Tips for Avoiding Afterthoughts
Sometimes even the most diligent of planners can reflect on a project only to think of things they should have done differently, in addition to, or instead of. In most cases, though, some key forethoughts could have eliminated afterthoughts altogether.
Scope of Work
This is a very important section in the contract you and your contractor sign. It describes in detail the products and materials to be used and how the work will be done. The more detailed and comprehensive this is, the easier it is to follow along and stay on track, and the better you’ll know what comes next and what to expect. This helps prevent running over schedule (and thus, budget). Review this section carefully, confirming all the appliances, tile, countertop and flooring materials, paint and other items you’ve selected are included. Items and tasks that are missing or omitted, allowances and other open-ended options invite ambiguity which can easily result in prices creeping upward.
Your home improvement contract must include a payment schedule. And while a deposit, down payment and start-of-work payments are standard, subsequent payments should never be made until after the work they cover, has been completed. In other words, don’t let your payments get ahead of the work. It is easier to put concerns to rest if your payments are small and frequent rather than large sums made at long intervals. Payments should be scheduled by work phases, not by dates.
Many homeowners make changes mid-project. This is a common cause of projects running over schedule. While it’s not always feasible to have every decision made in advance, plan carefully to keep mid-work changes to a minimum. Confirm all materials are on-site, verified correct and in good condition before demolition. Delays are easily caused by back-ordered shipments or receipt of incorrect or damaged goods. Feel free to request weekly progress meetings with your contractor to help keep work flow on track and the homeowner informed.
Attend all inspection meetings, initial and follow-up, to understand reported findings and any requirements that weren’t originally satisfied. When changes are needed for code compliance, learn from the inspector why, so you understand if you should be paying for the oversight, omission or error. If work should have been done correctly the first time it may be incumbent upon the contractor to pay for the additional charges incurred for corrections. Always keep a copy of all inspection reports. Keeping well-organized documents can only serve you well, both during and after a project.
The Punch List
One of the biggest complaints homeowners have after a remodeling job is that they can’t get their contractor back once they’ve moved on to the next job. So, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure your contract specifies that the last payment rests on satisfaction of all final details, often referred to as the punch list. This list can be written or digital to include photos and audio to facilitate communication and understanding so discrepancies are most efficiently, easily, and completely resolved.