By Lynn Byrne. I promised I would keep you up to date on our big renovation to our home in Montauk. Here is how I left things in August.
OK, are you holding onto your seats? Here is where we are today.
Yup, that plywood platform has my pool underneath.
So needless to say (I hope!), DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING THIS WITHOUT AN ARCHITECT. Of course you get the obvious design help, but there is even more added value. When Mr. Inspector comes around during your construction, you are protected. As long as your architect detailed everything in the plans up to code (and by using an architect, I mean a good architect) and your contract with your contractor requires him to build everything according to the architect’s plans, if anything is amiss, it is your contractor’s nickel (not yours) to fix it. How about that.
SO YOU DO HAVE A WRITTEN CONTRACT WITH YOUR CONTRACTOR, DON’T YOU? YOU MUST!
So assuming you have a contract, what types of things should be in there? The most important thing is what I just mentioned. Your contractor must be required to build/frame everything according to the architect’s plans.
Look out for language that says your project will be built according to the plans and/or according to the contractor’s discretion. Get that discretion stuff right out of there. The contractor should not have any discretion to change the plans.
OK, the next important thing you may probably have heard about already, but I am really serious about this. All changes and additions to your project must be agreed to in writing. With what I told you so far, I am sure you can see why written change orders are essential. Don’t get cavalier about this one or you will most certainly live to regret it.
Final tip of the day. As you are reviewing your contract with the contractor, check carefully how the costs for your subcontractors like plumbing and electric are worded. You want a firm number, not an “allowance.” An allowance gives you bupkiss (a very technical term). It really means nothing more than the sub’s best guess as to what his services will cost. He is free to charge what ever he feels like.
Here is an example. I recently had an electrical subcontractor try to name an allowance for his services. That just doesn’t fly. My architect’s plans include an electrical plan showing the location of all outlets and junction boxes for fixtures (all plans should have this page). Outlets and junction boxes are a commodity with a set price just like shoes and purses. You are entitled to know that price and have it in your contract, as opposed to a “guess”, so no allowances.
Ready to dive into your next big project? I will keep updating you on mine. All the raucous on my project still hasn’t chased away the deer.
Photos of the house intact, last August, by Lynn Byrne for Decor Arts Now. Photos of the demoliton by my fab architect, Paul Osmolskis.