Sunday, February 26, 2012

Top 5 Considerations For Your Renovation

Here are five major points to consider you should consider for any renovation. It is important that you carefully plan your renovation to avoid problems.

1. Conceptualize: your vision and know what you are looking to achieve. Do you want a modern design with clean lines, or perhaps shabby chic or the warmth is a country style?

2. Budget: know how much you have to spend and save some money for contingency. However, if you plan well you should not have to worry so much about contingency.

3. Plan: plan and then plan some more. Be sure you know what you want and how you are going to achieve your goal. There are planning tools available if you need help.

4. Research: all materials that will be required to help validate your budget and get estimates from and complete due diligence on contractors. Due diligence should include references, site visits and checking local organizations that may have negative information on a contractor such as the Better Business Bureau. There are several website that can help you find local contractors. However my best results have been from word of mouth.

5. Contracts: ensure that you have a fully executed contract that details all work expected from the contractor, in as much detail as possible. Don't take anything for granted.

After you have carefully go through all the points listed above, do it again to be sure that you have not missed anything. I will be posting more on each of these points in separate post, so stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Budget and Plan Your Renovation - Wisely

Time is money, money is time.

Planning and Budgeting is crucial to a successful renovation. A great deal of time spent on research is the invaluable and will save you renovation time, money and headaches in the long run.

Research should start with what you are looking for in design and function; then what material and labor you will need to achieve your goal. For example when renovating a bathroom what functions are important to you? Do you prefer showers to baths, in which case you may want a steam shower over a bathtub.  In any event you want to choose and price every component that is required for a renovation before you start.

I started by going to several showrooms and design centers for ideas. If I saw something I liked I took a picture with my phone camera and jotted down the make and model number so I can look for the best price online.

For my master bathroom I went with a walk in shower with multiple showerheads so I had to choose:

Wall tile
Floor tile
Grout color
Shower body and trim
Shower enclosure
Sink and faucet
Lighting (recessed/over medicine cabinet)
Cabinetry (medicine)
Door and knobs
Paint color

This is a long list and there are many choices to choose from out there. It will take time and patience to get what you want at the price you want. You will need to do this for every room you are renovating.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Frustration

I warned you in my introductory post that I would be sharing some frustrations with you as we went along. Here goes the first post:

When buying appliances beware of PC Richards. I bought a fridge, dishwasher and stove from PC Richard. They were all high-end appliances, which I paid a fair amount of money for. When I was purchasing them I was offered an insurance policy for all appliances that would have cost an additional $1700. I declined, thinking – hey - I am buying top of the line appliances.

In any event they all were good with the exception of the dishwasher, which did not work at all. I spoke to PC Richard and the manufacturer, Fisher Paykel, neither would help stating I did not have insurance. So here I am with a brand new $1200 dishwasher that I never washed a dish in and no one cares. This battle isn't over by a long shot. More to come on the dishwasher.  Does anyone have a suggestion?

I am going to start with adding to another I believe it is important to get as much information out there as possible to help others.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sponsor Unit

The Scope: EVERYTHING!!! This means new electric, plumbing, walls, lighting fixtures, kitchen and bathrooms.  

I bought a sponsor unit in a co-op building in Chelsea.  So what is a sponsor unit? A sponsor unit is an apartment that is owned by the original owner of a building, who could not sell the unit because he had a rent control tenant who did not purchase the unit at the time of conversion. The “owner” continues to collect the rent from the tenant and is responsible for maintenance and fees to co-op association. The “owner” cannot sell the apartment until the rental tenant vacates the apartment. In the case of the apartment I bought, the tenant vacated upon his death. He was in his mid eighties and lived in the apartment for over 50 years. Once vacated the sponsor can transition the apartment out of the rent control cycle and sell the apartment.

Needless to say, the apartment had not been renovated in more than fifty years - hence it needed EVERYTHING!!

So where do you start with a renovation? At the beginning of course?  Hopefully you read my Let’s Renovate post; it will give you some good direction on starting your renovation.

Careful planning is essential and you should start with your budget. How much money do you have to spend? This is a very crucial part of the project and I must warn you that slippage and overspending WILL occur not only on materials, but also due to additional work required by the contractors, that were not initially scoped out. When I started this project I thought I had budgeted properly; captured all the materials I would need with associated costs; fair estimates for the general contractor, electrician, plumber; and the necessary permits.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let's Renovate

When you start a renovation it would be wise to do your homework. There are several sites that will help you in getting started by providing you with specific details – such as necessary permits you will need. LetsRenovate.Com provides you will a lot of information that will start you in the right direction. The site will detail a lot many important issues such as the following:

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The End, Almost

If you have made it this far you would have read my introduction. Welcome and I hope you find the information useful. This next paragraph is extremely important and should be heeded.

I will begin at the end of a renovation, which SHOULD BE a final payment to anyone who has done work on your project. It is extremely important that you do not pay anyone in full until you are 100% satisfied that the work has been done to the agreed specifications. If you do not hold enough money back you may lose the leverage needed to get final touches done, or get them back to fix something. Once they are paid they will move on to the next job. Contractors will insist on a certain amount of money to start the job and schedule payments based on the amount of work completed. Some will start with asking for as much as 50% to start, 25% halfway and 15% three quarters of the way through. Personally, I would never agree to that. I don't know anyone who starts a job and gets paid before any work is done. What is fair to consider is - what materials will be needed to start a job - which is a good place to start. Keep in mind, a fair and reputable contractor will not have cash flow problems and would not look to drain you of your cash before he has lifted a hammer.  Last on this matter, I would suggest that you always have enough money held back to complete the job – just in case the contractor walks away, or if you decide you are not happy with the work they are doing and want to send them away.

For my project, I am now at the last stage. Next week the kitchen designer, American Classic Kitchens, will finish some minor work based on the fact that they mis-measured a few pieces of molding and finish panels. I will have a separate posting on this particular process and company in due course. However, in regards to payment, they had in fact extracted all their money from me (I trusted them because they are in the Design Center on 57th Street with many reputable firms, big mistake), but subsequent enhancements and non-payment put me back in the drivers seat. Again, I will explain later. In addition to American Classic Kitchens, I have to pay the General Contractor who still has a few "touch ups" to complete. I have enough money to complete any work in case one of them fail to complete the remaining work to my satisfaction.

I would say that I am in good shape at the end of this project, well so far anyway!!

Stay Tuned!!