Six Things to Consider Before Starting an Improvement or Remodel Project

Maintenance, improvement or remodeling projects can be fulfilling, challenging or stressful.

All of these projects involve time, research and most importantly, spending money for quality on time work performance.

Making sure that you are prepared for any of these involves considering and anticipating who, what, when and how.

Here are six important things you can do to prepare before starting that project:

  1. Understand your role and where you fit in the respective project’s process

Are you an amateur? Where you have little or no experience. You should probably rely on qualified professionals such as a Professional Owners Representative or Consultant to provide professional help and advice for the overall project and management.

Are you desperate? When you have a Leaky roof, plumbing leaks or clogs, etc. Be careful and don’t be pressured by unscrupulous resources. If you know a resource who successfully completed a project for you in the past call him/her and if they are too busy ask them to give you a referral. If not, try to get at least two (preferably three) solutions to your problem from qualified resources.  In the case of a property damage issue such as a plumbing or roof leak contact a respective local supply store and ask them for the name of a couple good contractors.

Unscrupulous vs Scrupulous: When I had a plumbing leak under my kitchen sink one of the contractors I called said that my entire P Trap (an expensive repair cost) had to be replaced but a second contractor simply used his wrench to tighten the pipe coupling to stop the leak without charging me because the P Trap replacement was not necessary.

Are you a novice? You have some experience but it is limited. Consider using self-help services such as or a qualified Construction or Project Manager for assistance, advice or overall project management.

It is relatively easy to find resources but it can be difficult and time consuming deciding on the right resource to hire because cost should not be the only driving factor. Knowing resource credentials is important such

  • License number and expiration date (when applicable)
  • Certificate of Insurance (on larger projects naming you as additionally insured)
  • Portfolio of similar completed project to your proposed project
  • In some cases a CV or resume of the resources principal(s)
  • If your project will be bonded you need to see the resources bonding rate, capacity and work on hand.  This information is useful when comparing bids or qualifying resources. For example: The lower the bonding rate the lower the risk as determined by the bonding company and the work on hand plus your contract amount should not exceed the bonding capacity. Reference “Construction Management Made Easy

This information is instantly available for registered Service Providers.

Other Resource finding tips:

If your project is located in a Home Owners Association or Commercial Building ask the Property Manager for a referral to qualified resources they have had a successful experience with.

Most States have a Contractors Licensing Board with a list of qualified and licensed contractors. You can usually search their data bases by license number or name Planning Projects –

Internet Lead generating companies and Searches – But be careful here because too often people employ resources from these companies without knowing what service they need, some idea of costs, if a license is needed for their specific project, securing certificates of insurance with valid expiration dates, any applicable lien laws, how to pay for performance, expected and acceptable quality understanding, completion timeliness, and more depending on the scope of your project.

  1. Ask yourself these questions – Don’t enter into an agreement until you feel comfortable with this knowledge:
  • Can it be repaired?
  • Is remodeling the best or only way?
  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the best time to start my project?
  • What is the best time to complete my project?
  • Know your local licensing laws such as who must be licensed? For example: The State of Hawaii allows unlicensed work if the work is equal to or less than $1,500.
  • Know you the prevailing regulation for making advance payments to resources.  For example: The State of California limits advance payment at the time of contract signing to 10% of the total estimated job cost or $1,000, whichever amount is lower! All payments thereafter are supposed to be made for work performed or for materials delivered to the job site.
  • What kind of help do I need?
  1.  Know what you can afford– Avoid disappointment and unrealistic expectations by knowing what you will be spending before you start your project.  Here are the most common ways of figuring out how much you need to spend for your project or how much it should cost:
  2. Get firm bids from all trades, resources, materials and equipment providers before starting the work.  This involves using RFPs (Request for Proposals) and getting Bids;
  3. Estimate all trade costs, resources, materials and equipment needed before starting the project; or
  4. A combination of bids and estimates for all trade costs, resources, materials and equipment; and
  5. Determine how much contingency is enough for your project.  This is covered in the publication “Construction Management Made Easy

The better your RFP requirements the better will be your bids.’s digital RFP templates include RFP essentials and plenty of options for your specific communication and project needs. And the RFP can be linked directly with a Bid Template for fast and easy bid response.’s digital Bid templates can be created with an optional Agreement, and sent to the potential clients for negotiation and/or approval in minutes.

  1. Hire the right people for your project – It is essential to have the right builder or remodeler, but also make sure you have trustworthy support resources to help you thru the planning, costing, contracting, performance and payment processes from project inception to completion and even thru the one year inspection. allows Construction professionals, to add and share their free Service Provider profiles with commonly needed essential pre-hiring credentials.  This makes it easy for potential clients to make/expedite hiring decisions to hire the right builder, remodeler or resource.  These Service Provider profiles can be shared with your respective insurance agent, home owner association, construction lender, etc. to further expedite project approvals.

  1. Prepare yourself emotionally – Remodeling or improving a property, like any major life event, comes with emotional highs and lows. You’re not alone – many people and businesses experience this as they go through the building process for any size project. Stay positive, be guided by the contract documents, and be willing to be firm and fair.

Whether you are an Armature builder, in a desperate situation needing emergency help, novice builder, owner’s representative, professional, or student offers an array of easy to use templates and services.  And the company never refuses service for lack of funds.

If you think that you are not getting the right information and want a second opinion Contact Us. provides free advice. It is sometimes possible to preview your problem using your cell phone camera wherein we can give you instant free advice or suggestions on how to proceed with you project.

  1.    Keep everything in writing– If decisions are made orally send a confirming email of the discussion, record observations and discussions on you cell phone, write memos to the file with date and time, and demand written contracts and project documentation. has a messaging feature during the RFP and Bidding processes and also an easy fill Work Report to track work progress and important activities and events.


  1. Gary and Taemi Westernoff (2011) Construction like Sushi
  2. Gary Westernoff (1998) Construction Management Made Easy
  3. Glossary

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