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So the time has come to update your dingy 1950s rambler and transform it into the sleek, modern, up-to-date home you’ve always dreamed of. Congratulations! Admitting your home has a problem is the first step to fixing it.

But, assuming you’ve never completed a home remodel, there’s a lot you need to know before you begin this transformative work. What is expected of your contractor, and what is expected of you as the homeowner? Is there actual etiquette involved in this relationship? And what do you really need to focus on during your remodel, anyway?

Don’t worry; we’ll help you sort out these do’s and don’ts, and hopefully launch you on a successful path to a beautiful remodel.

Contractor/Client Relationship

Unless you are a genius master builder / plumber / electrician, you will probably be hiring a contractor to help you out with this remodel. The relationship with your contractor is just that – a relationship; and therefore you should know the do’s and don’ts of this partnership before you hire someone to work on your house.

DO: Ask lots of questions. Interview your potential contractor and get firm commitments about the time frame of your remodel and cost as well as confirmation that they hold proper licensing and insurance. You are not being in any way pushy or difficult by asking for details; it’s his job to remodel your home to your satisfaction, and it’s your job to make sure you choose the person who can best perform your house’s facelift.

DO: Set your expectations. Clear communication is key to the success of any relationship, including one the with your contractor. If your contractor is selecting materials for your project, then make sure you are on the same page regarding quality, style and price.

DON’T: Be obnoxious. Because there really is a difference between assertiveness and rudeness, between knowing what you want and pretending you know everything. After you’ve picked out your paint chips and seen samples of the wood, and you know your contractor is doing a good job, it’s time to stop asking questions. Don’t try to meddle in their business; trust they’re doing their work right. If you find a problem, address it then – but don’t assume you know better than a professional how to lay sheetrock.

House/Homeowner Relationship

And now, for the house itself. What do you need in order to complete this remodel to your satisfaction? How can you be sure your remodel is up to code, and your newly-rebuilt house is safe for you and your family?

DO: Make sure you have all your permits in order. If you are expanding your house in any way, you need a permit. If you are replacing the roof, you need a permit. Basically, if you are doing anything substantial to the structure of the building – you need a permit. Check with your city before you begin building to be sure there won’t be any roadblocks along the way.

DO: Seal your house properly so that the construction zone is separated from the space where you are living. Invest in some painter’s plastic and tape so that you can prevent dust from the half-remodeled kitchen from seeping into your bedroom.

DO: Make sure that you know the ins and outs of your wiring and plumbing. If you are ignorant about what’s going on under or inside your house, you could easily run into trouble when the contractors begin tearing things down!

DON’T: Start any demolition until you have all the replacement accessories on hand. Don’t tear out old cabinets until you have the new ones ready to replace them; don’t rip up the old linoleum until you can replace it with new tile.

DON’T: Leave out anything breakable or valuable. Remodels can create some miniature earthquakes within your house; it’s entirely too easy for fragile things to fall and break when that jackhammer starts going.

Ultimately, the key to remodeling your home is to be a little nosy (without being rude); do your research; stay organized; and make sure you know what you want before the contractors go to work. As long as you keep these things in mind, you should come away from your remodel with a beautiful home that feels new and meets all the safety requirements you need to feel secure!


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