Remodeling is an emotional process. While the pros are comfortable banging away at your precious home and living in clouds of dust and debris, most homeowners are not. Despite their best efforts, dust will get into your home and things will go wrong. Prepare yourself emotionally for the worst and smile at the minor mistakes.

The demolition stage is exciting. The project is under way. You have never felt your house shake like that before, but no worries—you took the pictures off the walls and packed up everything fragile.

The framing stage goes fast as the space takes shape. The architect verifies that work is going according to plan and makes minor modifications.

Things slow down a bit as the plumber, electrician, and HVAC contractors cut holes in the framing and run pipes, wires, and ducts. Daily progress isn’t always apparent, and inspections can add downtime.

Drywall goes up, and wow! Big changes!

They mud and tape the drywall and everything looks better—but the dust gets everywhere. “The end is almost in sight,” you think. Unfortunately, that’s not true. All the finicky work is just starting: trim, tile, cabinets, countertops, painting, hardware, plumbing, and installing the electrical fixtures. Days go by when nothing seems to happen. Everyone gets frustrated during this stage, and knowing that is half the battle. Take a deep breath and relax.

The secret to sanity lies in having a clear schedule that indicates when each step of the process will take place; your GC should provide this.

Stick to Your Plan

Making changes during construction is a surefire way to extend the length of your project and increase its cost. Trust the design and avoid last-minute changes. The exception, of course, is the unexpected condition that shows up during demolition (carpenter ants, termites, dry rot, mold, missing footings, and so forth). In such cases, a change order is a necessary tool for making legitimate modifications.

Quality Assurance

The inspections your building department provides are important, but they often miss crucial details and they generally don’t go far enough.

Unless you are taking your remodel through a green-certification process, you will probably have little review or evidence of what took place. Retaining your architect to perform construction oversight is well worth the minor cost.

In addition, include three simple items in your contract:

  • Require third-party review and documentation, measuring the home’s airtightness, combustion safety, and proper appliance and duct installation.
  • Require photo and written documentation at each step of the process. Be specific about which materials and stages should be documented.
  • Include warranty language in compliance with your state’s laws. Require that subcontractors in each trade sign off, stating that their work was performed as specified.

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