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August 31, 2018

Lessons Learned In A Remodeling Project

  1. Cast as wide a net as you can to find the right contractor – assume 3-6 months to make a selection.
  2. Strongly consider being your own GC for projects <100K
  3. Check contractor references, and specifically jobs in last 3-6 months, and last two jobs.
  4. GCs will pitch with a Business Development person. This may not be the person who is running your project. Absolutely measure your proposed project manager. If they can’t tell you who it’s going to be, or keep the PM away from you, that is an automatic no. If you like the PM, they should be called out by name in the contract, and you should retain the ability to interview any replacement.
  5. If you hire a builder, the first milestone should be a schedule, completion date, and order dates for key components. Don’t pay any deposit until you have this. For instance, a kitchen project is a bunch of stuff that happens around new cabinets. The cabinets are absolutely the most important item. Understand exactly how they get ordered and when that has to happen to hit your date.
  6. Consider escrowing all project funds.
  7. Review and approve contractor tech platform prior to signing, especially consumer facing side. “We use Excel”, We’re old-fashioned, we like paper”, “Your project is too small for that fancy stuff”, “We’re developing our own” as excuses are all unacceptable and you should consider steering clear.
  8. One artisan can outperform a national corporate.
  9. If it seems hinky it is.
  10. Make sure (with your own eyes, not ears) that the contractor is bonded and insured, and that all subs have waived liens before final pmt.
  11. Pay attention to little things – Do they have a company vehicle? What do the individuals’ LinkedIn profiles say? Are favorable online reviews recent or dated? Have they changed their name? Etc. In 2018 good contractors and subs are doing well and should look it.
  12. Not sure how to do this, but get some measure of their solvency
  13. If your project starts and gets off track, issue a stop work and get it on track or terminate the project. Better a false start than a horrendous ending.
  14. Escrow project funds, especially the initial deposit.
  15. A remodel can be incredibly emotional – this is your home. Be prepared to be upset but stay focused on the end. Stay on the same page with your partner.
  16. Hopefully this list is helpful, and everything goes great. Give your team a great review and offer to be a reference. They’ve earned it.

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