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Helpful How-To Tips & Checklist

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Choosing Materials


Perhaps your single biggest responsibility during construction will be choosing the exact materials to be installed as part of your remodeling project.  Here are some tips on where, how and when to shop.


Where to shop:


Most contractors keep manufacturer's catalogs. And most keep on hand or have access to some product samples. You'll probably see a few of these catalogs and samples before and during your remodeling adventure.


What about buying and supplying your own materials?  Contractors are expected to stand behind their work, so they tend to gravitate towards suppliers who sell quality materials and provide needed services.  If you want to supply some of your own materials, the industry standard dictates the need to be prepared to forego warranty coverage through your contractor on those materials.


How to shop:


Know how much of each material you need when you shop. Keep track of budget allowances-amounts listed in construction contracts to pay for materials not yet chosen. Almost every showroom has "good, better, best" selections for every item. If you are determined to live within preset budget allowances, you'll probably have to do some mental judging as you shop. Pay special attention to prices for flooring, lighting, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures; they can vary by a factor of 10 or more between popular, mass-manufactured items and special, one-of-a-kind solutions.


Will more than one person be involved in choosing materials? If so, pay close attention during your first couple of shopping outings as to how the other person shops and whether his or her style is anything like your own. You might think you know everything about how the other person's mind works. Remodeling has a way of proving you wrong and you don't want to miss a deadline because the two of you might be unable to agree.


When to shop:


Know the schedule for choosing materials. It should be included in your construction documents. If it's not, make sure your contractor gives you a written schedule of when you must indicate material selections. Make sure you are kept informed of any mid-job updates to this schedule. Nothing can make a remodeling job grind to a screeching halt more quickly than your failure to indicate your materials for selections on time. When shopping for materials in showrooms, be sure to ask whether each item you've chosen is in stock. If it's not, ask how long it will take to get it. Lead time can very greatly. 

  (Reprinted from Remodeling News) 


Choosing an Architect


Hiring the right architect is just as important to the ultimate success of your project as hiring the right contractor. Many contractors are either formally trained or self-trained designers and thus offer design as part of the package. Other contractors, while not designers themselves, employ in-house architects, kitchen and bath designers, and even interior designers. Still other contractors can refer you to architects whose work they know and respect. If you are planning a large job, you may want to hire your own architect to draw up plans before hiring a contractor.


What will the design cost? Architects usually charge a fee equal to 5 to 15 percent of a project's budget. At the low end of this range, you'll get design service only. Pay more and they'll help you choose a contractor and oversee construction.

 (Reprinted from Remodeling News)


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