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The Dansville Online
  • Holmes on your home

  • With the housing market trying to rebound and more Americans retiring each year, many opt to renovate, or downsize to new homes that require work to elevate a house to “just what we’re looking for” status.

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  • With the housing market trying to rebound and more Americans retiring each year, many opt to renovate, or downsize to new homes that require work to elevate a house to “just what we’re looking for” status.  
    In order to set homeowners on the right path, we asked general contractor Mike Holmes, star of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Inspection” and author of “Holmes Inspection: The Essential Guide for Every Homeowner, Buyer and Seller,” for his top tips on the inspection and renovation processes.
    Q. Once a project begins, how can homeowners remain involved and assured that the project is running smoothly?
    It’s always good to talk to your contractor. Be involved, ask questions and communicate your concerns. And the sooner, the better. Don’t wait for a small problem to turn into a big one. Also, set up a clear contract with a payment schedule that’s tied to project milestones. This helps everyone start off on the same playing field, with the same rules. And if at any point you feel uncomfortable or see red flags – stop the project!
    Q. On the flipside, what won’t inspectors provide?
    You can’t expect a home inspector to know and see everything. For one, they can’t move things. Two, they’re not experts in every field, so they can’t tell you exactly how much a repair will cost. And three, they’re limited by outdoor conditions. This is especially important if they’re doing a thermal scan.
    Q. In determining which contractor to choose, what important questions should homeowners ask?
    Make sure the person you hire has done the kind of renovation you’re looking for. Don’t hire a deck guy to do your kitchen reno. You’ve got to do your homework. Ask for referrals and follow-up on them. Go see their work, talk to their clients. And look at work they’ve done a few years ago. Those are the jobs that tell you the real quality and durability of their work.
    Q. Does a renovation project need to be stressful for homeowners?
    No, it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t. More often than not, they are. First off, renovations inconvenience peoples’ lives. When a person doesn’t have the space to do regular, everyday stuff, it takes a toll. But add handing over your home to someone you don’t really know you can trust – that’s stressful. I can understand why some homeowners stay up at night when they’re going through a renovation. It’s tough. But that’s why you’ve got to do your homework before letting anyone touch a single brick on your house. That way you’ll know if you can trust them. And once you’re sure, you stay sure by staying involved. If you don’t understand something, ask as many questions you need to understand. A pro is happy to explain. If you’re respectful, there shouldn’t be a problem.
    Page 2 of 2 - Q. What can folks in the market to buy expect from a home inspector?
    A home inspector looks for the clues and red flags that tell the general condition of the home. And that starts the moment they arrive on the property. They should be scanning the outside of the home for signs of water damage. They should be looking at the roof, the foundation, trees and shrubbery around the home, and windows. They should also be looking for signs of past renovations, and how well they’ve been done. And when a home inspector points out problems, they should be explaining why one problem might be safely overlooked for the time being and why another cannot. They should show you the cheap fixes and the ones that will cost more to make right. And if they come across something they aren’t qualified to judge – maybe something related to the home’s structure, electrical, plumbing or HVAC system – they should advise you to bring in a licensed expert that is.
    Q. When moving forward with a renovation and selecting a contractor, what’s the No. 1 mistake that homeowners make?
    Rushing. They’re impatient to get the project done so they rush to find a contractor. What’s the rush? Are you rushing to end up on my show? Slow down. Finding the right contractor for the job takes time — usually longer than doing the job itself. If you rush, you’ll pay for it in the end. Period.

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