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RE Q&A: Fixer-Upper? Home Renovation Tips

Most buyers or current owners considering a remodel don’t know how to do the work or who to trust with the task. To start, check licenses, credentials and public records.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: We need a larger house for our growing family. Considering the price of houses lately, we decided to remodel and add a room rather than purchase something larger.

However, I am growing concerned about the process after speaking to friends. What should we look out for? – Danielle

Answer: Renovations are complicated, with many moving pieces where something can go wrong.

Your first task is to find the right professionals to work with. While many contractors and architects are talented professionals, not all are, so do your best to research them. Ask for references, and then call and speak with them. Check their licenses, credentials, and public records to see if there have been any problems.

Once you get past that hurdle, interview them. You will create a relationship with them and need to know you can get along with them. Some personalities do not mesh well, and even when you have the best people working on your home, things might not go well if you cannot effectively communicate with them.

Make sure you know what you want. Your plans should be detailed and specific to ensure everyone involved in the project is on the same page. Carefully review the contracts to match your needs with the specific materials you want used. Make sure there is a clear timeline with penalties for unexcused missed deadlines. You should clearly understand what is expected from everyone involved, including yourself.

You should find out who the subcontractors are working on the project. Although the general contractor picks them, you are responsible for ensuring they get paid. Most people do not realize that an unpaid supplier or subcontractor can lien their property if the general contractor does not pay them with the funds you already paid.

When your job is done, get it inspected, and do not make the final payment until everything is completed as agreed. Ensure that municipal inspections have been completed and the permits are closed. If you are detailed, pay attention, and ensure everyone does what they agreed to, you can significantly increase the chance that your renovation will turn out well.

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