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Monday, July 8, 2013

Top 5 Problems with Hiring a Contractor to Finish Your Basement

It is easy to believe that hiring a contractor will magically transform your basement into a masterpiece of living space. 

While it is certain that professionals know what they are doing, they can burn quite a hole in your pocket. Furthermore, their work may not always mirror your expectations. So before you decide to hire a contractor and sign a heavy check, do consider the following problems that you might have to tackle:

1. Expensive
 Labor costs can exceed the total material costs by as many as three times. This simply translates to a huge cash leak of thousands of dollars. Often, people fail to realize what they could do with this extra cash that they pay for labor charges. You could utilize it to purchase higher quality materials, better lighting, plush furnishings, and much more.

2. The Trust Factor
A contractor comes with an assortment of hassles – paperwork, billing, multiple invoices, and what not. And in spite of all this, a few months later a lot of us find ourselves coping with waterproofing faults, broken tiles, and things not working as smoothly as expected. In other words, it is only foolish to trust a contractor without any references. Get references from family and friends. If that is not possible, please do check with the references provided by the contractor.

3. Constant Monitoring
 Hiring a contractor to finish your basement isn't where your job ends. From that point on, you will have to discuss the fine details, negotiate, plan the work, and constantly monitor the progress. This will take your nearly as much, if not more, time as it does to finish your basement on your own.

4. Hidden Costs
The price quoted by the contractor may not cover all the expenses that will be incurred during the finishing process. Besides the lump sum you will initially allocate to the contractor, you will also have to bear extra costs that come along the way.

5. Unmet Expectations
The finished basement may not be your dream come true. There are bound to be differences in what you had planned and what the contractor actually delivers. You may be thinking of tiles of a certain color and texture, but the ones used may be entirely different. And if you decide to do purchase the materials yourself, then the contractor isn't really helping you much except charging you excessive labor costs. In such a case, you might as well spend a little more time and finish the basement too. For those who love doing new things, this can be a great one-time experience.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Best and Worst Time to Hire a Kansas City Contractor

When you think it is the best time for you to hire a Kansas City contractor and start remodeling your house, everybody else is probably thinking the same. Sure, summer is a great season to work outdoors, but also the most expensive. Kansas City home contractors are in high demand during summer and their busy schedule allows them to charge hiked rates.

Thus, the temperature alone can’t tell you if it is the best time to hire a contractor and kick-start your project. Looking at the forces of supply and demand and understanding how they affect prices, you will see that summer is actually the worst time to hire a contractor. It is wiser to hire one about two months before or after their peak schedule as then you will be able to negotiate a better rate.

The same principles apply to material costs as well. All the wood, pipes, electrical fittings, paints and adhesives that you need for your remodeling project tend to be expensive when they are in high demand. The off-season is indeed the best for material purchase in Kansas City as well getting a contractor to remodel your house. Even though it might not present to you the best of working conditions, you will benefit from some key advantages such as:

  • Lower contractor fees,
  • Cheaper labor,
  • Cheaper construction/remodeling materials,
  • The undivided attention of your contractor, as you will perhaps be their only client.

However, if you plan to take charge of some of the remodeling tasks and want to finish them yourself, it is best to chalk out a plan well in advance. Have the contractor finish the major and more difficult jobs in the off-season and you can take up the less demanding ones in the following months.

Bottom line, the best time to hire a contractor is when both your hassle and cost are at a minimum. And since these might not happen at the same time, you will have to look for a smart trade-off and grab one when you see one!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finishing a Basement – Contracting vs. Doing it Yourself

Many homeowners wish to finish their basements, not only because it offers additional usable space for living and recreation, but also because it greatly enhances the resale value of the house. Finishing a basement can be a high-cost affair and seemingly very tedious. Therefore, a lot of people deliberate between hiring a contractor and doing it on their own. Here are a pros and cons of these two options. Assessing the trade-off between the two will help you decide which choice is better for you:

Contracting Pros:

  • Professional contractors are experienced and have access to all the necessary equipment and machinery. They are also well connected with suppliers so they know where to get the materials from.
  • Full-time contractors can devote several days at a stretch and get the job done in a matter of weeks, ensuring that your basement is finished as fast as possible.
  • They are also well aware of current trends and practices in the industry, and can offer you the latest information and advice on finishing or remodeling your basement space.

Contracting Cons:

  • Labor charges account for as much 75% of the total cost. Therefore, homeowners on a tight budget may want to consider finishing the basement on their own.
  • You will have to deal with a lot of paperwork arising from work permits, drawings and layouts, invoices, material billing, etc.
  • A contractor may not work in the same manner as you would like him to. Things done differently give different results, and the contractor can never guarantee if you will be pleased with the work done.

DIY Pros:

  • If you have ample time at hand, you can easily learn how to finish your basement. In fact, if you have the knack for doing things with your own hands and love learning new skills, this is one experience you are bound to enjoy. Your finished basement will be something you will be proud of forever.
  • Doing it yourself will help you save on the labor cost. You can use these savings for other purposes such as purchasing lights, furnishings, and other decorative installations for your finished basement.
  • You will actually find some tasks very simple. Hanging doors and trim, drop ceiling construction, and framing and installing drywall are jobs that can be done in simple steps, one at a time.

DIY Cons

  • Some other tasks may not be so simple, and you might have to consult a professional for help. Electrical work, flooring, and plumbing are areas where you might face problems if you do not have prior experience or knowledge. It is advisable to take help from an electrician for the installation of electrical wiring and fittings.
  • It may take up quite a lot of your time. A busy person may not be able to dedicate too many working hours to get the basement completed in a reasonable amount of time.