Friday, May 09, 2008

Maintaining Control During a Home Renovation Project

Perhaps the hardest part of dealing with a home renovation project for a homeowner is giving up control of his home. The homeowner has to really have faith in the contractor because she is turning her life upside down and allowing someone else to control her environment. The contractor is automatically in conflict with the homeowner, because he is trying to maintain control of the project while the homeowner is "interfering" in the process. The interference isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it allows for a system of checks and balances.

At the same time, some homeowners overstep and try to micro-manage and drive the contractor crazy. So, how does one maintain a balance and deal with the lack of control?

Rule #1-Start with a good contract. A contract that contains clauses that deal with possible unforseen events helps to protect both parties. Those who are in the business of construction develop these contracts over time as incidents occur during home improvement projects. They learn from the experience and incorporate these obstacles into the contract to protect future parties.

Rule #2-Communicate! Keep the lines of communication open. If you are going to destroy the homeowner's prized azaleas, warn her. If you do not want the contractor to damage your family heirloom, remove it or warn the contractor. If something is getting on your nerves, nip it in the bud, and discuss it.

Rule #3-All change orders must be in writing and signed off on by the parties. It's worth saying one more time. The parties should agree how the change order is going to affect the contract price and the date of completion.

Let's face it. No one likes to give up control; especially of his house or control over her workmanship. However, in the unlikely marriage between homeowner and home contractor, each side must work with the other and compromise in order to achieve the final goal.

22 Comments:

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous dhurowitz said...

the advice seems rather simple and easy to follow, but I guess some time the most obvious rules of logic are the first we tend to forget. thank you for the article it was good reading.

 
At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Keahi Pelayo said...

Great advice. Thank you.
Aloha,
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RE/MAX 808 Realty

 
At 1:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Andrea.
Wouldn't it be possible that before any contract may be purged, that, part of the contract is to give the owner a few insights on the home renovation jobs being done?

Otherwise, would it be a nice move to have materials for use and locations to have renovation applied be set before the contract by the owner? or should it be solely for the contractor to handle?

I have a few tips in my blog and 1 point there that I discussed is about choosing everything from materials, colors up to the exact area or location where renovation may be applied. Will this do good in the part of the house owner?

 
At 7:26 PM, Blogger BRIAN said...

Dear Andrea:

Information that you put on your BLOG is good for the ones seeking pre-contract advice. However, homeowners need to know what steps they need to take after they have been taken advantage of by contractors. If a contractor fails to perform or walks off the jobsite. Okay the filing of complaints with the DPS works to put a contractor on notice, but it doesn't realy do much. (M.G.L. c. 142A & 93A)

Here in Massachusetts, when a contractor has too much heat, they bail out and form a new company under a different name. They proceed as if they didn't do anything wrong. They can owe taxes to the IRS the Massachusetts DOR and have an award settlement in a case against them, and all they do is file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and again they are free to go on under a new name.

Then when damage is done to your house by the contractor and the contractor's insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement or drags the claim on. What happens when there is clear evidence of unfair settlement practices being empowered against your claim, even AFTER sending correspondences to the President & CEO and nothing changes with your claim (1 year 2months later)? (M.G.L. c. 176D)

Contractors are able to place mechanic liens on the homeowner's property, but what can a homeowner do to a contractor to place a lien on his/her property for non-performance?

 
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At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Kevin Beamer said...

Thanks for the advice, Andrea! I think any homeowner would not want to give up control over his home. But there should be set of rules so that he doesn't interfere with the work of the home contractor. To avoid any problem, it is best to hire a trusted home contractor. Leads about the best contractors can often be found through recommendations.

 
At 8:03 AM, Anonymous home Renovation said...

In making home renovations, it is important that a contractor have already discussed to the homeowner all the necessary construction materials that will be used in the improvements. And the most important thing here is the price of each item. The price of the item should be clear to the homeowner in order not to have conflicts. The homeowner should tell the contractor about her budget in the improvements in order for the contactor to know the limit of the renovation.

 
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