Starting Your Home Renovation

Learn How to Develop Ideas, Work with Contractors and Save Money.

New homeowners may want to paint the walls, upgrade the floors, or add more rooms to match their style. But they may not know how to get started. As a new homeowner, 25-year-old Anthony Ward explained during an in-person interview how he developed ideas, worked with contractors and saved money to create a home that fits his needs.

Developing Ideas

After purchasing his California home, Ward realized he needed to make several changes:

  • Put up a wall in a bedroom to create two smaller rooms
  • Gut and expand the kitchen
  • Replace the flooring with tile, carpet, and hardwood floors
  • Add new dry wall and insulation
  • Upgrade plumbing to copper
  • Upgrade electric

Additionally, he said he found some decorating ideas from various sources.

“I got ideas from looking at model homes, watching “House Hunters” on HGTV, and reading magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens,” Ward said.

home renovation contractor

Searching for a Contractor

He said he hired three contractors to complete the job¬–a general contractor who renovated the interiors such as the kitchen, dry wall, and electric; a plumber; and a separate contractor who laid the flooring.

Finding a contractor was not a difficult task. “I looked through the PennySaver and received references from family members,” Ward said. He chose contractors based on the following criteria:

  • Experience
  • License
  • Reasonable time work can be completed
  • Clean up and haul-away option
  • Price

Once the contractors were chosen, he said he sat down with them and drafted a written contract which contained the following information:

  • Price
  • Time frame work should be completed
  • Description of the work
  • Deposit information
  • Payment information and dates

Paying Contractors

Ward noted that some homeowners may pay contractors half of the payment at the start and pay the other half when the work is completed, but he warned if contractors leave suddenly without finishing the work, they would have half of the homeowner’s money.

“I pay everybody in three payments–a starting payment, a middle payment, and then a completion payment,” Ward said.

To Buy or Not to Buy Materials

home renovation materials

He said the contracts state whether the materials are included. In his case, the general contractor, plumber, and electrician included the materials in their prices, whereas the contractor laying the tile did not.

For Ward, buying the materials saved him money.

“It was cheaper to buy the materials myself and to pay for the labor,” he said. That way, he said he could keep any unused materials.

However, when contractors include materials in the contract, the homeowner may lose money. Ward explained that if $300, for instance, is budgeted to complete the work and the contractor only spends $260, the homeowner is out $40. But he added that many contractors go over the spending limit, which would be the contractor’s responsibility.

Last-Minute Tips

  • “Don’t hire family members”: He said it would be hard to fire family members if the work is not done properly. He advised to hire someone you do not know.
  • “See the contractor’s work beforehand”: Ward suggested checking out his or her projects and asking for references to see if previous customers were satisfied with his or her work.
  • “Get a written contract”: Even if the contractor does not have a license, he strongly advised to get it in writing to avoid any legal issues.

Every homeowner’s renovating experience will be different. However, if they determine the necessary fixes, find the right contractor, and fully understand the terms of the renovation, homeowners will feel more confident and be a step closer to living in their dream home.

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