Rudy Niño (November 30)
Sometimes during a remodeling project, the home owner will ask the contractor to install something they might have picked up at the hardware store, or to do a little extra work than what was originally planned. These "extras" may be needed due to unforeseen circumstances, or they may just be something the home owner wants that was not originally considered. How do you, as a home owner, handle such remodeling extras? The first thing you need to do is read the contract you have with the remodeler and find out what it says regarding "Change Orders," "Extra Change Orders," or "Work Orders." Most remodelers do have some type of standard wording in their proposals and contracts that explains how they will handle the extras. If something extra is needed or desired, you should discuss this with your general contractor as early as possible so the proper preparation is carried out. Your remodeler will most likely need to order additional materials and labor. The extras will also probably need to be added as an appendix to the plans and the specifications in order to comply with building codes and warranties. One way to keep a handle on unforeseen extras from the start is to talk out any unclear details on your invited contractor proposals. Try not to skim through these areas, and stay alert as you go through any proposals. If one bidder points out a potential problem that may call for extra work down the line, make sure the other bidders are aware of the problem and that they have it down in writing. Make sure you also get down in writing what the charges will be for any possible extra work.
During the remodeling job itself, it is not unusual for the home owner to want some changes along the way. This is natural, but you should be aware that extra work and add-ons take extra time, and such changes may make it difficult for the contractor to stay on schedule. If you decide on some changes, make sure you ask your contractor how these changes will impact the completion date. Don't forget that extra work will most likely cost you extra money. Just as a dentist may not fill an extra cavity for free while he is performing another procedure, your contractor probably will not throw in extra work free of charge. But you should negotiate the pricing on separate contracts. And you should always go to your primary contractor first. If you work out something with the workers or sub-contractors, such work could void any due warranties without a written change order as you have a legal contract with the primary contractor only. Additionally, if something goes wrong, you may not have any recourse with the contractor or the building code inspectors if you arranged the extra work on the side. Always go through the proper channels if changes need to be made. Some extras may not cost you, though, as in the case of contractor mistake. Talk about such possible occurrences and consider the likelihood of any "extras" before you begin your remodeling project. Discuss such possibilities with your remodeler and, as always, get it in writing. If your contractor allows it, generate the paperwork yourself. Be specific about what you would like done and what you will expect, and don't forget to keep a copy for yourself. Extra work could happen in any remodeling job, but, with a little forethought, it need not be an overwhelming burden on your contractor or yourself.
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