Home Improvement Construction; a Homeowner's Guide to Building a Home Addition - Part II

When undergoing home improvement construction to build a home addition, most homeowners rely on professional help from a building contractor or a number of home improvement contractor professionals

In part 1, planning and designing a new home addition was discussed; here in part 2 issues involving screening and working with a home addition contractor will be explored.

Getting Professional Help

One key factor in selecting a home contractor is price; what the bottom line cost will be to complete the project. One of the steps discussed in part 1 involved obtaining building cost per square foot quotes from several local residential building contractor professionals.

Note the difference between a building estimate and a building quote. Estimates are an open-ended ball park idea of what the total cost may be. A building quote represents a firm bottom line figure. Unless, of course, an unforeseen detail arises that would affect the projected cost.

Most contractors allow 10% to 20% or more on top of a cost estimate to call it a quote, as a safety margin on their end. Some contractors will pass savings on to the homeowner for lower labor or material costs in the final bottom line invoice.

The type and size of project you are planning will dictate the number of professionals required to complete the work. Even a small home addition may need the services of an architect or designer to draw up the blue print for the building plan. (Sketches and rough drawings are usually not acceptable for local building code purposes when applying for a building permit.)

For larger, more extensive projects, the services of a residential architect could prove invaluable. Not only in assuring that the new home addition blends in well with the existing structure, but that building code requirements are met, as well.

When looking for professionals for your project, there are several resources from which to draw. Word of mouth from friends, relatives, or neighbors who have had a good experience with a particular contractor is a good place to start. Another resource is newspaper or yellow page advertisements.

Reliable, reputable local contractors usually have been in business for a number of years, and will provide a number of references. Untrustworthy contractors usually do not last in one area very long. Therefore, it is important to follow up on references and work history.

What About Contractor to Homeowner Matchmaking Services?

Another good resource for locating reliable service providers are Internet home improvement contractor matching service web sites. Be wary, however, of sites that tout pre-screened home contractors. Sometimes the only “screening” contractors get is payment of fees for being listed on the site.

On those sites that do prescreen, how extensive is the screening process, and how often is information updated? Be aware that contractor licensing, insurance, references, workmanship rating, and other pertinent information might be outdated and no longer valid. In fact, many prescreening sites carry a disclaimer in regards to contractor dependability.

Therefore, utilize only those sites that provide complete information on each contractor, and then play it safe. Make sure each candidate's credential and background information checks out.

Personally interview each candidate. And contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and/or local building authority to see if any violations or complaints have been lodged against the contractor.

The Project Contract

It is important to thoroughly define project details, requirements, and specifications on paper, within a legal work contract.

A contract usually contains three standard parts:

  • An easy to understand text document with precise project details.
  • A set of blue prints or house plan drawings for the home improvement construction project.
  • A list of materials required for the project; complete with specific material grades, brand names and product model types.

The text document usually defines a specific work schedule that includes inspection and completion dates for key phases of the home addition, a payment schedule (advance/weekly/ monthly installments, and final installment at completion). Also, clear designation of liability and insurance to cover injuries, theft, or damage. As well as any disclaimers or waivers in the event of unforeseen delays; such as inclement weather or other acts of God beyond the contractor's control.

Any work to be undertaken or completed by the homeowner should also be thoroughly outlined in the contract. As well as responsibilities of the contractor and any subcontractors through all stages of the house construction project.

This may include:

  • House addition plan approval and building permits from local building authority
  • Site preparation; clearing debris, trees, shrubs, etc.
  • Excavation to prepare the foundation, water well, septic system, etc. (if applicable)
  • Foundation, masonry, brickwork
  • Rough framing, roofing, windows, siding, etc.
  • Mechanical - plumbing, electric, HVAC
  • Drywall, insulation; painting/wall covering
  • Flooring
  • Finish Carpentry
  • Worker compensation and liability insurance coverage
  • Budget guidelines for house construction material, appliances, fixtures, etc.; including specific brand names, models, and grades
  • Cost outlines and breakdowns for entire project, including payment schedules and completion dates for the various phases of construction
  • Construction site clean up and debris disposal

If a contractor refuses to commit to or satisfactorily address any of these aspects of the project, it might be wise to select one who will.

By thoroughly checking credentials and background of each contractor candidate before hiring, and by following these guidelines for drawing up the contract, you are well on your way to a successful home addition project.

Find Reliable Local Contractors the Smart Way

To find a reliable local home improvement contractor, homeowners all over America are taking advantage of services offered at Locating a licensed California contractor or a New York building contractor is fast, easy, and absolutely free - without obligation!

Homeowners can sign up free, and post their new home addition project online, where it is immediately visible to area contractors 24/7. Local member contractors also receive e-mail notification of new projects within their scope of services. And then provide competitive bids within days, even hours from project posting.

Homeowners can use the features at to view company profile pages, references, licensing/insurance/certification credentials, customer comments, and photo galleries of company staff and recently completed projects for each member contractor. And then make an informed hiring decision, or hire no one at all. Remember, there is no obligation whatsoever.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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