Whether you’re remodelling to enhance your family’s treasured home for your own enjoyment or to increase resale value, it is bound to be a vast undertaking. To adequately prepare yourself for the project that lies ahead, consider the following common renovation problems and the best solutions to fix them.
Being Caught Off-Guard by Hidden IssuesSometimes, once the renovation project is underway, problems surface that require further attention, time and money. Be aware of the following issues that could pose extra work during your remodel process:
- Carpentry – When a floorboard is removed, other surprises often lurk, such as rotten framing or unleveled areas.
- Glazing on windows is often thin in older homes and can break easily.
- Asbestos poses a safety threat and can be found in roofing and sprayed ceilings.
- Plumbing – Corrosion of water pipes might require plumbing replacements or, perhaps, disconnected pipes empty into the subfloor.
- Unstable brick chimneys should be replaced during a renovation.
- Insulation should be added to ceilings or walls if it’s lacking or nonexistent.
- Framing or floor problems might surface and need to be fixed.
- Wiring – It’s common to discover that wiring needs to be replaced during a remodel. Err on the side of safety and replace wiring if there’s any question.
- Deficient bracing in the sub-floor should be addressed if discovered.
Not Keeping Period DetailsOne of the biggest mistakes made during a renovation is removing period details, such as original windows, exterior doors, floorboards and fireplaces. These details are often irreplaceable; removal of them can be detrimental to the character of the property. Always opt for repair when possible. Conserving the original elements of your home or property is wise because replicas are expensive. Cheap replacements will often cause further problems or produce a fragmented look.
Using the Wrong MaterialsModern materials like plastics, impermeable coatings and hard cement mortar mixes can create problems in houses constructed of traditional materials. The damp can lead to a damaged structure. Consider the following tips for choosing the right materials:
- When re-pointing, do not replace soft lime mortars with hard cement mixes.
- Solid-walled buildings do not call for waterproof paint or sealant.
- Opt for a malleable lime-rich mix for traditional solid-walled buildings.
- For gypsum plaster on the inside of external walls, don’t use hard cement backing.
Not Choosing Energy Efficiency Updates PracticallyWhile it’s wise to include energy-saving features in a renovation, be sure to consider the length of time it will take to reap the benefits of the payback. For example, if you don’t plan to own the property in 20 years, do not opt for double glazing. The following energy-saving methods come with the shortest paybacks:
- Energy-efficient light features
- Condensing boilers
- Cavity wall insulation
- Pipe insulation
- Hot water tank insulation
- Draft exclusion
Not Hiring the Right Builders or SubcontractorsDoing your homework before the renovation process begins can prevent this issue from arising. When you are interviewing contractors, consider asking the following questions:
- Are you confident in your ability to do the job well?
- Do you understand what I am trying to achieve?
- Have you done similar work before?
- May I contact your past clients as references?
- Are you bonded?
- Communicate your concerns. It is important to communicate any concerns or issues as they arise; do not let issues build-up, including delays. If things have fallen behind schedule due to a contractor’s carelessness, record your concerns in writing, and ask for a new completion date. If this doesn’t work, you may have to terminate the contract, pay for the work you received and start over.
- Seek reimbursement from a contractor’s bond. If a contractor is bonded, it serves as a guarantee that the contractor will perform the services outlined in the contract. If the contractor fails to meet the agreement, you may report the problem to the issuing agent and seek compensation.
- Take legal action. If your state has a residential contractor’s board, file a complaint. Other options include small claims court or hiring a private attorney. Learn more about submitting a complaint in Alberta.