Top Five Questions to Ask When Planning Boston Home Renovations

Planning a home improvement project takes time and careful attention. Several important questions help homeowners to get off on the right foot and tackle Boston home renovations with confidence. Realize the greatest value by starting your project on the ideal path.

# 1 - What Is the Scope of Your Project?

Major home renovation projects include:

  • Kitchen remodel
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Home addition
  • Garage addition
  • Basement finishing
  • Flooring installation
  • Electrical upgrade or major repair
  • Plumbing upgrade or major repair
  • Deck or patio construction
  • Swimming pool installation
  • Roof replacement
  • Windows and doors replacement
  • Many more…

Your home renovation will encompass the areas of your property that require remodeling or repair, and may combine several of the projects listed above. It's important to start with an overall view and understand what areas of your home will change with the renovation.

Do you need to bring in a general contractor to hire, organize and manage various specialized contractors? Can you stretch the project out over several months, or does the schedule need to move forward efficiently to account for seasonal changes?

Talk to other local homeowners about their Boston home renovations. Each project may be unique, but the experience and connections made offer direction for your upcoming renovation.

# 2 - Do You Need to Hire a Registered Home Improvement Contractor?

According to the Massachusetts government, any contractor working on projects larger than $500 needs to register as a Home Improvement Contractor. This designation provides the homeowner with assurance and protection during the course of renovations, as well as into the future.

The Massachusetts government recognizes registered contractors and requires those contractors to contribute to the Guaranty Fund. Consumers may have access to this pool of money should problems arise during the project. You can also rest easier knowing that registered contractors are also stable, responsible and professional, as evidenced by the registration process.

Companies working in certain areas of the home improvement industry are also required to register for a Construction Supervisor's License. A contractor with a valid CSL must handle any work affecting the structural design of a building. The application process involves an exam covering the basics of Massachusetts building code. Home Improvement Contractors do not take an exam.

Certain types of contractors can bypass HIC registration, including those working exclusively in landscaping, finished flooring (unless the project involves a subfloor or floor joists), asphalt, ground level patios, interior painting, fences and aboveground swimming pools. Full-time students working on home renovations during the summer break may not need to register, but Boston homeowners should understand that hiring an unregistered contractor eliminates the opportunity and protection offered by the government program.

# 3 - How Will Your Arrange for Financing?

Budgeting for Boston home renovations may seem like an enormous task, but this important step provides a framework for the entire process. Once you have a budget, locating a source of financing becomes the next step.

Financing for home improvements can take on several forms. You may be able to finance the project yourself, using savings or extra earnings. Most homeowners use a form of credit that allows for flexible repayments and carries a reasonable interest rate.

Home equity loans provide an excellent source of credit, secured against the value of your property and set up through your local bank branch. Private loans also offer simple access and the flexibility so often required with a major home renovation.

Remember that schedules dictate when you'll need to have funds available. Certain aspects of the project need to be paid upon completion, and others require deposits, draws and partial payments, sometimes in the middle of your renovation. Make sure your financing arrangement offers that feature, and check what type of payment your contractor prefers. Some accept credit card payments, while others require a bank draft or certified check.

# 4 - How Can You Protect Your Home Improvement Investment?

Once you've arranged for financing, it's time to look at protecting those funds. Boston home improvement projects cost a substantial amount of money, and you cannot afford to leave that money vulnerable to fraud, accident or other problems.

Your first and best line of defense is to hire a reputable contractor that you trust. Maintain open and honest communication with that contractor over the course of your project, and keep track of all paperwork covering warranty, materials and scope of the renovation. Organize the paperwork for easy access.

Hiring a registered Home Improvement Contractor also provides a certain level of protection. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation set up the Guaranty Fund to compensate those losses incurred by the misconduct of a registered contractor. Homeowners need to file a claim within the stated limitations and keep all relevant paperwork, but those who have hired a registered contractor may be eligible for up to $10,000 to offset financial losses during a home improvement.

Be sure that your project contract includes all of the required terms as stated by OCABR. These terms protect your family, property and investment, as well as offering the contractor fair working conditions.

# 5 - How Will Your Current Lifestyle and Comfort be Affected During Construction?

Think about the areas of your home affected by the renovation. Will you have access to your kitchen and bathroom? Do you need to move your entertainment system or exercise equipment to create a quiet, comfortable place to relax? Will a major landscaping project limit parking spaces or outdoor activities?

Consider the costs and organization required to move out during construction, and weigh those against the hassle of staying in your home. If your family can handle the interruptions and negative aspects of living through home renovations, make sure you understand what to expect.

Ask these five important questions during the planning stages of Boston home renovations. From the scope of your project to financing, hiring and drawing up the proper contract terms, these questions help to bring concerns out in the open and aid in the planning process.

Posted by: diana
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