Archives for Renovations

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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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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Creating the 21st Century Los Angeles Smart Home

We live in an era where everything in your home can be controlled by voice or app. It’s called the Internet of things and if you’re a tech-savvy homeowner, then transform your analog residence into a technological wonder with ModernGeneralContractor.

The modern smart home goes far beyond Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers placed around the house. It can be a complete system from lighting to door locks that lets you run everything from your smartphone or digital assistant.

If you’re thinking of remodeling your Los Angeles home, then why not deck it out with the latest technology.

Choose Your Preferred Digital Assistant

When it comes to a personal digital assistant, the main three are Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Microsoft’s Siri. While many products use multiple assistants, many do not. You’ll want to choose your preferred digital assistant based on your preferences and the brands you want to work with.

The last thing you want is using multiple assistants in your home. Why? It could be utter confusion trying to run the different smart devices. You don’t want to have your lights in your bedroom run by Alexa and the lights in the living room run by Google.

Smart Homes Add Safety and Security

There was a time if you went on vacation; the only way to fool thieves into thinking you’re home is through light timers. If you’ve seen “Home Alone,” you know this doesn’t work out so well.

With smart lights, you can turn them on anytime from wherever you are. If you’re on your way home from dinner, then turn them on when you’re a few blocks away for safety. If you’re in the Bahamas sitting on a beach, you can turn them on and off at random times and truly fool burglars.

Smart locks allow you to control who goes in and out of your house without the use of a key. If you have someone coming over to check on your home while on vacation, you can give them a one-time passcode to get in.

Many systems have cameras attached as well, so you can see who comes to your door before letting them inside. It’s unparalleled protection and security for your home.

The Internet of Things Adds Convenience

Thanks to wireless Internet there is almost nothing your smartphone or digital assistant can’t control. Smart plugs allow for even analog devices to be controlled. Do you have a large wall of electric blinds? Don’t bother getting up to push the button because it can be controlled from your phone or you can say, “Alexa, open blinds.”

There are even appliances such as ovens, refrigerators and crock pots controlled via app and assistant. You’ve seen science fiction movies where people walk into their home and just tell the house what to do. That can be you.

Digital thermostats let you control your home’s heating and cooling to such a degree that it can save you money on utility bills. It’s a win-win situation.

Smart Home Will Be The Norm

If you have new construction or are thinking of a home remodel in Los Angeles, then consider creating a smart home from scratch. We can work with you to make sure the wiring can handle the equipment and your home has the latest technology.

Modern General Contracting is your one-stop-shop for residential remodeling and construction. We’ll handle the renovations and hiring sub-contractors so you can keep living your life. For more information, please feel free to 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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