Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Home improvement headaches cost thousands

Changing your mind on a home improvement job can cost as much as an extra $10,000 on the job. The contractor is likely to cause delays and overruns also in the thousands of dollars. There's a better way to complete a home improvement without spending more than you'd planned.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Consumer Reports reveals, from a survey of more than 17,000 readers, chances are, your home improvement project won't come in under budget or on time.

For the worst jobs of the bunch, here's a look at the percentage of those surveyed who said the project went over budget, by how much, on average, and the reason for the unexpected surprises.

Room addition;
55 percent over budget by $2,000 due to plan adjustments; underestimated labor; increased cost of materials.

Basement finishing; 56 percent over budget by $1,350, due to plan adjustments, unexpected system (plumbing, wiring, etc.) upgrades, and special tools needed.

Kitchen remodel; 56 percent over budget by $1,200, due to plan adjustments; contractor underbidding; unexpected system upgrade.

Deck addition; 45 percent over budget by $700, due to plan adjustments, increase cost of materials and special tools need.

Want to avoid those time and money surprises?

Consumer Reports advises:

Spend more time than money -- Plan ahead and make sure the contractor gets the correct products, factors in delivery and debris-removal feels

Stick with a painstakingly developed plan -- Some readers changed their mind during remodeling and that cost an average of $2,000 to as much as $10,000.

Hire a realistic contractor -- Don't sign contracts with open-ended amounts for materials. Make sure the contractor gets permits based on verified building code requirements.

Check references -- Seek referrals from friends, family, co-workers and others you trust who've recently completed a home improvement on time and on or under budget. Hire only licensed contractors because you can often verify their status as a competent -- or not -- cont actor. Make sure the contractor has any required workers' compensation insurance and give the contract a once, twice or thrice over.

Do some detective work -- If you can't do it yourself, you may also need to hire a home inspector -- if only for the home improvement area in question -- to look for water-stained walls, termite sawdust and other telltale signs the job may be bigger than you think. Your contract should have a clause for unforeseen issues.

Get the full story from Consumer Reports. A subscription may be required.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop. Perkins is also a National Real Estate Examiner. All the news that really hits home from three locations -- that's location, location, location!

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