and more to make everything fit. Suddenly, replacing the sink in your 1910 Victorian just got a lot more complicated.

4. Do your homework when hiring a contractor. Don’t just settle on the first contractor you find. “Get references from homeowners who have used their services,” Reynolds said. “Ask how capable their craftsmanship skills were, and how pleased they are with the results.” If a contractor seems shifty when you meet them, move on.

5. With painting, it’s all in the preparation. “It takes more time to prep a room than it does to paint a room,” Clarkson said. “Tape the woodwork, remove switch plates, patch cracks and holes.” He added that old popcorn texture on ceilings may crumble to the floor when you try to paint over it, creating a new mess, and a new project, since you’ll have to re-texture.

6. Have a well-stocked toolbox. Clarkson’s suggestions for tools to have: A tape measure, various screwdrivers, a few different types of pliers, a small pry bar and a utility knife. He also recommends a small hand saw or circular saw.

7. If it’s not right, make it right. Stay in touch with your contractor so both parties know exactly how you want the finished product to look. “Communicate full details of the remodel,” Reynolds said. “If it’s not to your standards ... ask them to change it. Don’t give up.”

8. Stick to your budget. A good contractor should give you options to help you stay within your budget. Don’t let them talk you into upgrades you can’t afford. “I help my customers by giving them an allowance for things, like the faucets, for example. If they choose a model that is more expensive than the allowance I suggested, I make it clear that money has to be pulled from another area,” Reynolds said.

9. Take a class. If you want a small lesson on painting, installing a door, or other small home projects, many big box home improvement stores offer classes on Saturdays. “They’ll show you how to set a toilet or paint a room,” Clarkson said.

10. You can rent what you need. A lot of big, expensive items can be rented for individual projects, so you don’t have to shell out the dough for a chainsaw, for example. Clarkson said to check with local rental or hardware stores to rent items like air compressors, tall ladders and saws.

11. A contractor can help with small jobs, too. If you don’t have the time or tools to complete handyman work, like painting and other small jobs, hiring a contractor could be a good solution, no matter where you are in the process. “We can pick up wherever you left off,” Reynolds said.

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