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Avoiding Remodeling Pitfalls

Remodeling Issues to Avoid


Proper planning with the goal of avoiding remodeling pitfalls, prevents unnecessary roadblocks. When you need to stop and rethink every step, planning and drafting in the field, you’re bound to miss some things, and those curve balls will slow you down and probably cost you in time and labor.

The ounce of prevention here is making decisions prior to cutting lumber. Realistic schedules need to be produced. A proper sequence of events should be spelled out clearly so that the necessary materials are on hand at the right time: Don’t gut the kitchen until the cabinets are ready to install.

Decisions, and the need to make decisions, must be communicated to clients in a timely manner. Plan each project completely. Communicate details, schedules and potential disruptions to schedules, such as change orders, clearly and sensibly.

Consider scheduling work when the clients are out of town. Develop and distribute checklists to your subcontractors to streamline the project.

Cost overruns

The best way to minimize cost overruns is to communicate the possibility of unexpected conditions to the clients before the job starts. Review your change-order policy with clients and carefully plan each project using a checklist. Bringing in a job on budget can be a huge marketing bonus.

Job-site mess and clutter

It’s easy to get lazy at the end of the day and leave a mess. A clean job site is a safer and more productive job site. Reducing clutter minimizes safety hazards as well as all that wasted time looking for or stumbling over things. Rent a dumpster and clean up at the end of each day. Schedule a big cleanup at week’s end.

A clean, uncluttered job site helps to keep your clients at ease, and it presents a more professional appearance. Plus, the increased productivity means more money in your pocket and is also a marketing bonus.

The client’s minds-eye:

Make sure you build what the client has in their “minds eye.” Encourage the client to have a drawing made, use visuals, and draft and review complete detail drawings and written specs with the client.

If not, you may end up ripping it out in order to get it right which will cost you time and money. The fact is that the cost to you in bad word of mouth is much greater than the couple of hundred bucks that it’s going to take to rebuild it properly.

The goal here is for you to encounter no surprises; everyone knows what the finished product will look like. Decisions are streamlined, and subcontractors and workers aren’t hit with any unexpected products requiring additional labor and/or materials to install.

As a contractor consider using a checklists for fixtures, appliances, hardware, etc., that the clients can review to make choices. But instead of overwhelming clients with the myriad choices available, provide three or four quality choices for products that you like to work with, such as four types of faucets for a vanity.

Both you and the clients then have some control over the finished product. But make it clear that they can look at other choices, too, if your samples don’t suit their needs or tastes.

~ concord carpenter

source: FHB 155 (Houses), pp. 18-24

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