Don’t wait for spring for home projects

Stretching Your Dollar
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If you’re looking to have work done on your home, you may not want to wait.

Contractors aren’t as busy this time of year because many homeowners wait until spring to start a project, meaning that there’s no time like the present to save money. No matter the project, though, you’ll need to follow a few rules to stretch your dollar.

The experts say it starts with doing your homework.

“But do a lot of research when searching for a contractor too, ask for references. We always recommend at least four to six references,” said Mike Alarie the Owner of Jonathon Construction.

“If you’re getting a contractor, ask friends and family who they’ve used, successfully. And get three to four bids with the same ‘apple to apple’ items they plan to do, so you can compare. But remember, cheapest is not always the best—that’s why we recommend lots of those references,” Alarie said.

Indiana has plenty of good contractors, but it also has its share of bad ones. Complicating matters, there’s no test in the Hoosier State to become a contractor—people just fill out paperwork and pay fees to get a license. Just because they have a license doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re doing. That’s not how it works in other states.

“Florida is a great example. It’s a three-day test to become a contractor. And then you have to maintain a certain dollar amount of business and a certain dollar amount in the bank,” Alarie told Fox59.

So how do you know a good contractor from a bad one?

Look for a crew that cleans up after their day is finished; it’s a sign of organization. Also make sure they display their permits on the job site. Sit down with the contractor, figure out the budget and include ten percent more in case you decide for extras. Don’t forget, even with a contractor, you can “roll up” your own sleeves and “roll back” the cost of the job

“Any bathroom additions, we’ll encourage homeowners to say, if you want to save some money, here are some items you can tear out yourself. As a contractor, a lot of times we’ll do that, and sometimes some items will save them money, sometimes they won’t,” said Alarie.

Just make sure you know what you’re doing. If you mess up, you’ll have to pay a contractor to fix your own handiwork.

Brick work is best left to professionals; so is drywall, which doesn’t cost much. For a big job, it can make or break the finished look of your home if done poorly.

Painting and demolition are things most homeowners can do themselves, tearing out old bathroom and kitchen fixtures instead of having contractors do the work. That can save more than a thousand dollars. It also helps save money if you have friends or relatives who are electricians or plumbers who can help you do the work for free or at a discount.

One final, overlooked way homeowners can save money is by doing the final cleanup themselves. Contractors often pay other companies for that work—and if you can do it yourself, that’s another thing you won’t have to put in the budget for the contractor.

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