How I Got My Ass Kicked Doing Rehab

New construction addition being added to old home

It seemed like a good idea at the time. We bought a historic house very cheaply. We knew it needed extensive renovations. But when it was completed, it would be a jewel.

Then we hired a contractor. And our project went to hell.

The renovations required more money than anticipated. The contractor was not skilled. And now, we are in a dispute involving lawyers and expert witnesses. It’s a big, fat mess.

I would strongly advise to not do things the way we did when rehabbing a house. Here are some ways you can avoid getting your ass kicked.

  1. Get multiple bids on a construction project.
  2. Check references on the contractors.
  3. Ask specifically what type of experience they have on the job you need completed.
  4. Be as specific as possible with the scope of the construction agreement. Everything MUST be in writing.
  5. Have your attorney review the construction contract prior to signing.
  6. Don’t let the contractor run free on your project. You (or your designee) need to check in to see what’s going on, both via phone and in person at the job site.
  7. Don’t try to manage a major construction project from a distance.
  8. Make sure you have contingency funds available.
  9. Trust your spidy sense (your intuition). If something doesn’t feel right, investigate further.
  10. Ask any questions you have about the project. Don’t be afraid of offending the contractor. It’s your house and your money!
  11. If you have to litigate, hire an attorney who is an expert at construction disputes. You do not want a business attorney or even a general litigator to represent you. You want a skilled negotiator who knows the construction industry.

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