ANCHOR: This year, Americans are expected to spend more than $150 billion on their home improvement projects.

ANCHOR: Money and real estate expert Ilyce Glink is here with a few simple things you can do to survive yours.

Good morning

ILYCE: As home prices rise, many homeowners are opting to renovate their homes rather than move into a new home. Summer is the busiest time for home improvement projects, according to Remodeling Magazine. Here are a few ways you can survive your own home improvement project.

1.Plan ahead

ILYCE: If you’re going to spend more than $1,000 on renovating your home, you don’t want to make all of your decisions at the last moment. Start planning at least a year ahead of any major home improvement project, or more. Planning ahead will save you time, and money.

2.Obtain necessary permits

ILYCE: Many times, homeowners don’t realize they need to pull permits for even small home improvement projects. But not pulling the proper permits can stall a job in the middle. And some contractors charge extra if they have to pull the permits. Contact your local building department for information on what permits have to be pulled for which jobs.

3.Buy items in-stock

ILYCE: One of the most frustrating things for a contractor is when they’re ready to move to the next step but the materials are missing. Choose appliances, tile, and paint that are readily available or can be delivered within a few weeks. Time is money and every day your crew is sitting around doing nothing, it’ll cost you extra money.

4.Put it in writing

ILYCE: Save the handshake for your friends and put your deal with your contractor in writing. Hire a real estate attorney who does this kind of thing frequently, and make sure you get a contract that protects you. Also, if you have change orders, be sure to fax the change to your contractor, or hand him or her a copy. Keep a copy for your files, so you establish a paper trail of what was decided and when.

5.Stay on top of the money

ILYCE: Even if you hire a contractor to do a job for a specific sum of money, you should know what things cost and what the true profit on your job is. Many contractors will charge a percentage of the deal AND tack on a few bucks to the materials as the profit. You’ll pay for your job one way or another, but if you can buy your own materials, at least you know what you’re paying for.

ILYCE (on camera): Finally, be nice to your crew. Making an extra pot of coffee or providing donuts once in awhile won’t kill you, but it will help you establish a good working rapport with your crew. Then, they’ll be more inclined to help if there is a problem.


Oct. 17, 2003