Renovations: A Work In Progress Protecting Your Investment

Whether it's a house, co-op or condo, renovations are fraught with potential problems. Such quagmires as multiple change orders, delayed supplies or contractor errors can add substantial costs to a budget. One way to bypass problems and work within a strict design and construction budget is to plan precisely what needs to be done long before the project begins.

Planning is Paramount

Preparing a description of the work is the first step. Formulating a budget to determine whether the money initially allotted represents the total scope of the work is the next step. This "master plan" viewpoint enables an owner to see the project in its entirety, rather than the sum of various parts, e.g., design, development and construction.

Another crucial part of the process is hiring the professionals responsible for the project and knowing what to expect. In addition to referrals, trust your instincts about such rudimentary matters as whether your calls are returned promptly or how well your contractors appear to run their own businesses. When you receive a proposal in a timely fashion, it speaks volumes about how timely that contractor will run your project.

Everyone involved in a renovation project has a defined role. The architect is responsible for the design and specifications, the general contractor coordinates and oversees the construction and the owner or owner's representative is responsible for project oversight and global management of the project.

But coordinating the project as a whole, while meeting the owner's needs and staying within budget, is where problems often emerge. The architect's specifications do not necessarily include lead times or a recommended sequence for ordering materials. So before ordering anything, make sure you and your project manager or general contractor understand sequencing. If not, you may be subject to expensive change orders because of unavailable or delayed materials.

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