Since the flood last spring, there's been a whole lot of renovation in my part of town. Some old houses were gutted to the studs and rebuilt from the walls in. Some folks dug deeper basements, or raised their roofs, or both. Some once-modest bungalows have doubled or tripled in size. Truth be told, most of the work looks pretty good from a moving car.
When renovation breaks out all over, good and bad things happen. One good thing is that property values go up. Another good thing is that neighbors talk to each other about their renovations. They exchange names of contractors, compare notes and offer word-of-mouth or over-the-Internet recommendations and condemnations. So far, so good.
Here's a bad thing: The average home-owner, or even a fairly house-savvy homeowner, doesn't know much about how a house goes together, or how a house works. When neighbors start comparing notes on contractors, they seem to focus to two things: whether or not the contractor is friendly, and how well his crew cleans up at the end of the day. Simply put, if you're a friendly contractor who doesn't leave a mess behind, everybody loves you.
Problem is, hiring a contractor just because he's nice and tidy can set you up for a king-hell bamboozling. I've seen it happen often, and I've seen it happen recently. Before you hand a contractor a satchel full of money and turn him loose on your house, consider this: Anybody with a thimbleful of brains can get a contractor's license in Tennessee. There are contractors aplenty who talk a good game, bathe and shave regularly and confine the construction debris in the dumpster. Some of them work really cheap. Believe me when I tell you, a cheap contractor is very expensive. Once his truck is out of your driveway, you'll start paying for all his cut corners and sloppy labor.
Of course, there are some excellent contractors in our part of the world. The best ones have been in business for a long time and have a long list of customers who are pleased with their work. At the other end of the stick, though, there are state-licensed contractors who can't read a lick. In Tennessee, there's no requirement that a contractor know how to read.
House parts come with specifications and instructions. Anybody who works on a house needs to be able to read those specifications and instructions. When you hire people to work on your house, make sure all of them can read. Trick them if you have to. Hand them the installation specifications for the windows, or roof shingles and say something like, "Dang it! I left my glasses in the Volvo. I can't read this, uh, grocery list. Can you tell me what it says?" If the answer is no, replace that worker.
After you've dismissed the non-readers, collect the specification sheets from the remaining workers, and read the specs yourself. Don't stop reading until you know how to install windows and doors, and how to shingle and flash a roof. If the specifications befuddle you, call the manufacturer and get a technician to explain everything that you don't understand. Later, when the workers are installing your house parts, take pictures of all the things they install as they're installing them. You'll need those pictures if the windows or roof start to leak, and the contractor tells you that all the work was done "to code."
Hint to the vigilant: You might be able to trump contractor and code-inspector excuses if you get your very own copy of Code Check Complete. You can buy it here: http://store.taunton.com/onlinestore/item/070930.html.
I know, I know. You shouldn't have to trouble yourself with learning how a house is put together. Your contractor and laborers should know how to read. The county codes inspectors should make sure that all the work on the house complies with the building code. Your home inspector, if you hire one, should find any obvious defects and explain them to you. Don't count on all of that happening.
Like it or not, you are Quality Control. If you choose an excellent contractor who has an excellent crew — and you watch them closely — you might just end up with an excellent renovation. If you choose the cut-rate guy whose skills are limited to a good sales pitch and above-average cleanup habits, you'll most likely end up with a botched job that will cost you money and aggravation for years to come.
YOU LIE Betsy! The FINFICALOM Foundation released a now legendary study two years ago showing…
Totally overlooked is that the fact that the $750,000 tax revenue from that residential/commercial development…
Thanks Carrie! Long live Planned Parenthood!
Either Haslem has absolutely NO f*#*ing clue, or he is a soul less shame less…
Eagerly awaiting the next installment of how great Obamacare is.