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How to Avoid Hiring Unreliable Contractors for Your Project?

We were inspired to write this blog with a real case, where the Client became suspicious of the quality of the work performed and the length of the time frame, so they asked us for a second opinion. Eventually we stepped in on the project and realized that kitchen cabinets weren’t even ordered, even though they were paid for 4 months ago.

This is not the first time we have helped our Clients to deal with the consequences of a contractor that failed to comply with their agreement. Here is the inside story on why this is happening and how to prevent it from happening to you.

While unreliable contractors can cause a lot of loss and serious reputation damages for the industry, in most cases there is no intent to cause trouble to the Client.  

I would group contractors at fault in 3 categories: Risk Management Failures, Technical Failures, and Financial Failures.

Risk Management Failures

This is the least dangerous out of our 3 categories. In the best interest of both Client and contractor, risks must be calculated and included in the estimate.  This helps to make sure there is a fair budget set aside for taking care of unexpected problems like: materials being out of stock, so the contractor needs to find a more expensive way to get materials and keep the schedule; availability of people or subcontractors when the contractor pushed for more expensive labor than was planned; unexpected technical issues when the contractor has to spend more time or materials to keep the promised level of quality; etc.  

The longer the project, the more trades involved, the less experience the contractor has for a specific type of job, the more risks. It is necessary to make sure that these risks are budgeted for to help make the project go smoothly, without delays or reduction in quality.

Technical Failures

This happens when the contractor signs the job with lack of knowledge about it or doesn’t spend enough resources to supervise workers. As a result, the job is done with serious mistakes at rough stages which can affect the intent of the project to the point that it is not acceptable for the Client, and can even result in more serious issues, such as failure to pass city inspection. Correction is always more expensive than to do it right initially; that’s when the contractor faces the hard decision to lose money and redo the work. Most unreliable and unlicensed contractors will start to cut corners and use cheaper labor, even if they realize the loss is too big for them, which could result in them abandoning the job.

Financial Failures

The contractor that falls into this category is most likely to attract you with the price. Some residential contractors are trying to get projects just to stay busy, planning for minimum or zero profit. The danger of this is that general contracting has high risk operations and people do make mistakes from time to time. Signing a few zero-profit projects in a row is financial mismanagement, as a company can’t function without profit. The contractor may start to cover lack of profit, damaging the cash flow, and finding themselves in the situation of “financial pyramid”- when the deposit from a new project is required to finish the current work. This is hard to identify because this can be a contractor with good reviews, a professional team, good history and job portfolio and several ongoing jobs, but if there will be no new job signed while your project is ongoing, you’ll face serious schedule problems in the end of the project and potential default of the contractor.

Now let’s talk about how to protect yourself and significantly reduce the chance of having problems during upgrading your home. The first general rule is to always hire a licensed contractor and have a written agreement with the scope of work, contract amount, and time frame for your project, as well terms for termination of the agreement.

Avoiding Risk Failures

Ask your potential contractor to show how much is allocated for unforeseen conditions in the estimate and try to talk about what risks the contractor can think of. That is how you will push your potential contractor to do a simple risk assessment, even if it’s not a standard practice for them to do so. 

Avoiding Technical Failures

This is extremely hard to spot not being a construction professional, but you can ask about warranties and protect your project by asking to follow building permits and inspections practices and regulations. Getting a city permit can put some technical limitations on you project, but the city inspector will help prevent expensive mistakes made by the contractor and make sure the job is done right.

Avoiding Financial Failures

Make sure the contract has a fair performance payment schedule and follow it. If the contractor uses subcontractors or orders custom materials, for instance kitchen cabinets, don’t be afraid to ask them to show the receipt –from transferring the deposit to start manufacturing — or other confirmation that the contractor placed the order in a timely manner. It’s not common practice to ask for the whole amount of the agreements with subs, and you don’t need it. Confirmation of transferring the deposit timely is all you need to make sure your deposit and progress payments goes toward your project, not financing another.

Maintaining the quality of work and taking care of the items described in this blog requires resources. That’s why trying to save money by hiring a less expensive contractor could lead to much bigger losses, stress, and dissatisfaction with the renovation you paid for.

We hope that this information will help you avoid mistakes and that your project will go smoothly with the quality and budget you expect.

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Newly built home with modern features and pool

Should You Renovate or Rebuild Your House?

There are so many options when it comes to renovating your home, but one of the biggest decisions is whether to renovate or rebuild. There are pros and cons to both options, and knowing those can help make your decision easier.

If you’re looking at your house and thinking it needs a little love, you might also be wondering if it would be more beneficial to fix up the existing house or just tear it down and start over. Both are valid options.

Determine Your Goals

To determine what to do with your home, you first need to establish your goals. Are you looking to sell your home soon, or stay for many years to come? Renovating can add a lot of value just by updating one or two rooms. However, rebuilding could be a better option if you’re planning to stay.

Renovate Your Existing Home

Renovating your current home can be a great way to add value, and may be less costly than rebuilding. Depending on what needs to be done, it may also be helpful to take your projects on a little at a time. For example, you could get your bathrooms updated one at a time before moving on to a kitchen remodel. This way, you’re not stuck without all of those essential rooms at once.

Renovating your home also usually takes a lot less time than rebuilding does. Plus, if you work with a general contractor, the work could get done even faster than doing it yourself.

Start Fresh and Rebuild

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work your current home needs, rebuilding may also be a good option. Does the layout not work anymore for your family? Or does the home need a lot of structural work? Your home may need more than just a facelift, and those projects can get pricey and overwhelming.

Instead of pouring more into your current home, another option may be to just tear it down and start new. This gives you a clean slate and the ability to get creative. Now, you can build a home that works for you and your family. Plus, you can rest assured knowing that your new home will not require any more work for a long time.

Get Professional Advice

Still not sure what to do with your home? Ask a general contractor! We know what to look for and what amount of work will be necessary.

Whether you choose to renovate or rebuild your current home, you will be adding value and creating a home that works for you. Know the pros and cons before making your decision. Contact ModernGeneralContractor with your renovating or rebuilding questions!

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Dream kitchen remodel

Budgeting for Your Dream Kitchen Remodel

Is it time to update your kitchen? You may be getting tired of looking at the same outdated cabinets and countertops, but you also know that new ones can get pricey. Don’t worry, we’ve got tips for budgeting for your dream kitchen remodel!

Set a Remodel Budget

It seems like common sense, but there’s a lot to think about when it comes to setting a budget for your renovation project. So, think about these questions when setting your budget:

  • How long do you plan on staying in your home?
  • Is your neighborhood more upscale, or older?
  • Will you be doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor?
  • What are the most important priorities for your project?

All of the above questions should help determine how much to spend on your project, and help you avoid over-improving.

Break Down Costs

There are quite a few things that will take up large chunks of your budget, like cabinets, appliances and labor. Other small elements like light fixtures and decorative elements can also start to add up if you’re not careful.

Breaking down the costs is where your priority wishlist comes in. Setting your priorities helps when it comes to compromising on other elements. If you’re set on certain cabinets, countertops, or brand new appliances then put those at the top of your list and work your budget around those expenses.

You will also want to set aside a good chunk of your budget for unexpected expenses and costs for eating out during the renovation process. It’s recommended to save about 20% for these, but it can sometimes end up being more or less.

Look at Financing Options

Asking yourself how you’re going to pay for this project? That’s normal. Not everyone can afford to hand over that much money for a renovation all at once. Some popular options for paying for your project include home equity loans, refinancing, or taking out a loan.

Another great option for your renovation is financing, and we are proud to offer options through Renovate America. With two different financing solutions, Renovate America could be a great option for your project. Get the dream kitchen you’ve always wanted at an affordable rate.

Start Your Dream Kitchen Remodel

Once you’ve decided to move forward with your project, it’s time for the fun part! Talk with your contractor or begin planning your remodel within that budget you set earlier. Remember that budget throughout the entire process, so that you’re not tempted to spend more than you can afford.

Budgeting for your dream kitchen remodel can be a long and stressful process, but having a better understanding before diving in can help a lot! If you’re ready to start your project or need some advice, talk to a trusted contractor.

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Outdoor Living Space Ideas

Looking for outdoor living space ideas for your backyard? Look no further, it’s right in your own backyard! A backyard oasis may be closer than you think, whether you have a small patio to work with or acres of land.

Does your vision of paradise include an outdoor kitchen? Maybe even a pergola or fire pit area? The possibilities for a unique space are endless! The great outdoors are worth spending time in, so here are some ideas for your own outdoor space.

Fun Outdoor Seating

Spruce up your outdoor living space with some fun seating, such as a swing

Of course, in order to enjoy the outdoors, you should have somewhere to sit. Spruce up your space with fun and comfortable seating, such as a porch swing. You could also try some bright colored cushions, or make a statement with an outdoor sectional. Whichever you choose, you and your guests will be comfortable and excited to spend some time together on beautiful days.

In addition to a porch swing, another great idea for fun seating is a hammock. Whether you like to read, browse social media, or just stare up at the stars on a moonlit night, a hammock is a fun place to spend that time.

Add Some Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor string lighting, also known as bistro lights

One very popular trend right now is outdoor string lights, also known as bistro lights. These fun lights add a touch of elegance to any outdoor space. They’re perfect for entertaining, or enjoying a quiet evening alone. You can also add some fun lighting with torches, lanterns and more.

Enhance The View

California, especially the Los Angeles and surrounding areas, boast some amazing views. Show off those views and even enhance them with the right outdoor decor. Try positioning furniture to face the view, rather than away. Enjoy that beautiful view by keeping it clear. A fence or other structure may block the view, but there’s other options such as glass panels or a pergola that could work instead.

When it comes to creating an outdoor living space worth spending time in, the possibilities are endless! If you’re not sure where to start, we would be happy to help with outdoor living space ideas. Give us a call today and let’s get started.

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Framing of walls and roof for new house construction

New Construction Pros and Cons

Have you been saving up for a brand new home? Looked all over and just can’t find that dream house? New construction might be the best option for you, but it’s good to know the pros and cons before diving in.

Buying a home that doesn’t exist yet can be very difficult, so don’t go into it blindly. There are pros and cons to both renovating an old house or building a brand new one. We want to share the biggest pros and cons of building a new home, and ways to make the process go much smoother.

Pros

There are quite a few pros when it comes to building your new home, and many times these will out weigh the cons. The best advice we can give you is to analyze and weigh your own pros and cons to get a better idea of what will work for you.

Customize Your Dream

Now this is the fun part! When you buy an existing home, you have a choice to keep it as-is or to invest time and money into renovating. If you choose to build new, though, you skip this decision.

Building a new home allows you to personalize everything from layout to finishes. Many people find this to be the most fun part because they can get creative and choose options that work best for their unique situation and family.

Up To Code

Another big advantage of building a new home is that everything will be up to date with current building codes. In tune with current building codes, a newly built home will also use safe and energy efficient materials. Plus, many often incorporate trending technology and smart home features.

This also means that as a new home owner, you’re less likely to deal with large scale problems like a leaky roof, or failed systems. Many contractors offer a limited warranty though, in the chance that something should happen.

Cons

As with any decision when it comes to your home, there are some cons to keep in mind. Your decisions concerning your newly built home of course will depend on which factors are most important.

Building New Takes Time

Building a house brand new can take months, sometimes even up to a year or more. There are a lot of factors that determine how long it takes, such as permits. You will need to be prepared to cover the cost of staying in your current residence or renting temporarily. The good part about this though is that once your new house is complete, you will be able to move in right away!

Hidden Costs

When buying an existing home you may be able to negotiate on the purchase price, but this typically isn’t the case when it comes to building new. There are often unexpected costs that arise along the way, such as upgrades to finishes, closing costs and more.

Weigh the New Construction Pros and Cons

Your situation is unique, and deciding which path to take is a big decision. Weighing your pros and cons will help make your decision a little easier, and help you know what’s right for you and your family.

If you’re ready to start working towards building your dream home, give us a call and we will get you a plan. We specialize in new home construction, so you can trust that you’re working with the right general contractor.

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3 Ways to Increase Home Value in 2020

We all know that it’s important to take care of your home. But, when it comes to improving the value of your home, where do you even start? The good news: a little bit goes a long way here!

Looking ahead to the coming year, there are plenty of ways to build equity on your forever home, or also get top dollar if you’re looking to sell. Here are some ways to increase the value of your home in 2020.

Start Outside

Curb appeal is very important, especially here in California! First impressions are everything when you’re looking to sell your home, but it’s also important for increasing the value of your home. You can spruce up your exterior by:

  • Adding plants and fun landscaping options
  • Create outdoor living space with a pergola, fire pit, outdoor kitchen, etc.
  • Add a pop of color with a painted front door

These are just a few ways to make your neighbors stare, but they can easily increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to buyers!

Head Inside

Add value to your home with simple changes such as updating light fixtures and paint colors

Now that you have your exterior looking top-notch, it’s time to move inside your home. Have you ever heard the saying “kitchens and bathrooms sell houses”? Well, it’s true! These are two rooms that people spend the most time in, so they should be fun and inviting.

You don’t have to tear everything out and start new in these rooms. Try starting with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, or even on cabinetry. You will be surprised how much paint impacts a room, and this also applies for any room in your home.

You can also make simple changes like switching out hardware, mirrors and wall décor, or even light fixtures. After all, it’s all about the details!

Go Big, Stay Home

There comes a time when every home owner should consider larger remodels. Not sure if it’s time, yet? Check out this article about how often a home should be remodeled.

A larger remodel is an investment of time and money, but it can dramatically increase the value of your home. In our years of experience, we can definitely say that kitchens offer the highest return on investment. You can even expect a greater increase of home value if you are remodeling a very outdated kitchen.

Other large scale remodels, such as bathrooms, flooring, additions and garage conversions will also offer dramatic increases to the value of your home. The great part of doing a large scale remodel is that it will benefit you whether you are looking to sell or plan to stay for years to come.

Increase Home Value in 2020

Now that you have 3 ways to increase home value in 2020, it’s time to get started! Don’t worry, you don’t have to tackle the large projects all by yourself. Contact a pro to start working out the details. ModernGeneralContractor can help make your dream home a reality!

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How Often Should You Renovate Your Home

People renovate their homes for many reasons. Design trends come and go, so your home may have been chic 15 years ago, but it now looks outdated. Rooms are heavily trafficked and carpets get worn, wear and tear on walls, appliances and fixtures can age a room prematurely.

So, how often do people renovate their homes? Do they do everything all at once or do they do one big project and then another one a few years later? We’ll answer all your questions and more.

What’s Your Budget?

When deciding to do a remodel, the first question is what’s your budget? If you have a $10,000 budget, then you’re not going to do every room in the home. You’ll have to pick one room and then follow up in a few years.

If you have a larger budget, then it’s possible to get everything done at once. It will be a major disruption, but if you want the remodeling to sell the home, then it might be worth it. Before deciding on what rooms you want to remodel, decide on what your budget should be. Give yourself a high and low range, so you’ve got a little wiggle room.

How Often Should You Remodel

Remodeling occurs when things are out of date or enough time has passed that wear and tear have caused the rooms to be less attractive. It also often occurs when appliances and fixtures need to be replaced and updated.

In most homes, major remodels occur every 15 years or so. It really depends on when your home was constructed and how long you’ve been living there. If the home was built 50 years ago and the last remodel was 20 years ago, you may not want to wait another 15 years for a remodel.

What Rooms Are Most Often Remodeled?

Rooms that get the most traffic and are most prone to damage over time tend to get the remodeling treatment first. The kitchen gets a lot of abuse. It’s a major hub of the home and is constantly threatened with temperature fluctuations, water damage and spills from food.

It’s filled with appliances that can break down and become outdated. We can’t forget to mention the cabinets that also get outdated as well. Kitchens are some of the most popular remodels because it’s a larger room and people spend a lot of time in it.

Bathrooms are another popular remodel because it’s prone to water damage, mold and wood rot. If you have low-quality cabinets, then the wood can warp and paneling can start coming off. There is no other room that gets as much abuse as the bathroom.

ModernGeneralContractor Can Remodel Any Room

While kitchens and bathrooms are some of the most popular remodels, ModernGeneralContractor can help you with any room and any type of remodel. We’ll help you from design to building and make sure everything comes in on budget and on time. For more information about us and what we can do, please contact us today.

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How To Prepare Your Home For Renovation

You’re tired of your kitchen. It looks like something from a 1970s sitcom and you want something new. You’ve spent years going back and forth, but you’ve finally decided enough is enough. Before the first contractor comes in, you need to be prepared.

A lot of planning happens before the first hammer swings. If you don’t, then the project can easily get carried away and you might end up with something you’re not happy with. While the homeowner can sit out most of the actual construction time, they must be involved in pre-renovation preparation.

What’s the Scope of Your Project?

While the general contractor you hire will nail down the specifics and help you with budget estimates, you need to work out exactly what you want. Do you want to renovate one room or multiple rooms? Do you want to replace everything or only certain parts?

Do you want to tackle some of the renovations on your own or let the contractor take care of everything? You need to define the work you want to be done and prioritize them. Why? Budget.

You may want to replace all the appliances and put in a new sink, but once you research or talk to the contractor, it may be too much of an impact on your budget.

You also need to determine if you want the walls painted a different color, wallpaper, etc. Planning a large-scale home renovation often takes longer than the actual construction.

Create a Preliminary Budget before Meeting with a Contractor

While the homeowner and the contractor create the final budget, you can do some research, figure out some estimates and look at your own finances to determine a range for your budget.

You may want to create a kitchen that Bobbie Flay would be envious of, but it might not be in the budget. Once you have the scope, start estimating the costs and see if the project is within your budget. If not, then you might wait a year or so until it’s more feasible.

You can also research and interview contractors and determine which one you want to handle the project. Once you’ve chosen the contractor, told him the project and given him a budget range, the can work with you to nail down a more definitive cost and timeline.

Allow for Plenty of Time

Depending on your area and the time of year, contractors can be extremely busy. You may want your project started next month, but it may not be on their timeline. The contractor needs to set up the workers, consider the subcontractors and fit everything into their schedules.

You also need to think about your own schedule. Starting major renovation work while your three kids are home from school because of summer break isn’t a good idea. Many times, contractors can work around your schedule, but the fewer distractions and hazards available the better.

There are potentially power tools and hard chemicals around that could be dangerous. It’s best to keep the house as empty as possible and that includes pets. If you can’t keep them in a room, then you might consider boarding them during the renovation.

If you want to learn more about home renovation, please contact us today.

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What Is A General Contractor?

When you want to make small changes to your home, you can probably handle those on your own. If you’re planning a major home remodel that will takes weeks, then you’ll want to hire a general contractor to oversee the project.

Many people outside of the construction industry don’t understand what a general contractor does. They’ll try and tackle major home renovations themselves and end up getting lost in the paperwork or going over budget. We’ll detail the ins and outs of general contracting so homeowners can make an informed decision.

The Conductor of a Construction Orchestra

When you’re doing a major remodel such as a kitchen, it involves many different disciplines. You’ll need plumbers for any changes to water pipes, electricians for wiring and more.

It’s a lot like an orchestra with the different instrument section. You have the horns, woodwinds, and percussion, but it’s the conductor that keeps it all running smoothly. They play the notes, but the conductor makes the music.

A general contractor handles the implementation of the renovation plan. They hire the subcontractors that come in and do the technical work and try to make sure everything comes in on budget.

Without the conductor, the orchestra instruments have no coordination. They can each play their part but there is no way for each part to work seamlessly and efficiently.

The Tasks of a General Contractor

When you hire a general contractor, you work with them to develop a plan, budget, and timeframe for the project. A major home remodel can take weeks and thousands of dollars to complete, so it’s important all aspects are planned prior to construction.

The contractor takes care of all materials and provides the labor for the project. They keep track of spending and maintain impeccable records for the homeowner. They keep the project on track and hire subcontractors for appropriate work.

The homeowner should be able to sit back and not worry about the work. They’ll get periodic updates from the general contractor and are notified of any issues or problems that come up.

Do I Need a General Contractor?

Many people oversimplify the work done by general contractors. They believe they can save money by handling it all themselves.

While there are some that can do this, the vast majority don’t have the experience, time and skills to handle a large scale job. A general contractor has people they know and trust that can work on the project. They’re vetted already.

The homeowner is trying to manage a major project, work their job, manage their home and maintain a normal life outside of the renovation. It’s difficult to handle all that and make sure the project hits the budget and timelines and make sure subcontractors get hired at the right time.

What ends up happening is the project has delays, the timeframe increases, and your budget skyrockets. You’ve lost all the money you planned on saving by not hiring a general contractor and much more.

Unless the homeowner has a background in construction, they have no way of knowing if what they did was done correctly. Don’t risk the quality of your remodel and hire a proper general contractor.

If you want to know more about general contracting or want to talk about a project, then please feel free to contact us today.

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