Friday, August 8, 2008

Home Improvement Horrors - Part Six

Once the contract is signed, the next step should be a very detailed meeting between the homeowner, the contractor, and the subcontractors, even if lining them all up is akin to scheduling a White House Cabinet meeting. “There are so many intangibles; we have to establish the ground rules up front,” contractor Eric Messer explains. “Do you expect me to put site protection down? Can I use your driveway or do I have to park somewhere else? Will I be able to use your phone? Will you provide heat?” All these things need to be discussed prior to start, lest you find your refrigerator raided because a contractor thought lunch was on the menu of what you’ll provide.

As with so many other things in life, good communication is imperative. That’s because stuff happens. As Ken Kroog, chairman of the Mid-Hudson chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, points out, “Not every job goes the way it’s supposed to. You open up a wall and there’s a four-inch drainpipe you didn’t expect. You dig the footings and run into a graveyard. You never know.”

It's a real good idea to monitor the work daily so course corrections could be made along the way and problems handled in the nascent stages. Messer says, “Most items can be corrected quickly and at no charge if they’re caught early enough. If you don’t tell me you don’t want the electrical outlet there until after we’ve hung the sheetrock and painted, though, it’s a big deal.”

Mishaps and problems aren’t the only reason you should closely monitor the work, according to Thomas Ralph, a Realtor in Pelham who recently hired a contractor to add a dining room to his home, among other projects. “Whenever he would get to a situation where he could go one way or the other, like where you want a lighting fixture, he’d come and ask us,” Ralph says “You have to have a rapport. It’s not something where you hire the guy, disappear, and not come back until the work is done.”

In fact, another homeowner in Hartsdale, NY, had to be far more hands-on than they expected. “Our contractor would never miss an opportunity to cut corners. He installed a sink off-center to avoid moving some plumbing, placed a recessed medicine cabinet outside the wall because he had already sheet-rocked. Every day was an adventure in incompetence.”

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Tags: , ,

No comments: