Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tips for Selecting and Contracting a Home Remodeling General Contractor

If you are considering a home remodeling project for your property, most remodeling projects involve either structural or aesthetic aspects of which might require several specialized technical skills. If this is the case, save yourself the headache and enlist the services of a general contractor. Many people think that they can act as their own contractor, however, when knee deep into the work, they usually realize that the work has not gone as they planned. To hire a contractor mid-way through a job, will cost more, as the contractor will have to work backwards to fix and remedy the situation.
A general contractor's job is to negotiate the contract for the entire remodeling project, and either completes the specialized work with his own crew or sub-contracts to other various house remodeling contractors. Some of the specialized areas might include, planning /architecture, concrete, plumbing, electrical, roofing, dry wall, cabinetry or painting. Most contractors, even when subbing out the various trades, have worked with their subs for long periods of time, and a relationship and trust has already been obtained between the subcontractors and the general contractor. This always makes a job run smoother.
To get an accurate bid from a potential general contractor, it is very important to plan carefully, with much thought and consideration. You may want to involve an architect or draftsman to generate the blueprints for your project. Remember that any home remodeling features not included in the plans will not be included in the cost. A general contractor is not a mind reader. This is where extras and change orders usually occur. Otherwise know as "unexpected expenses" - which could potentially make you go above budget.
Once you have detailed plans for your project, you need to start the selection process for a general contractor. Be upfront about your expectations, provide your contractor with a set of plans and request they be realistic about time, cost and interruption factors. It is not wise to make a selection based on price alone, other considerations are equally important.
Experience and references is something you would like to address with your contractor. Will they simultaneously be working on other projects at the same time as yours. How much time will they be supervising on the job per day? A contractor will usually not be present on the job for the entire day, as he is normally supervising other jobs as well. However, you should see the contractor once or twice a day, it is their job to make sure progress is being made and the job is kept neat and clean. The contractor will typically come once or twice a day to inspect all work. Always ask about license and insurance, this is a must, especially in Florida. You have the ability, online, to always check the General Contractors license. Here you will find any complaints made about the contractor or if he/she license is in good standing.
When negotiating the contract for your home remodeling project remember that a reliable contractor will agree to contract terms that will protect the interest of both parties. It is fairly common for a contractor to ask for 10-33% of the estimated cost in advance, most contracts provide for payment as work progresses.
If you will require the services of both a contractor and designer, which is common, get them together as a team as early in the project as possible. Each party can benefit from the other's experience and expertise. Not only will the project itself go more smoothly, but the end result will bet the best possible. Checking and notifying neighbors is always a respectable thing to do. Let them know that you will have multiple working vehicles parked along the road. Some of the noise may be loud and dirt and clutter may be unavoidable at times. This will prevent the workers from being interrupted and delayed. Keep in mind that with renovations, any home owner who is still living in the house, that inconveniences and disruptions of daily routine are unavoidable, so should be expected. Let the workers work, the mess will be cleaned daily.
Things to be wary of when reviewing estimates:
  • Contractors that request large deposits "to buy materials." Established, reputable contractors maintain charge accounts with their suppliers.
  • Requests complete payment up front (this should never happen)
  • Accepts only cash payments
  • Contractors who are vague. Demand detailed, written bids and contracts that specify in detail the project, materials used, and work to be performed. (Keep in mind, the contractor cannot give you this information until you have picked out all of the material you wish to use, flooring, roof tile, appliances, cabinets. Prices vary to greatly to guesstimate)
  • Pressures you for a quick hiring decision or offers a discount for an on the spot hiring.
  • Requests that you obtain the building permits
  • Contractors who provide you with a P.O. box instead of a physical address, and a telephone answering service instead of their own telephone number for contact purposes.

These are some tips to help you help yourself when entering a remodel project. Always remember to ask questions and to also provide your contractor with the necessary information so he can assist you as much as possible. Your results will speak for themselves!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


As we have all witnessed, housing prices have dropped over 40% just in this year. There is a surplus of homes for sale and Foreclosure's on the market right now, which puts "you" in a negotiating position. As the economy nears its bottom, now is the time to buy. Whether you are buying a For closed property for your own personal residence or investment purposes - you will not receive a better deal than in today's economy. It may take 2 years for equities to rise again, but there are plenty of renters who will pay your mortgage as your investment slowly rises. It is, with out doubt, a buyers market.

Overwhelming is not the word when looking at For closed homes. They may be run down, deteriorating, overgrown and in pretty bad condition. They are typically not appealing to the eye. However, the average cost to bring a foreclosure to rental ready condition can be between $10,000 and $50,000. Keep in mind, if you are lucky enough to find one that isn't run down, you will be paying more for the purchase price. Many times when coming across properties such as these, there will be code violations that the city requires to be fixed before anyone can move in. When you are looking to buy a foreclosure you will find illegal room additions, non-permitted renovations and general maintenance issues like leaky plumbing, electrical repairs, paint damage, carpet and flooring damage and roofing neglect.

As long as you find a Certified, licensed and insured General Contractor to help you with these issues and educate yourself first - you can renovate your newly purchased For closed home with ease. Always discuss budget and project goals with your Contractor. Most contractors offer free consultations and free estimates, as does Kennedy's Quality Homes, Inc. Open communication is the key when remodeling a home. Sometimes when dealing with large companies you do not get the pleasure of meeting the General Contractor, only his workers. Find a company that is moderate in size and specializes in Home Remodeling. Please know that hiring an "unlicensed" contractor will turn your project into a nightmare. Do not hire a handyman service to tend to your needs, more often than not they will offer you a great price but will make a bigger mess out of your project and you will eventually spend more to get it all straightened out. Use a professional, someone who specializes in this industry and get it right the first time.

Buying a foreclosure and remodeling it can make your home ready to rent. Or it will make a great inheritance for your grandchildren (Hint...Hint....to the grandparents of my children) :) This will allow you to generate rental income as property values rebuild over the next few years. Now is the time to invest in cheap real estate - you will get the return on your money.

Remember to plan first. Speak and present your goals / plans to a Contractor. It is the Contractor's objective to provide you with a successful and on target outcome. It is your referral that will help make that Contractor successful, therefore most Contractors aim to please. Remember to refer your Contractor if you are happy with his/her work - he/she will appreciate it and in turn be there for your on your next endeavour.

Cheap Real Estate is now!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Check List for Remodeling your Home

Many homeowners have come to know that remodeling the home is an affordable and cheaper option than to buy a new home. With the cost of a new houses going up day by day, remodeling is considered to be the best option of getting a new look and feel from one's old house. Homeowners in Florida have changed, and instead of thinking bigger they're choosing to be smarter. Through renovating, their motivation is not only to update the look and feel of the home, but also to improve the comfort and utility of their space to meet the changing needs of their lifestyle.

Some thoughts when remodeling in Florida are to have an airy, well ventilated house with not so many extra walls. Many older houses in Florida are not able to handle the hot sun of summers. Houses need to be energy-efficient in its construction. Older homes truly need to be remodeled in order to gain this maximum comfort within their home. Don't forget, remodeling also raises the value of your home. So keep in mind, with remodeling an older home you are gaining comfort, lowering utility bills, and raising the value of your home all at the same time.

  • Many factors go into remodeling such as:

  • Be familiar with current housing prices in your neighborhood.

  • Using a home equity loan or line of credit for remodeling is a popular way of making good use of the equity you have built up in your home.

  • Safety and Security - do a checkup of your house.

  • For tax purposes, keep a record of all improvements done to your home.

  • Have annual inspections for wood destroying insects.

  • Schedule house maintenance on a regular basis (Kennedy's Quality Homes, Inc. specializes in general maintenance)

  • Keep a record of the names and numbers of your sources with having repairs done, in order to remain organized.

  • Remember that the end result of every construction project is transformation - you will be claiming a new view, a new layout, a new environment - every remodel project results in a new space.

Some updated information regarding Kennedy's Quality Homes, Inc.:

We will be launching a new TV Commercial on the following channels:
The Golf Channel
Headline News
Tru TV (former Court TV)
The History Channel
Be optimistic and See the Possibilities, an optimistic person sees the possibilities in any situation they face. They will seek a positive outcome and work in that direction. Optimists will see obstacles as temporary and look for ways to overcome them. Optimistic people believe they can achieve their goals and will work to make continued progress - Kennedy's Quality Homes, Inc. believes this is the thought of success.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Inspections and Inspectors

Inspectors and Inspections:

The building inspector that works for your local government produces a building-inspection report, but this report is often for his eyes only. He is making sure that the house meets all building codes. This creates tremendous confusion with many homeowners because many believe that if their home passes the building inspection and is granted a Certificate of Occupancy, that all must be well. This is not true. Many government inspectors, and top-quality builders will tell you that the building code is a set of minimum standards. Passing the government-mandated building inspection is like getting a 70 percent on a test.

You want a real professional to hand you an inspection report when you hire him to discover defects in a new or existing home. You need to hire a certified home inspector, one that has the best credentials. There are any number of organizations that certify inspectors. The requirements to get certified run from filling out a form and mailing a check all the way to passing a written technical test, performing a minimum of 250 professional, fee-paid home inspections conducted in accordance with published standards of practice and a code of ethics. The best inspectors attend routine continuing education to stay up to date with the latest in home construction techniques, new materials and professional practices. You want an inspector that’s completed all the things I just mentioned. Florida general contractors are required to take continued education courses every two years, to remain active.

The top inspectors will look at the exterior building materials, crawl spaces, and attic spaces.
An inspection should last between 1-2 hrs. depending on the size of the project.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Worries Enhanced By Today's Economy

I am finding that with the economy people are shying away from fixing up their homes and business'. As a General Contractor, I have to stress that now is the time. So many General Contractors have switched from "New Home Construction" to "Remodel Construction." The housing market dropped and these contractors cannot sell what they have built. Therefore, they are all moving into the remodel field. Contractors are very competitive because of this sudden overflow into residential construction. However, please do not be fooled. New Home construction and Remodel construction are very different. If you are dealing with a contractor that spent the last 10 years building new homes, chances are, he will not be knowledgeable in remodel construction. Remodel construction is very precise work, no room for a mess or untidy working area's. Considering the client is already living in the residence, the working environment has to be kept neat and clean at all times. When remodeling, it is a Contractors nightmare to have anything go wrong or not be perfect. We know the client is going to check our work daily. In new construction there is no one to check the precision of the work being completed. Check your contractors history. If you are looking for remodel work, find a residential contractor, it will pay off in the end. Putting money into your home during this struggle we are facing with the economy is a no lose situation. The housing market will come back, so your house enhancements will pay off. Not to mention the percentages for General Contracting has dropped. If your looking for a deal, do it now. Once the housing markets come back the Contracting rates will rise. Take advantage of what you can in this economy.