5 Things About Renovations I Wish More Homeowners Knew Before Starting A Home Improvement Project...
Updated: Feb 1
Are you ready to start a home improvement project, but don't have the budget to make your dream renovation a reality? Do you have pressing questions? Are you unsure about budgeting and how to plan the renovation during the pandemic? Don't worry, this post will help!
In our 20 years of service, we hear homeowners talk about the main concerns that delay or ruin their renovation project. Today, specifically we're going to address the topic of budgeting. Now more than ever during the pandemic-times, this concern has reached new heights of worry among homeowners and property investors. In this posting, we sit down with team member Irum Jones, Co-Owner & Cheif Operation Officer at Electrician On Call about solutions and options for homeowners to allow them to move forward with renovation projects. In addition to her roles, Irum actively manages renovations (and has been for 15 years!) since she's a Construction Project Manager by trade! With the experience of understanding the process of renovations from conception to completion, Irum can lift the veil for homeowners to help them push through budgeting roadblocks.
What are 5 things about renovations you wish more homeowners knew about as it relates to budget?
Renovations are complex projects, but they don't need to complicated if you understand the basics. When it comes to budgeting, my top 5 tips are:
Tip #1: Don't swap out quality products with cheaply made products that have no warranty because trust me - they will break! For example, sometimes customers will shop online to find more cost-effective lighting, fixtures, or lightbulb. So although the homeowner thinks they are reducing their project budget, what they don't understand is they are actually swapping out quality products from verifiable retailers with cheaply-made products from unverified factories. There is a big difference between price shopping quality products versus making a decision to purchase a product that may omit toxins in your home due to the unverified material used in the manufacturing of the product. Always look for a 'UL' seal from any product you purchase. The 'UL' seal gives you the reassurance that the product has been safety and quality tested. Stay away from products offered on Amazon that are too good to be true at the price point that's offered! It's likely that the product is cheaply made and will become defective soon, causing you to spend more time and money replacing the item, instead of enjoying it!
"You'll actually end up paying more in the long run when you compromise the quality of the products you decide to use. These products will break before you blink!"
- Irum Jones
And if you didn't know...
Cheaply made products don't offer a warranty (look for a minimum 5 years warranty and verify the steps to claim warranty)
Unsafe products that emit toxins into your home long term will most likely not have UL seal or a counterfeit UL seal
If the product seems too low in cost, it may be a steal - not a good deal! Stolen parts & equipment can't be registered for product, service, warranty, future maintenance through your home warranty company or covered under your insurance
Tip #2: Always hire a licensed technician that is registered to carry out the work you need them to complete. This is really the most important part. Home Improvement Lenders, Financing Programs, and Rebates provide flexible options and make those options available only when the homeowner uses a verified company or individual contractor that has active credentials with the state, local municipal, and any special certification for specialty equipment. For example, you can't use a handyman for everything! In the state of Texas, a Plumber, HVAC or Electrician is the only trade technician that can complete a specific task. If your General Contractor is using technicians that are Plumbers, HVAC, or Electricians, always ask for the license number of the technicians to verify that the actual technician performing the duty is in good standing. You'll be surprised by the number of homeowners that admit their renovation experience was horrible because either the budget or timeline was off track when they hired contractors that "moonlight".
"Moonlighting is a term that describes a person that is partially committed to the trade. This person is eager to land the job, but not eager to finish the job with quality workmanship & integrity. The person moonlighting paints a horrible experience for homeowners, which then causes homeowners to assume all home service contractors will give them a rotten experience."
- Irum Jones
Remember these key points:
Only Master Technicians are authorized to pull permits with the City
Master Technicians pull permits on work they have completed or have oversight on, they cannot sign-off of work that is performed by others or an unlicensed person, regardless of the skill level of the unlicensed person
Get everything in writing when it comes to your project. A good standing, reliable General Contractor, Tradesperson, or Contractor will have no issues providing you with proof of insurance, licensing, credentials, a written estimate, and references from other projects completed in the past.
Reliable contractors also have multiple ways to get a hold of them. Always ask for an escalation point and at minimum, 3 different ways to get a hold of them (phone number, office number, email, website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Nextdoor, etc.)
Establish a realistic communication cycle upfront. If they are unable to meet it, outsource the Project Management (PM) to someone that understands the remodeling/construction project management lifecycle. (I used to be a software development project manager in another life - so I can confirm there is some overlap - but there are contingencies that a skilled construction project manager would see, mitigate and mediate issues light-years before someone that doesn't have that experience could).
Ask about their clear background policy. For example, Electrician on Call only hires technicians that are felony-free, state-licensed, and authorized to legally work in the United States for residential work. Don't compromise the safety or security of your home if you aren't comfortable with the person entering your home or neighborhood. Technicians that work in unoccupied homes or commercial sites with no occupants are not required to have clear backgrounds.
These points I've mentioned are really important because it mitigates your risk. Every home requires an insurance policy, and every business has insurance to cover unexpected damages (if they arise), but if you lawfully and knowingly hired an unlicensed contractor, coupled with unpermitted work, and your home is damaged in the process, your insurance policy, home warranty policy, damage waiver or any other protection product will not cover the damages because of your negligence. If you can't get a hold of the contractor after the work is completed, then the work being performed won't have any quality guarantees, you may actually be opening yourself up to liability! So make sure to always protect your investments (like your home) by asking for reassurances like the ones I've mentioned.
I frequently talk to Real Estate and Mom Groups and the following questions are very important in vetting out a contractor to perform the work. Don't be afraid to ask the contractor:
How do I get a hold of you if I need to make changes to the project?
What type of estimate will you provide us? Final or Firm Estimates = no changes throughout the project in pricing Ballpark or Rough Estimate = changes throughout the course of the project
Does your estimate include taxes in the bottom line number presented?
What (if any) promotions/specials/discounts are being applied to the job? (For example, most companies discount services for Military Families & Veterans, Teachers, Seniors/Retired, First Responders or Community Volunteers)
If there is something I don't like after it's put together, what's the process and cost to make the changes?
What if I need repair or something becomes undone after the project is complete? How does that process work and will that service work be at an additional cost?
Tip #3: You can't Do It Yourself 100% of the Time, seriously you can't and you shouldn't when it comes to DIY projects requiring Electrical, HVAC, or Plumbing (or any special equipment). Don't compromise your safety and sanity trying to copy a DIY YouTube Video (which probably took the person 10 takes to get the video right!). The majority of DIY projects with zero professional technical oversight usually ends with the project 30% over budget and many times - it's never even completed! So, save yourself the hassle and give yourself peace of mind by outsourcing the areas you don't know how to do by hiring a professional. Also, HGTV is a great resource for concepts and inspiration for design & functionality, but please don't use the video clips as an attempt to complete a 5-minute training on a skill that takes almost a decade to perfect.
Tip #4: Most home improvement projects are completed in segments. Contrary to most home improvement shows or major renovations that take place, I recommend to our customers to hit major milestones every 10 days. Your project should be completed in phases, localized, and have tasks wrapped up at the 10-Day, 30-Day, 60-Day, and 90-Day mark. Not only does this help prioritize the tasks, but you also understand the dependencies upfront. The 30, 60, and 90-day deliverable should be focused on permits with the city, safety wrap-ups, walkthroughs and most importantly stabilizing your indoor air quality by cleaning your indoor air filters and air ducts from the dust, chemicals, and other VOCs that are emitted during the renovation. Remember timeframes are critical and realistic timelines come from professionals. Timelines are important because time is money! Delayed timelines cause an increase in project costs. If you don't properly plan out a project in segments, you can expect to exceed your budget before the project is ever completed.
Tip #5: Don't be afraid to explore financing options. That's right, you have options! Financing can be offered through your bank or directly with a trusted contractor. Not all financing products are the same. Financing doesn't have to be a complicated, stressful, scary situation. Our Customer Advocates are training to make the process as easy, straightforward as possible through our Home Improvement lenders that are ready to help, any project size and budget. Our trusted financing partners offer simple, straightforward paths to your dream project so you don't have to compromise your home improvement project by cutting corners.
Currently, Electrician On Call is approved through Wells Fargo Home Services, Wisetack, Synchrony, and our most popular financing option is Renovate America. If you're thinking about financing your entire project or a portion of your project, let our team know so that we can walk you through the details.
Here is a quick breakdown of the 3 most popular home improvement lenders:
Estimates above $500 automatically include the Wisetack payment option. Which is a private approval process conducted between the homeowner and the lender. If you're denied from this lender, the other lenders below may have available plans to fit your needs.
Renovate America offers options for applicants with FICOs as low as 575 or applicants looking to pay off the project over time. There are even plans that allow homeowners to pay off the project in 12 years! The application process is simple and there is no hard credit check required to receive pre-approvals or calculate terms and payments. No payments are required during the promotional period following project completion and the term limits are very flexible.
Synchrony offers multiple options for midrange credit. The process takes 5 minutes through their automated 3 Step Pre-Approval Process for financing. This lender also allows joint-financing even if the other person doesn't live in the home. Most customers select Synchrony for 0% up to 72 months/6 years. Synchrony provides No Interest/Equal Payment, Reduced APR/Fixed Payment, and Deferred Interest Promotions.
Now that you've gotten these insider-tips related to budgeting & financing options for home improvement projects, I hope it encourages you to take the next steps in improving your home's comfort level. If you have any questions or want more tips, don't hesitate to reach out to our team! It's always a pleasure to share, demystify & simplify stressful situations for our customers.
Schedule a free estimate with us by calling (214) 235 - 7251 or Book Online and select an appointment window and mention you're interested in financing to learn more.