Remodeling Myths

There is a lot of misinformation out there about what is involved in a home remodel. Here are just a few of them.

Myth #1 - "We will talk about budget numbers after the design is complete."

Your project cost will be driven by how much you want to do, the quality of finishes you want and your budget. This means we need to know your budget up front so we can adjust what we deliver to meet that budget or provide ideas on how to achieve what you want for the money you have. A warning: if you haven’t done any remodeling in a few years you may be a little “shell-shocked” at costs today.

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Myth #2 – “My job is pretty small and shouldn’t require a permit”

In most jurisdictions in Washington state a building permit is required for any job that entails moving, adding or changing electrical, plumbing or load bearing walls. You may need permits and/or HOA approval to remodel. It is your contractors’ job to know the local regulations and secure any needed permit(s) for your job.

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Myth #3 – “Competitive bids should all pretty much be the same.”

We recently presented an estimate to a client who was surprised that our price was much higher than a bid she had already received from another contractor.  She wondered why we would be so much more expensive. In looking over the other contractor’s estimate with the client, we discovered that there were quite a few details missing and suggested that she call the original contractor to ask if his price included these items. The Contractor admitted that he had not specified them. We found our bids were comparable after he added the missing items back in. At the end of the day, we were not more expensive, just more thorough.

When getting an estimate or bid be sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. Look carefully at the “Scope of Work” and be sure every phase of your project is spelled out in detail.

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Myth #4 – “I suspect my project should go pretty fast.”

Your Project Developer will create and monitor a detailed timeline for your project and will stay in regular contact with you throughout the remodel. How long it takes depends on the size of your project and what is found during demolition. Here in the Pacific Northwest region water intrusion is a very common issue and cannot be fully assessed until demolition work is completed. Unforeseen problems can crop up once walls are taken down that may require additional work.

Myth #5 – “Because my job is simple I don’t really need a licensed contractor”

Yes, you do!  Washington State requires a state license for all contractors, and many municipalities also require a local business license. You should also ask for a proof of insurance or call the insurance company with whom the contractor is insured to verify coverage.

Myth #6 – “My home is not old enough to worry about asbestos or lead testing”

You can’t really determine that without testing suspect materials. The EPA requires that all contractors who work in pre-1978 homes to perform such tests and comply with all appropriate regulations. When we work in such a home we require testing of all suspect materials (i.e. ceiling texture, trim paints, plaster, cement shingles). The cost is reasonable and it can save thousands of dollars down the road.

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Myth #7 – “I’m pretty handy so I can do some of the work myself to save money”

You may choose to do this, but it may not save money. We schedule our jobs so that we can get out of your home as soon as possible. If we wait for you to finish part of the job or have to fix things not done correctly or to code, then the project just got more expensive. If you still really want to do this it will be outlined in the “Scope of Work” document.

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Myth #8 – “I don’t want any Change Orders on my remodel.”

During a remodel, change happens. As a homeowner you may decide to add new items or demolition may reveal things such as water damage, rot, lack of insulation or outdated wiring or electrical panel. If these items are not in the original Scope of Work, you as the homeowner must decide how to move forward and they can lead to a Change Order to your projects Scope of Work and cost.

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Myth #9 – “Seems like this project is taking forever.”

Delays can occur for many reasons including weather, holidays, delayed products and sometimes even the homeowner. Making your selections during the pre-construction phase (i.e. fixtures, appliances, tile, counter tops and flooring) will save you money in Change Orders later. When these items are decided during the actual remodel you are subject to ordering lead times or out of stock problems from manufacturers.

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Myth #10 - A good remodeler should not have to use sub-contractors.

This myth sounds reasonable but if you really stop and think about it, it  is not. A home remodel may involve foundation specialists, site work, structural engineers, designer or architect, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, sheet rockers, painters and other trades. Most remodelers simply cannot afford to have a staff of this size. The issue is not using sub-contractors, but rather how qualified they are to do the work. At Chermak Construction we hold our sub-contractors to some pretty high standards:

  • They must be licensed, bonded and insured.
  • They must have a good reputation in the community.
  • Each one must complete a detailed application to work for us and go through a personal interview.
  • Sub-contractors work under the supervision of a Chermak Construction Project Developer and Site Manager who assure the quality of the finished product.

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