SA Building & Remodeling
How to Remodel Without Being Taken to the Cleaners
Rudy Niño (September 13)
With the heat of the busy summer still going strong, you may be among the many homeowners who are considering home improvements but are frightened by the horror stories of dishonest contractors.

The good news is that by asking the right questions and looking in the right places, you can find a remodeler to do a job that will not only raise your home's value, but also make the home more enjoyable for many years to come. This is a particularly appropriate time to consider making dreams of home improvements a reality.

Many homeowners like their neighborhoods and don't relish the expense and trouble of moving, but want a change in space or amenities. Remodeling makes it possible to upgrade and expand without moving and often rewards the investment with a higher sale price if the house is put on the market later.

The percentage of a remodeling investment which will be returned depends on the job and the number of years until the house is sold. A minor kitchen remodel can return 100 percent of the initial investment, while a new skylight illuminating a room could return even more. A rule of thumb is that any improvement which brings a home up to the level of similar houses in the same neighborhood is a good one.

While it may be tempting to go with the lowest bid, be careful. No two remodelers will do a job exactly the same way. When soliciting bids, be as specific as possible and ask the bidder to specify the materials and brand names on which the bid is being based. Be especially wary of bids significantly lower than the range indicated by the others.

By the time you decide to hire a remodeler, you probably will already have a fairly good idea of what you want the finished job to look like. A remodeler can take your ideas and recommend the most effective ways of achieving the results you are seeking while staying within your budget.

Like any important purchase, a remodeling job is not something to be spontaneous about. Although it may take some time to find a remodeler with whom you feel comfortable and can communicate, it is worth the effort.

One of the most important things that can be done to check up on a remodeler is to ask for a list of recent jobs done that are similar to yours. The remodeler may have done some super kitchen remodels, but that won't be much of an indication of how well the company can add an additional level to your home.

Next, check up on the references and, if possible, visit the sites. A remodeler who can't give a fairly extensive list of satisfied customers may be inexperienced or may have some other problem, neither of which may bode well when you're planning to invest your hard-earned dollars into a remodeling project. It is also important that you verify the remodeler has the licenses and permits required to build in your district.

All this background work may seem like a hassle, but you only need to wait until an unqualified or dishonest remodeler leaves a half-finished job to find out what hassle really is. No reputable remodeler will mind you doing your homework before signing the contract. In fact, since so much of a remodeler's business comes from referrals, a good remodeler will do everything possible to ensure the job will reflect well on the company and add one more customer to the list of satisfied clients.

Call Rudy Niño for a quote at (210) 723-2616 or Request an Estimate online.
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