Spring is on the way. And many homeowners are making plans for renovations to their property when the warmer weather arrives. Maybe it's a new kitchen or a master bathroom. Or a bonus room over the garage or a playroom in the basement. Maybe it's a sunroom or a larger deck.
Whatever it is you decide to do, it will affect the value of your home, especially if you add square footage. PLEASE remember to let us know about your plans. Many people don't. It may impact your insurance coverage. We want you to be properly insured to protect your investment. If you haven't had a comprehensive review lately, we'd be glad to provide one to make sure you don't have either too little or too much coverage. And be sure to ask us about actual cash value versus replacement cost coverage.
Planning For Major Improvements
If you're a fan of HGTV shows like Love It or List It or Property Brothers, you already know that some renovations add more value than others. According to Dan Rochon, a real estate agent quoted by The Washington Post, "We have found that the best places to spend money are in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and out front with your curb appeal."
Most homeowners remodel their homes simply to improve quality of life and improve functionality for their family. They may decide to add on to their home to provide more space for their growing family rather than buy a larger home. They hope that their renovations will add equity to their homes if and when it comes time to sell. But not all upgrades are smart. We recommend you do some research before making final decisions. A few good resources include HGTV.com, family handyman.com and the article mentioned above in the washingtonpost.com.
When the work is finished, please call us to do a review for insurance purposes. We will need to determine either the actual cash value or replacement value for your upgraded home and adjust your policy accordingly. It is especially the case if you don't intend to sell your home but to enjoy your upgrades and improved family functionality for years to come.
Working With A Contractor
For many home improvements you most likely are going to work with a local contractor. The usual caveats apply such as: you want to get a minimum of three bids and check the contractor's references. References from their most recent customers are important. You may also want to determine if the contractor's workers are employees or subcontractors. The contractor with his own crew will have more control over the schedule which can help to avoid cost overruns. And remember, the best contractors may not be immediately available. They are busy because they ARE good and they are worth waiting for.
But also very important for your protection is to verify the contractor has a Certificate of Insurance that shows that the company has General Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Insurance in effect. The Certificate should also include the wording that you as the homeowner are named as an "additional insured" on the contractor's Liability policy for the duration of your project. We would be happy to review the Certificate for you and confirm that you are properly protected. We will also want to review your Homeowners policy to make sure it covers the construction materials after they are delivered to your address, even if they haven't been installed yet.
And finally, since you are making a major investment, you want to have a signed contract with the contractor. You will want to consult with your attorney before signing for your protection.
The new MA Hands-Free Cell Phone Law became effective on 2/23/2020. You may NOT HANDLE your cell phone while driving, not even to use your GPS. You are allowed one tap to activate the phone and then you must use the voice activated features. The fines have been increased substantially.
DID YOU KNOW?
I'm hiring a professional for the remodel. How can I compare contractor bids?
Contractor proposals can be confusing. Each contractor's bid is set up a little differently so it may be hard to compare apples to apples. PlanGrid.com has a checklist tool you can download to help you compare. The list covers such topics as Details on Pricing, Scope of Work, Quality of Proposal, Credentials, References and Certifications, and In-Person Evaluation.
Do I need special insurance while the contractor is on my property?
Ask to see the contractor's proof of Worker's Comp insurance and proof that the contractor has General Liability Insurance and maybe is even bonded. Your homeowners insurance may cover the purchased materials delivered to your site waiting to be installed. You should check your policy. Or ask us to check it for you.
Should I work with a professional designer on my remodel?
If you are going to invest $50,000 or more in your upgrade, it is advisable to work with a professional designer. He or she can offer options as to potential designs and materials that can maximize your budget and produce the best result. They can also communicate your plans and preferences to the contractor to assure you get what you expect.
Can I get a fixed price bid to minimize cost over-runs?
You can, but the bid only covers specifically what is in the contract. You need to have at least a 10% contingency fund. When you are opening up walls and tearing up flooring, you never know what you are going to find that needs attention before you can proceed. Building codes change and the contractor will have to meet current codes. NEVER sign a contract for your entire budget because of the high risk of unexpected issues.
Are there improvements I can make during the renovation that can save me on insurance?
Many companies offer discounts and credits on a number of different things. When you renovate you will have to bring a number of things up to code which should make your home less of a risk for hazards like fire. Please contact us to discuss your plans and we'll share ideas that could earn you these credits and discounts.
NOTE: It is critical that you work with properly licensed and insured contractors. We have many quality contractors of all types as clients. Just call or email our office!