Rudy Niño (April 23, 2010)
Your remodeling project is finally done, and you can see that the results of all the time and work have put a new life into your old house. Now the contractor is asking for the final payment or has sent the bill with a worker, but you are not completely satisfied with the results. Now what? Should you consider dodging the final payment? Although no two remodeling jobs are alike, there are some things you should keep in mind regardless of the work being done-that should help you avoid the “final payment blues.” For one thing, if you have any questions, ask. Remember that you should present these questions directly to the general contractor or the lead man and not to the workers doing the job. Your own inspections also should be welcome. From day one, consider doing daily walk-thoughts of the work in progress. Don’t feel as if you are prying or sneaking around, it’s your house and you are paying for it. The final payment of a remodeling project should amount to approximately 10 percent of the cost, and it should not be made until the job is finished and you are satisfied. Up front, you could pay 10 percent to 25 percent of the total cost, and all projects will vary in final cost as the project moves through all stages of the process. However, any changes to the ordinal plan can amount to more money. When you first meet with a contractor, you should be as specific as you possibly can. This will help prevent headaches down the line. Ask him or her how they will be going about the job and what their responsibilities are. Keep up with the schedule of payments both you and the contractor agree upon, and remember that changing your mind in mid-project can add time and money to the process. It is best to be as precise as you can before the work begins. If you do want something done a little different in the middle of the work, make sure you know what the contract says. Let’s say you want an extra linear foot added to your new bedroom. You wait for the framers to leave, get out your tape measure and find that the walls are exact according to the architect’s plans, but you would like 21 feet instead of 20 feet on a particular wall. At this point, look at the contract and written specifications and you will see that any changes are the homeowner’s responsibility. That means more time and more money added on to the final price tag. If the change is ready what you want, then it is time to go right to the top – the parties that signed the contract. The parties that signed are the only ones who should be making any changes, not a subcontractor or a worker. Make sure you talk directly to the contractor. When you make any changes from the original plans, also make sure do a proper change order. It might take a few more days to complete the changes, but that should not be a problem as long as the contractor’s goal is to make you a happy homeowner. If you keep these things in mind, then hopefully you will be completely satisfied with the final result and you won’t be feeling the ‘final payment blues.’ [This article was first written on Sunday, July 5, 1998].
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