Condo renovations can be a significant undertaking for a condominium owner. Whether you are in the beginning process of getting a project estimated or deciding on the right design firm for your renovation, there are many red flags to be aware of before signing with a contractor and throughout the renovation process.
At Cleat Design + Build, we do everything possible to be a one-stop solution for condominium associations, property managers, HOAs, and Co-operatives. We care about your condo renovation and want to ensure you know the risks of hiring an inexperienced contractor or design team.
1. Hiring multiple contractors
Whether you are the one hiring multiple contractors or your design firm is, too many hands in the mix could lead to delays and costly mistakes. Unfortunately, a “blame game” may occur over mistakes as no contractor will want to cover the cost of fixing the issue. Another issue you may face with multiple contractors is matching schedules. Some contractors may not want to begin their portion of the project until the other contractor has completed their part. This logistical consideration can become a headache for all parties involved, not to mention the delays it may cause (which can cause the cost of your project to increase). Having one contractor or design firm in charge of your project can be beneficial when budgeting and planning your condominium renovation timeline.
2. Not checking a contractor’s insurance
Before hiring any contractor to renovate your condominium, you will want to ensure they have proper insurance and bonding capacity. Bonding capacity is the maximum amount of bonds (coverage) a contractor can provide to a company. If your contractor does not have sufficient insurance or a high enough bonding capacity, you may face massive cost issues should something occur later that should be the contractor’s responsibility. Insurance is for your protection, so be sure that any contractor you hire has it.
3. Not having a contractor on board during the design process
Having your contractor or design firm involved from the very beginning of the condo renovation can provide you with huge benefits and accuracy when pricing and scheduling the timeline. A true expert in the condo renovation space will be able to provide real-time constructability, pricing, and scheduling impacts that may influence project scope.
4. Allowing the contractor to include too many allowances
When reviewing the budget from your prospective contractor, make sure that there are not too many allowances baked into the proposal. Ideally, the proposed budget allowances will not equal more than 3% of the total contract value. Otherwise, you may risk your condo renovation exceeding your ideal price point.
5. Skipping a Feasibility Study
A feasibility study occurs when an experienced contractor surveys your building. Skipping this step in your renovation project could put you at risk for unexpected expenses and delays. The design firm you select should conduct a feasibility study before starting any construction work.
6. Not checking references
Even if you have reviewed past projects of the design firm or contractor you are thinking about working with, make sure you ask for references and call those individuals. If a contractor cannot provide you with satisfied clients willing to speak with you on their behalf, you may want to reconsider working with them as this could be a red flag on whether you will leave the project satisfied with their work.
7. Having unrealistic time frames
While time frames are important, you will want to ensure that your timeline is realistic and achievable. If you rush through parts of the process, especially the planning and pricing phase, you may risk missing things that could cause unexpected costs and delays. It is best to work with an experienced design firm to complete a realistic time frame for your condo renovation.
8. Pricing projects a la carte
It is best to bundle projects whenever possible. Bundling will lead to a savings benefit and less time under construction. If you or your contractor look for a la carte pricing for your renovation projects, you may pay more while having the complete renovation process take longer than you would like.
9. Hiring a design firm that cannot manage the entire process
When you hire a design firm that can manage the entire process, you take the weight of project management and renovation budgeting off of your hands. While you are still very involved, you do not have to be the person ensuring that your renovation is making headway. If your contractor or design firm expects you to be the person in charge, you may want to look for a more experienced firm.
Another item to confirm is that the design firm gives you one point-of-contact and a budget. You must always have a person to contact with a budget to reference to ensure your project runs smoothly.
10. Not hiring a contractor with residents in place experience
If your condo renovation occurs with residents in place, you will want to ensure your design firm or contractor has experience renovating with residents in the building. This experience can be critical to keeping your residents happy and satisfied while also moving your renovation along as an experienced team will best know how to manage the situation.
If any of these red flags hit home for you, weigh your options before deciding on a design firm for your condo renovation. At CLEAT, we are proud to offer various services that deliver beautiful condominium renovations with proven success, client satisfaction, and references for you to check.
We are a one-stop-shop for condo renovations and are capable of handling every aspect of your project. Ready to get an estimate and proposal started? Give us a call today. We can’t wait to help!