Avoid remodeling horror stories
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Question: We are about to have a major remodeling project done on our house. We have heard horror stories about the process. What can we do to protect ourselves? – Marilyn
Answer: While most contractors get the job done as planned, renovations are complex, and there’s a lot that can go wrong. You want to make sure that you start the process with a contract and plans that lay out the project in detail.
Be as specific as possible and list the materials you want to be included. Have your general contractor commit to timelines, along with penalties for missed deadlines – though delays out of the contractor’s control can and do happen. Read the fine print and understand what is expected of everyone, including you.
Check the plans before they are submitted to the city to make sure they match what you agreed to. Once work starts, make sure that you know all the subcontractors working on your project. Although your general contractor picks them, you are responsible for making sure they get paid. If they don’t, they can put a lien on your house, even if you paid the general contractor who ended up stiffing them.
Get proof that the subcontractors were paid before you make each progress payment to the general contractor. If the progress payment is being used to pay the subcontractors, write the check jointly to both your general contractor and the subs.
When work is completed, have it inspected and don’t make your final payment until all defects are resolved. It’s crucial to make sure that your general contractor gets all the proper city inspections and closes the permit so that you don’t have to worry about it years later when you sell the house.
By being detailed, paying attention and making sure the contract is followed, you significantly reduce the chances that something will go awry.
About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.