As expectations are not met, countless homeowners and contractors have quarrels and disputes when the omitted underlying costs surfaced and homeowners are charged for the omission.
Adrian Wee, founder of www.idkingacademy.my shares some brilliant ideas on what to look out for in respect of renovation choices and its costs.
The job specification – What is and what isn’t included?
It is important to homeowners to be careful of the term ‘supply and install’ such as supplying and installing tiles in a bathroom. Note that it only includes supplying and installation. However, there are some underlying messages in this term, such as:-
a. What about removal cost of existing tiles?
b. What about disposal costs after hacking away the existing tiles?
c. Who is the disposal provider?
At times, some homeowners do not consider the details as important when they execute the deal with a contractor due to the cheaper comparison price.
Materials to be used – What will they be using and is anything excluded?
Design images may be a good visual aid for homeowners. However, they are unreliable as they may not provide the same feeling as advertised. Materials produced today are made to look expensive but the quality can be deceiving as there are many imitations in the market now.
Some materials are not what they seem to be. For example, Adrian recounted a story about a homeowner who wanted to install a designer white marble top including a front body for the bar counter. However upon delivery, while the counter top is made of natural white marble, the homeowner was disappointed to find out the front body was just laminated to resemble the look of white marbles.
Different expectations and assumptions can create a tension between homeowners and contractors as when expectations are not met, disappointments will ensue.
It is good to ask designers to provide and attach elevation drawings of any renovation design as the drawings will clearly specify the materials to be used – hence reducing any misunderstanding between homeowners and contractors.
The cost – Does the quote represent the full cost including GST?
To be fair to the contractors, not everything will be written down black and white as contractors will be spending too much time preparing the quotation covering each details. It then boils down to how they are managing the client’s expectations.
Homeowners must also be realistic and set aside a budget for variation orders and other unforeseen renovation costs due to site conditions. Here are some IMPORTANT questions to pose during cost quotation:-
A) Does the quotation include an extension of brickworks including site protection during the renovation period such as plastic sheets to prevent dust from entering the living area as well as cleaning of the renovation site?
B) Will the owner be charged for the labor fees of the installation of other accessories?
C) Are transportation fees of materials to the work site included in the quotation?
Timeframe – How long will it take to complete the works?
It is important to know that you are not the only client. Hence we should be more understanding and realistic on the renovation completion timeframe by asking the contractor what are his existing projects.
Always remember to ask and do not assume that they are free from other projects and that they are only dedicated to you. There is not point forcing the contractors for a quicker completion date if they cannot commit on the stipulated time-frame.
Follow up and courtesy calls are also important if you do not desire last minute job rushes just because the contractor need to meet deadlines. Planning for buffer time will provide extra time for planning and remember do not plan everything close to the due date.
Payment terms – When will you be expected to pay?
It is vital not to pay the full amount as contractors will only take you for granted due to the job completion reward is no longer there. Should it be a company policy for you to pay full, it is advisable to buy a bank draft or perhaps a legal advisor to release the payment. It is better to be safe than sorry.
For kitchen extension or custom furniture installation, a good rule of thumb will be to keep a retention sum of between 5% – 10%. This is to ensure that the contractors will carry out any rectification works in a timely manner so as to manage both parties’ expectations and quality delivery.