Renovation Project Estimation: Things Contractors Say

You’re starting to think about renovating your space, and like anyone who isn’t from the industry you might be wondering how to wrap your arms around the s#!^ contractors say to you during the estimation process. Here’s a brief guide on preparing yourself for your contractor conversations.

Your Project will cost <some unreasonable amount>

Money

This is always the starting point for any renovation discussion. Contractors will throw out a number just to try to anchor customers with a large figure and leave some room for negotiation. What you should do at times like this is get extremely analytical and ask them to break down the figures in detail so you understand what all goes into it. E.g. break it down by task, discuss measurements, unit rates of labor, products needed along with their costs (BOQ).

I will use the BEST quality material, don’t worry

Compromising on product quality is an area where contractors commit the most fraud. It’s an easy way for them to make more money because you aren’t monitoring them 24×7. Ask them to make a Bill of Quantities (BOQ), containing the product list and prices, for your project. This will allow you to buy products on your own if you find a large cost difference. Note that when you provide the material, wastage tends to be higher because workers care less about how much material is used (they aren’t paying for it).

I will deliver on time 100% guarantee

On Time

Contractors almost NEVER deliver on time, so you will need to do two things. First, ask them to make a written commitment on the schedule and accept a monetary penalty for each day of delay. They likely won’t be willing to do the latter but its worth a shot. Second, be prepared for a 25% extension of the timeline so delays don’t hurt you as much. Finally, try not to change the scope of work too often and let them go about their business. The more you micromanage, the more likely they are to miss the overall deadline.

I can do all kinds renovation work not just painting

Be very careful of this one. A lot of contractors who specialize in one area (e.g. painting) will try to take on complete projects to make an extra buck. They will then try to find people to do the other tasks. However, teams who have not worked together before are at risk of making more mistakes leaving you suffering. Ask the contractor about their last few projects, the kind of work they did, what went well, what went wrong, pictures from site, and references of clients.

This wasn’t in scope and will cost extra

Scope discrepancies can lead to major battles between you and your contractor. Its best if you write it all down on paper up front and make him sign it. Later on he cannot come and add on extra costs saying that something wasn’t included in the scope of the project.

Please give me money (payments every other day)

Unless agreed on before starting out your project, contractors will arbitrarily come and ask you for money – sometimes when they have a cash crunch on another project. Create a schedule and agree to milestone based payments, this will also incentivize them to achieve their milestones on time.

What goes into a Bathroom Renovation

If you’re tearing down and renovating a bathroom, you may not know what exactly it involves. All you may have seen are bathroom designs you’ve found online and shared with your contractor. Here’s a brief checklist to educate yourself.

 

Bathroom Demolition
The first step is tearing down the existing bathroom. It could be entirely internal if the walls don’t need to be moved. Specifically you may need to remove the wall tiles, floor tiles, fittings, and woodwork. Demolition always goes hand in hand with debris removal, so make sure you have someone to manage it for you (contractor or 3rd party).

Lighting & Electricals
A well-lit bathroom makes your daily experience a lot more pleasant. Given that false ceilings are becoming common practice in the bathrooms nowadays, ceiling lighting can be considered. As for the rest of the electricals make sure to provision for a water heater, at least 1-2 open points for things like an electric razor or hair dryer, a pressure pump if needed, and an AC if you feel like splurging.

Bathroom Plumbing
Plumbing is fairly typical in a bathroom. Check your water pressure before the walls are plastered up and the fixtures are installed, so that if pipe routing needs to be adjusted, or provisions for a pump need to be made it’s a LOT easier.

Waterproofing your Bathroom
It is extremely critical to get waterproofing right. We recommend that you waterproof the floor and about half the height of the walls in the bathroom for extra protection. This is done before any tiles or flooring is installed.

Bathroom Tiles
There are plenty of options out there for bathroom wall tiles. It all comes down to your choice and budget. From multiple Indian and imported wall tile brands, to unbranded ‘Gujarat’ tiles, you’ll find a lot out there. If you have storage space, buy an extra box for later (years to come). Sometimes you need to break a small section of the walls to resolve plumbing problems and matching tiles come in handy.

Flooring
You can use tiles, marble, or granite for your bathroom flooring.

False Ceiling 

It’s not uncommon nowadays to have a false ceiling in your bathroom. Keep it simple would be our suggestion. One downside of false ceiling is that if there is some kind of water seepage from the floor above, the false ceiling will need to be replaced. Regular ceilings on the other hand are cheaper to fix.

Woodwork
You may choose to get some storage constructed under your sink (vanity), or elsewhere in the bathroom if you have space. This comes in handy to store things like bathroom cleaners, towels, soaps, shampoos etc. Using waterproof board is a good idea to give your cabinets extra protection against moisture.

Counter Top
You may want to put in a granite/marble counter top around your washbasin based on the type of look you’re going for.

Doors & Windows
More and more people today are choosing UPVC doors and windows. While UPVC doors may not quite work out in the bathroom, windows are a good idea given UPVC is more resistant to moisture than wood and last longer.

Shower Enclosure

A modern bathroom today isn’t complete without a shower enclosure. It adds character and utility to your bathroom. Toughened glass is pricy, so an enclosure adds a significant expense to your bathroom renovation.

Bathroom Fittings
Last but not the least is the bathroom fixtures, which includes your washbasin, WC, and plumbing fixtures like your shower fittings, sink faucet, and WC faucet. The pricing of these vary vastly depending on the brand you choose. Some of the brands in the market include Hindware, Jaquar, Kohler, Grohe.

 

 

5 Tips to a Smoother Home Renovation

It is natural for homeowners about to embark on a remodeling project to have a lot of insecurities about the process. How will the final output turn out? Will the project stay within my budget? How long will it take before I can move into my new space? On top of that the noise and mess is extremely unpleasant and frustrating.
So here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you deal with the process that is about to unfold in your home.

Plan your Home Renovation
Have every detail of the process mapped out before starting work on site. Identify your vendors, make space for storing materials, figure out your building approvals and speak to your neighbors to let them know (including the apartment above and below).

Buy your Renovation Materials/Products
Make a list of materials required on site and divide them into 3-4 lists based on when they are required on site. For example, if you are redoing your kitchen, you’ll need your floor tiles a lot earlier than your counter stone or chimney, this will help you deal with a manageable amount of decision making, and avoid rushing through selections.

Trust your Renovation Contractor
Once you have interviewed a few contractors and are ready to hire one, ask yourself this, do you trust them? It is very important that they seem trust worthy to you otherwise the project is sure to be derailed. Once you have established a certain level of trust make it a point to allow them to manage the project in their way and resist the urge to micro manage the process.

Schedule Contractor Payments alongside Milestones
Payment schedules are key, decide the project amount and make a schedule with dates for the release of payments to vendors, it is advisable to link the payments with milestones so that the contractor is pressured to stick to a work sequence, this way you don’t have to deal with sporadic requests for money.

Create a Renovation Contract
Document all change requests, include budget increase and extra time required, and treat it like a mini contract agreement so that the bill at the end of the project doesn’t surprise you. Also allow the contractor time to plan and execution these changes.

Although this might seem like lot of planning for a seemingly simple remodeling project, it will save you a lot of inconvenience as the project progresses, and it’s totally worth the effort.