Custom Homes
Unlike your accountant or stockbroker, your remodeler will be a part of your daily life and available for on-the-job education. He or she will be privy to your personal life, more so than your doctor or lawyer. Your contractor will know how you look early in the morning and how well behaved your dog is. It makes sense that you should take some time to carefully select this person and make sure that it is someone to whom you can ask questions.

PROPER PLANNING IS IMPORTANT
For considerably less money than a new home, careful planning of improvement projects will let you update your home, increase the value of your investment and customize your living space. As part of the planning process, look over your property carefully. What repairs are needed? What improvements would you like to make? Think ahead and determine your future needs. Professional remodeling contractors can help you in your planning by outlining options and discussing the improvements you can make within your budget. Be sure to review your homeowners insurance policy and make adjustments for the added value of the work being done.

THINK ABOUT DESIGN AND FUNCTION
Design and function should be foremost in your mind if you’re thinking of adding a room or converting an existing one. When planning a larger, more complicated project, give thought to details, such as intended use of the space; flow of the space; where you want electrical outlets, telephone jacks and cable hook-ups located; the type of lighting required; your current and future storage needs; and whether you want to include luxury items. These details will enable your home improvement to better suit your needs and your lifestyle.

A professional remodeling contractor or design service should be consulted about design and function of any remodeling project. He or she also can help you with time- and money-saving hints.

COMPLY WITH LOCAL CODES AND PERMITS
Building codes have been established by most cities, towns and counties. They vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. A building permit generally is required whenever structural work is involved or when the basic living area or footprint of the home is to be changed. Ask your real estate agent or your insurance agent about the local requirements in your area. Also, if you live in a deed-restricted community, be sure to review your copy of the homeowners agreement. Under some agreements, it’s your responsibility to notify your homeowners association if you intend to make any home improvements. This may include getting the plans approved by a design committee.

A WELL-WRITTEN CONTRACT IS ESSENTIAL
Before any remodeling work can begin, there must be a complete contract. This holds the job together and ensures that all parties involved agree to the same vision and scope for the project.

According to NARI, following are some key areas you should look for in a contract:
  • Be sure the contract includes the contractor’s name, address, phone and license number.
  • It details what the contractor will and will not do.
  • Your contractor should detail a list of materials for the project in your contract. This includes size, color, model, brand name and product.
  • The contract should include the approximate start date and substantial completion dates.
  • Study all required plans carefully. Insist that you approve them and that they are identified in your written contract before any work begins.
  • Federal law requires a contractor to give you written notice of your right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing it. This is provided that it was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or an appropriate trade premises such as your home.
  • Make sure financial terms are understood and spelled out in the contract. The total price, payment schedule and any cancellation penalty should be clear.
  • A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year should be written into the contract. The warranty must be identified as either “full” or “limited.” The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty (e.g., contractor, distributor or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure the time period for the warranty is specified.
  • A binding arbitration clause is also a good inclusion in the event a disagreement occurs. Arbitration may enable you to resolve disputes without costly litigation.
  • Thoroughly review the entire contract and make sure you understand it before signing it.
  • Consider the scope of the project and make sure all items you’ve requested are included. If you do not see a specific item in the contract, consider it not included. Never sign an incomplete contract. Always keep a copy of the final document for your records.
  • Consider having a legal professional review the contract before it is signed.

UNDER ARIZONA LAW
In Arizona, a contractor must be licensed to legally perform jobs that require a building permit or when labor and materials for the project cost $750 or more. Some local counties and districts also may require contractors to be licensed or register, so check local requirements prior to starting construction. Additional city permits may be necessary as well.

   
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