1960ranch's Blog

Let the renovations begin…
February 4, 2010, 1:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

After we closed on our house, the real work was just beginning.  The 203K closing process took alot of paperwork and alot of time (see my previous posts), but somehow we made it through and the house was finally ours!  Now all we had to do was fix it up.

My husband and I decided from the beginning to let contractors do all of the work.  With the 203K program you have to prove you are qualified to do the work if you are doing it yourself, which usually means being licensed.  During the closing process, we obtained quotes from 3 contractors to do different jobs on the house.  You are limited to 3 in the 203k Streamline process (and a max of $35,000). The first step after closing was getting out “first draw” to pay the contractors.  This can be up to 50% of the total amount borrowed for renovations.  We had our contractors get started while we waited for the first half of the money.  This turned out to be a problem, because it took 2-3 weeks to get the first set of checks.  The holdup was the lender processing our loan.  It took them over a week to get the loan into their system, which must be done before the first checks are sent.  We had a representative from M&T (our lender) who handled the check disbursements.  She sent us the paperwork we needed to get the first checks.  a separate form must be filled out for each check/contractor.  The form indicates the amount needed and must also be signed by the contractor.

It surprised us how different contractors can be.  Our plumber/electricians were from a well known local company that was medium sized.  Their work was good, but they weren’t very careful during demolition work.  We specifically asked them to be careful with the bathroom tiles if they had to remove any.  They broke many of the tiles and removed a lot that weren’t necessary to remove for the work the did.  They also used the dining room chairs we had stored in our basement as step stools when they were working on the plumbing.   We knew this because there were dirty shoe prints on them.  I probably wouldn’t have minded with wood chairs, but these were vinyl covered and can rip easily.  Our carpenter was MUCH better.  He was a family friend who did the work himself with a few other people.  They were careful and did excellent work.  They were also easy to work with and easy to get in contact with.  Finally, our painter/floor re finisher was the WORST.  He was a business acquaintance of my husband who had done some work at the place my husband works.  They poured paint out in our yard, filled our recycling bins with their demo waste (left it there after the work was done) emptied their shop vac into our yard and didn’t listen to any of our instructions. Their work looked okay when it was done, but aparently they didn’t do any prep work on the walls because some of the paint is already peeling.

Overall, the best advice I can give when hiring contractors is go with someone you trust, whenever possible.  But in the end, it will always be a gamble.  I suggest supervising the work as much as possible without getting in the way.  And always check up on the work daily, to catch any problems before they go too far.


5 Comments so far
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So glad I found your blog! We are embarking on a major addition and remodel of our ’65 ranch. Those contractors you describe sound worse than just bad, they are negligent. Too bad you can only get 3 bids-I just talked to a potential 8th bid today!
Maybe you should contact your local DEQ (environmental quality) office to see if anything can be done about that painter! At the very least, I’d think he would be required to clean up your yard. Scary!
Looking forward to following the blog!

Comment by amy

I just found your blog through Retro Renovation. My husband and I have a 1960s ranch, too, with knotty pine cabinets in the kitchen. What are your kitchen plans? Many of my cabinet doors are warped and on the verge of not closing. Have you noticed this in your kitchen? All the best of luck to you!

Comment by Edie

I live in the Central-PA area, too (Dillsburg), and have enoyed whatching what you did with your kitchen. My husband and I owned a property in Hummelstown at one time … seems to have had a similar kitchen. Good work!

Comment by Janet Gore

Congrats on the getting started! It’s unfortunate that the plumbers weren’t more careful with your tiles especially with how hard they are to replace. I haven’t had anything like that broken but I have had some of my breakables which I was none-to-pleased.

Comment by atomicrenovation

Too bad the plumbers werent more careful….

Comment by Washington DC Web Design

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