10 Things to Know When Remodeling your Inn

10 Things to Know When Remodeling your Inn

1. Know what you have and know what you want:

A clearly defined objective is important when considering a remodel. Make a point to define the scope of the project entirely, and on paper. By taking this simple step, you might notice that an extra outlet or dimmer switch would go perfectly in a new area. Knowing exactly what you want goes a long way when attempting to determine the cost of the project in advance.

2. Know what it should cost in advance

Knowing what things cost, from materials to labor can save you considerable amounts of money as the project matures. Contractors are notorious for simply presenting a single figure as a “bid” or “estimate”. Without due diligence, one never knows if they are being taken advantage of when presented with an estimate. Hiring a professional estimator can help you generate an exact estimate.

3. Know who you are dealing with

This cannot be stressed enough. Before you even pick up the phone or try to contact a contractor, do a little research. There are several ways to find a good contractor. First, go to the Better Business Bureau website, (www.bbb.org) and search the company name for complaints. Don’t stop there! There are many avenues that can be used to check up on someone, from independent Google reviews to searching the name of the contractor on your local county courthouse site.

4. Getting bids

After determining what the costs should be, the next step is to call several contractors and secure bids for the project. When you receive these single page bids with vague references to the scope of work, the real work begins. The very first thing you should do is ask the contractor for a line item estimate. This sets the stage for saving money, and ensuring the contractors knows what you want as well as you do. When every little task is detailed on an estimate, there is no room for interpretation. Your vision becomes theirs, and you get the added benefit of being able to force the contractor to explain how each tasks cost was determined. Your idea of what it should cost to add a light switch may be very different than what the contractor thinks you should pay for that light switch. You can generally find several items with room for pricing negotiation.

5. Negotiating a contract

You have your bids. You have selected your contractor. Now it is time to set the terms. Make absolutely sure that every little part of your planned project in clearly spelled out in your contract. Most professional General Contractors will have their own contract ready for you to sign. Be sure to have one of your own as well. Make sure that it spells out, in detail, the entire scope of the project in no uncertain terms. As our venues cannot afford to be closed down for weeks in order to accommodate the contractors, a deadline is also a must have in your contract. One can even add penalties for not meeting deadlines into the verbiage. A contractor that balks at such penalties is not one who is willing to stand behind their projected completion date. Never agree to pay cash in advance, and never advance monies for materials. If the contractor is determined that an advance be made for materials, go with them to pick up the materials and pay for them yourself. In your contract, creating a payment schedule based on percentage of tasks completed is the best way to protect yourself. The contractor may not agree with this clause, but it will open the doors for negotiation.

6. Don’t get milked!

When possible, be sure to hire on a completed job basis, rather than hiring hourly contractors. Keep in mind, most of your businesses are seasonal, and it is the same for the contractors. Finding that job that they can work hourly for the winter is a godsend to the contractor, and a money pit for the rest of us.

7. Unexpected obstacles

On any existing structure, nine thousand times out a hundred, a contractor will approach the owner with the dreaded unexpected “This is rotten! We have to replace the whole thing”. While partially honest, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, an easy (and cost effective) solution can be found. Be ready to use your awesome intellectual powers to come up with a creative and efficient solution to any of these issues that arise. Keep in mind that it is in the contractor’s interest to make the project as lucrative as possible and simple solutions like working around the problem area may not even occur to them.

8. Change orders

You just broke rule number one! Knowing what you wanted could have saved you a bundle. However, since you just cannot live without that unplanned covered porch with a built in gazebo, you should know that the cost will change, and the deadline will definitely change.

9. Keeping the job flowing

There is a difference between being a busybody and maintaining a presence. If you are the kind of person who simply cannot resist nitpicking every task on the site, take a vacation. Nitpicking comes when the contractor announces the project is completed. Showing up once a day to see how it is going, as long as the visits are kept short, is maintaining a presence. Anything more is being a busybody. If you notice something slightly off, but it will not affect the project as a whole, simply write it down. There is a good chance the contractor will make it right before the job is done. If not, address it at the end, so that the contractor can stay on schedule.

10. Completion: How to deal with the contractors once they have announced that the job is complete

Now, it is time to present your list of nitpicking observations. Thoroughly walk the site, and point out flaws to your heart’s content. Have the contractor follow you around and create a punch list. Make it clear that all of these flaws must be remedied before you issue your final payment.

If the contractor gives you problems, have a recorder handy, and make sure they know the conversation is being recorded. Most problems suddenly disappear as the sight of a small voice recorder.


Nicholas Miller has been with Timberwolf Creek Bed & Breakfast (www.TimberwoldCreek.com) for 10 years, and has managed the inn for three years. Additionally, Nicholas operates as an independent insurance adjuster, and uses estimating software that is accepted as the gold standard of the estimating industry, whether for contractors or insurance agencies.

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