Video: Good and Bad Home Remodeling Investments

Which remodeling projects translate into higher resale values and give you a good return on your investment? 2 new news videos answer the question.

KSTP Video: Good Home Remodeling Investments

The most profitable home renovations are:

  • Kitchen remodel – 73%
  • Bathroom remodel – 73%
  • A 2 story home addition – 73%
  • Siding replacement – 81%

KSTP Video: Bad Home Remodeling Investments

The losers:

  • Master Bedroom suite remodel – 62%
  • Sunroom – 60%
  • Home Office – 55%

Payback stats quoted in the videos are from the National Association of Realtors.

Do you need extra insurance during your renovation?

Maybe so, according to a new article from the Wall Street journal.

As a general rule, you should check your contractor has general liability, workers compensation and auto insurance. These will cover contractor injuries and damage to your property caused by the contractor. But there are still a risks to be covered.

Your homeowner policy, meanwhile, may not cover damage that occurs during construction work, such as fire, theft or mishaps, which are major sources of claims. Theft of materials, including copper pipes, from work sites is also epidemic. The fact that smoke and burglar alarms are often turned off while workers go in and out of the house doesn’t help.

The article goes on to recommend buying a builder’s risk policy or course of construction (COC) policy which usually covers damage from wind / rain, vandalism, and theft depending on the scope of your renovation or remodel.

Read more – When renovating, get covered via MyrtleBeachOnline.

How to quit procrastinating on that kitchen remodel

Do you want a more attractive kitchen? Do you go to the trouble of window shopping for a new kitchen, collecting numerous samples & brochures, but never seem to quite “get there”? Here is some insight into your potential “procrastination”:

“I don’t think you are describing procrastination so much as a form of paralysis caused by fear of making the wrong decisions,” says David Gray, owner of Kitchen Cabinet Expo in Rancho Cordova.

“A kitchen remodel is a major undertaking. When you consider all the choices, time, effort and money involved, it is not hard to understand why many people feel overwhelmed. I think the solution is to find the right professionals you can trust to listen to your needs and help you make the right choices, provide a good experience and do a good job,” he says.

Find more insights and answers to your remodeling jitters at the Sacramento Bee.

The toughest material for kitchen countertops?

Limestone? Concrete? Granite? Corian? Tile? Laminate? Marble?

The answer none of the above. The toughest, most resilient and stain resistant counter top material is Quartz.

… the fastest-growing countertop surface. Also known as engineered stone, quartz outperformed even granite in our tests, especially in stain resistance. The latest examples also mimic granite, marble, and other natural stone better than before … While you’ll pay about the same for quartz as you will for granite (about $45 to $90 per square foot, installed), you’ll never have to reseal this engineered stone like the real stuff.

More countertop insights at the Consumer Reports Home & Yard blog.

More professional advice for the DIY General Contractor

This article features advice from DIY General Contractor expert Pay Fay, author of The Pat Fay Method: How to Manage Your Home Remodel or New Construction Without a General Contractor to Save Serious Money.

Mr. Fay offers some interesting insight into the growing trend of do-it-yourself General Contracting:

The actual cost of home improvements is not aligned well with the prices being charged, the quality of work has been declining and the working general contractor is slowly disappearing. Many now simply arrange subcontractors and provide minimal supervision. Quite frequently, general contractors will take the cost of the materials, add labor, then triple it. People are being charged $200-$250 per square foot for projects that can be accomplished for half that price.

Read How to do it yourself – as a general contractor on the Seattle Times.

Read reviews for The Pat Fay Method on Amazon.com.

See my previous post, The Top 5 Unexpected Pitfalls of being your own General Contractor.

Renovation’s Seven Deadly Sins

Deadly to your project that is. Came across an interesting take on the Seven Deadly Sins … at least as they apply to renovation and remodeling. They are:

  • DIY Pride can come before a fall,
  • Contractor Lust,
  • Greed,
  • Gluttony,
  • Anger,
  • Sloth, and
  • Envy.

For the full explanation (and an entertaining read) with insightful professional advice on how to “absolve” yourself of these failings read How to Avoid the “Seven Sins” of Remodeling on the Palisadian Post.

DIY vs DFY (Done For You) – the DIY backlash has arrived

DIY Disasters have become on cottage industry for both home improvement television and contracting consultants. The DIY backlash has arrived on these shores and – surprise! – it has a Scottish accent.

The charge of the alternate “DFY” (Done For You) brigade is being led by two Scottish interior designers who have recently made Toronto home.

Their advice to do-it-yourselfers? ” … get out the Yellow Pages and get out of the way.”

McAllister and Ryan worry the renovating public has become overconfident. They wonder if certain Martha Stewart-style television shows, home decor magazines and even the ads for hardware stores are complicit in making the rather complicated task of installing kitchen cabinets, for example, seem like a no-brainer.

“Do not inflict yourself on your home. It’s most people’s biggest investment, yet they too often treat it badly,” says McAllister.

I smell a PR grab. They are saying what some have been thinking. It’s just a shame they have to be so arrogant about it. But hey that’s what gets the press.

Read the source article Don’t try this at home on TheStar.com

The Top 5 Unexpected Pitfalls of being your own General Contractor

Acting as your own General Contractor is a DIY option which sounds good on the surface. What a great way to save lot of money on your renovation (typically 15%) by replacing the General Contractor. How hard could it be?

Hard. Here are your responsibilities as your own General Contractor:

  • managing the details of the renovation project,
  • securing the required building permits,
  • hiring, firing and scheduling subcontractors,
  • ordering building materials & supervising installation,
  • inspecting the work of subcontractors,
  • coordinating formal building inspections (with the permit office),
  • ensuring work is done to code, and
  • troubleshooting design or logistics issues.

That’s a tall order. It should be clear from the job description that not every homeowner is suited to being a General Contractor.

Acting as your own general contractor works best if you’re highly organized, detail-oriented and have a clear idea of what you want in your home.
- Bankrate

Even if you’re “organized”, you still need to decide if it’s truly worthwhile as the pitfalls may eat up your savings handily and then some.

“Don’t do it just to save some money,” he said, “because it’s a lot of work and a lot of research. If you’re not interested in the process, if you don’t want to learn more about construction than you thought you’d ever want to know, then don’t do it.”
- Graham Irwin from Remodel Guidance, SFGate

Ok you’re highly organized, good at planning and management, and really want to learn the ins and outs of construction. Most people understand that they will pay more for supplies which seems to be an acceptable trade off for the control they gain over the process. And everybody knows they have to do their research when hiring subcontractors. But are they aware of the surprise gotchas?

Here are my Top 5 Unexpected Pitfalls of being your own General Contractor.

1. Not having the same relationship with Subcontractors

A reputable general contractor usually has a good long-standing work relationship with the subcontractors, the ones who actually do the work. The general takes care of them and the subcontractors make an extra effort to do a good job on schedule.

If you are your own general contractor, the subcontractors will not have the same allegiance, so you can plan on running behind schedule a little. This can eat up at least 5 percent of the savings
- Ms Builder

That’s 5% gone …

2. Not having the time to closely monitor the project.

You need to be available to spend time on site. When needed. Could be anywhere from 10 to 40 hours per week, depending on the stage in the process. If you have a demanding full time job, be prepared to take time off. You must also

… have an intimate knowledge of the plans so that you notice any accidental deviations. If you miss something early, repairing or modifying the plans later, to accommodate the error, can use up much of your 10 percent savings. …
- Ms Builder

Ok so now your 15% savings could be gone and maybe some of your vacation time. What’s next? Ah yes …

3. The Building Permit Maze

Many people underestimate the time it will take to get building permit approval.

“Sometimes half of the project is just getting the permits … Go into the permit office as early as possible in the process to find out the restrictions. That way, you’re not spending time and money developing plans that you can’t get permits for.”
- SFGate

This homeowner relates how his building plan estimate went south because of permit problems stemming from a lack of awareness of the local building regulations, among other things. “My conservative estimate of six weeks for plan approval was woefully inadequate”.

4. Liability Insurance, Workers Compensation & Lien Laws

When you act as your own General Contractor, you become responsible for any third party injuries that may occur on your property or damage to property by subcontractors. If they aren’t covered the claim could end up landing on your homeowners’ insurance … or worse. Also, if your subcontractors don’t pay their suppliers or subcontractors, a lien could be filed against your property.

And finally, on a personal note …

5. It can KO Your marriage.

Anderson, the Oakland homeowner, remembered a book that “quoted a higher than normal percentage of DIY construction couples ending in divorce,” he said. “Be sure you’ve got a strong relationship and that you’re in 100 percent agreement about doing it yourself.”
- SFGate

Summary Judgment:

This testimonial summarizes the pitfalls very well:

While we learned many things while serving as our own GC, the top three lessons are as follows: first, if you are looking to save time, don’t be your own general [contractor]. We can easily say that the project took twice as long due to our lack of experience and limited time. Second, be sure that you and your spouse can work together and are like-minded when it comes to what you are looking for in a finished product. Last, what we saved in money we paid for in sleepless nights worrying about what needed to be done before the next subs arrive, lack of free time, and lots of other unforeseen costs.
- Jonathan Norling

How can you act as your own General Contractor, get around these pitfalls and sleep better at night? I would suggest hiring a Renovation Advisor to help bridge the gaps in your knowledge and experience. Yes it’ll cost you a few bucks but in return you might be able to keep more of your General Contractor savings, a good return or payback on your consulting investment.

Smart Homeowners: Pamper your Contractor

That’s right. You read correctly. Pamper your home improvement contractor. I’m not talking about giving him a pedicure and a massage (he he, he he he), just showing your appreciation in small ways throughout the course of the job. It’ll make a big difference in your relationship and the quality of workmanship you receive.

I enjoy visiting ContractorTalk.com and reading the threads there. As you have to be a professional contractor (in construction, remodeling or related trades) to participate and I am a homeowner with 2 left hands so to speak, I can only lurk and learn. But learn I do about how the “other half” feels and thinks ( we care about contractors here at RenoCheck / RenoWire ;) ).

One recent thread, “Good homeowner stories”, was especially insightful. I guess that means contractors might have “bad homeowner” stories too? Why yes they do, but they wanted to talk about something else for a change ha ha … So! What makes you a “good homeowner” in the mind of a contractor? What makes a difference? You would be surprised.

It’s home-made cookies or food to take home. Cold water or beverages on a “sweltering hot day”. Bonuses or tokens of appreciation (gift certificates for dinner) for a job well done. Referrals to friends and family. One contractor, “woodmagman” made a very interesting observation:

I don’t think most customers realize that we don’t hold back 10% of our service; they just get an additional 10% by being nice.

So smart homeowners: pamper your contractor. You’ll be glad you did. A little genuine thoughtfulness (good karma) goes a long way. It’s easy to just focus on how much you’re paying and wanting the job done yada yada … But contractors are people too. And when you make an extra effort on their behalf, they’ll go that extra mile in return. It’s the difference between someone just doing the job they were contracted to do and someone genuinely committed to the outcome of your home renovation or remodeling project. I know which I’d rather have …

Read the full thread Good homeowner stories and learn …

Want tips for a beautiful lawn?

Check out the latest Consumer Reports blog post 8 tips for a show-off lawn. A full feature is coming in the May 2007 issue of the magazine.

  1. Search Blog

  2. Subscribe

    • Google Reader or Homepage
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Add to My MSN
    • Add to My AOL
    • Add to del.icio.us
    • Subscribe to RSS 2.0
    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • Furl It
    • Subscribe in Rojo

  3. Add to Technorati Favorites
  4. Popular Posts

  5. Recent Posts

    1. New LED Under Cabinet Lights from DEKOR
    2. Worth reading: Ebuild’s 2009 Most Valuable Products
    3. Green Appliances: Energy efficiency makes a difference
    4. Does this energy efficient lightbulb make me look fat? Women shun CFLs in droves.
    5. Product Recall: Sauder Woodworking TV Stands Can Collapse
    6. Video: Good and Bad Home Remodeling Investments
    7. Concrete vs. asphalt driveways – which is better?
    8. Product Recall: Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmer / Edgers
    9. Do you need extra insurance during your renovation?
    10. ZZZerious emerging home trend: the snoring room
  6. Categories

  7. Archives