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House Remodel Headaches to Avoid

Bathroom Remodeling
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When undergoing a house remodel, there will be headaches you can expect and those you can't.

  • Changing plans is the most common, but most costly house remodel mistake that can add as much as a few thousand dollars to projects. Research your project's needs and form a comprehensive renovation plan before beginning.
  • Much goes on behind a house's walls, like unexpected water damage and structural problems. A good contractor can anticipate these and the homeowner should set aside a contingency fund of 15% to allow for unexpected headaches.
  • Don't accept low house remodel offers. Though contractors are reducing their profit margins due to the current depressed market, they often make up their costs in labor and other areas. Many homeowners who accept low offers tend to spend up to $1,500 extra for labor. And don't agree to contracts with open-ended amounts for products and materials, which are allowances in the parlance of the remodeling industry.
  • Be sure to have all the necessary paperwork in order. Have the contractor provide copies of an up-to-date license, insurance and workers' compensation policies with the contract. The contractor should also obtain building permits and provide a lien waiver for when the project is completed. The lien waiver will protect homeowners from suppliers in case the contractor neglects to pay for the materials on time.
  • When undergoing a house remodel of older houses, the homeowner will have to brace for certain headaches. If installing new windows, the size of the openings will likely have to be changed in order to let the new windows fit.
  • A possible challenge may be updating the plumbing. Water pipes usually need to be replaced and lengthened because the existing bathroom must be remodeled and/or new bathrooms will be added. Hot water pipes in old homes can require replacement for their tendency to corrode on the inside and lower water pressure throughout the house.
  • Another potential house remodel headache lies in the electrical system. Many older homes will have only one outlet per room, requiring an increase in the number of electrical outlets and light receptacles. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may need to be hardwired in and the old fuse box system may need to be upgraded to a 200 amp circuit breaker box.
  • A final house remodel headache is upgrading or replacing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Many older homes have a hot water boiler that ties into a radiator. If a homeowner wants to keep the radiator system because of the even heat it produces, a new heat distribution system will need to be installed, like an in-floor radiant system. And if the homeowner wants central air conditioning, it will need to be installed separately from the hot water system because it can't be fed in, requiring a major investment.

Some house remodel headaches can be avoided with proper planning and the hiring of a good contractor. If renovating an older home, though, the homeowner must prepare for a number of likely challenges.

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