3 Things to do before making home improvements
Whether you’re renovating the entire house, updating your kitchen or adding an outdoor alfresco, here are three things you may want to do before you get started.
1. Get into the details
Your project may seem quick and easy, but before you get started, make sure you’ve gone through the details:
- What’s the goal of the project? If you want to increase the resale value of the home, you may want to carefully balance the number of expensive improvements you make otherwise you may fall short recouping costs.
- Will you need a permit or a specialist to help? Even do-it-yourself often needs experts – plumbers, electricians – and many seemingly small projects need permits as well.
2. Find the right builder
One of the best ways to find a builder you can trust is to ask friends or family for recommendations, then check for customer reviews online. If you’re not sure the builder is the right one for your job, ask questions, for example:
- What kinds of projects do you specialise in?
- Do you use subcontractors, and if so, how are they chosen?
- Can you provide proof of insurance to protect you and your other workers?
- Do you have customer references?
- Can I see your “certificate of liability” to make sure your insurance limits are high enough for my project? (NB: their limit should be as high as the value of the project. If you’re building a $3 million home, the builder should have at least $3 million in liability coverage for any one occurrence.)
3. Review the building contract
Always make sure you understand and are comfortable with the building contract provided by your builder before you proceed with the project. You may even want to have a lawyer look it over, to make sure it is clear and covers what you need. For example, make sure your contract does not contain a section on “waiving your right to subrogation.” If the builder is negligent, and you had signed a waiver like this, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to recover your losses from a third party if there is a lawsuit.
Here’s some basic suggestions on what a contract should include at a minimum:
- The details of the project
- Start and end dates, including interim dates for multi-phase projects
- Information about permits, licenses and inspections, and who will be responsible for obtaining them
- Payment amounts and due dates, warranties and guarantees
Your legal representative should be able to provide you with specialised advice relating to your building contract.
Finally, before commencing any works to your home, advise your broker and/or insurance company as policy conditions may apply.