Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Home Renovation without All of the Aggravation

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Home Renovation without All of the Aggravation

Article excerpt

Think 2016 might finally be the year to tackle that big renovation project you've been putting off? Proper planning is the best predictor of satisfaction and will also minimize the number of costly changes you make once the work is underway.

During the planning phase, follow this advice from Consumer Reports. You could save thousands of dollars on your renovation without compromising quality -- or losing your cool.

- Check credentials. Even if they come with a glowing review from your sister-in-law, you still need to check the bona fides of every professional on your short list. Though proper credentials aren't a guarantee of quality, they're a good sign that the general contractor (GC) runs a reputable business. The Contractor's License Reference Site ( has information on licensing requirements in your state, and a list of licensed contractors.

- Listen to your gut. Trust and a good rapport between you and your contractor are essential. Any negative feelings you have during the initial interview (Too bossy? Condescending? Rushed?) will only intensify as the project heats up. It's also important to understand how a GC communicates during a project and to be comfortable with that method. Ask whether you'll be dealing with him directly, or whether he'll be delegating the job to one of his project managers. If it's the latter, make sure to vet the manager, too.

- Remember that budgets are a moving target. The number you start out with during the planning phase is likely to change when you begin to see what materials actually cost.

GCs have to make similar calculations, factoring what they think the job will cost against their own profit margins and unforeseen expenses (more on those in a moment).

- Always negotiate. Getting bids from at least three GCs will give you a sense of the market rate and also provide bargaining power. …

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