design studio west remodeling contract tips

Drop That Drill: 7 Remodeling Contracts and Forms to Finish Before You Start

So you’ve made the decision to remodel your home, and you’re excited—just hold your horses before you start hiring contractors and hammering away.

There’s quite a bit of paperwork involved in the process of a home remodel, and we’ve listed several important ones below. The best home remodels are the ones that follow the rules (and avoid unnecessary fees and migraines later on).

Make sure you cover all of these contracts and forms before you start remodeling, and keep them in a secure place so you can access them during the remodel when necessary.

1. Your Folder of Inspiration and Remodeling Ideas

You won’t get too far if you’re not sure what you’re aiming for. Make sure you’ve taken the time to gather inspiration for your remodel, and you’ve taken the time to think about what you really want. Make sure all of these ideas are gathered either electronically (Houzz is a great place to start) or in a scrapbook.

2. Material Choices

Head to a showroom or home improvement store or warehouse and see all of the materials in person before you pick them. You may think you want granite countertops—until you see the quartz countertop. This might be the single most important step before you start a remodel. Write up a list of the materials you’d like to use and keep it in your file!

3. Detailed Blueprints and Estimated Timeline

This part can be tricky if you haven’t drawn up blueprints before. However, you don’t have to go it alone—hire a design and remodeling expert or architect to draw up plans for you. It’s even better for communication and planning if the contractor and remodeling experts are in one firm—the way we run things at Design Studio West. It makes it a lot easier to keep everything on track.

4. The Homeowner’s Association Requirements

If you’ve ever dealt with a Homeowner’s Association before, you know how stringent California requirements can be—even down to the color of your home. Make sure you know exactly what’s required of you before you decide to “mix up the shingles” or try other fun building endeavors. You’ll save yourself potential fines and redos.

5. A San Diego Building Permit

It’s not the most exciting part of your home remodeling project, but it is the most important factor—particularly if you plan on selling your house later on. If you’re outside code, you could be penalized or fined.

San Diego offers an online permit application for your convenience, but make sure you don’t start work before it’s approved! Not sure if your house is within code to start with? Call San Diego’s code compliance at (619) 236-5500. Don’t forget to get additional inspections and approval for any plumbing and electrical projects or exterior work as required.

6. Work Contracts for Contractors and Subcontractors

Before you automatically sign the contract your builder passes across the table, read it. Make sure you’re entirely covered, too.

The contractor agreement should cover a description of the project (everything from materials to products), the scope of work, permit and approval designations, a payment schedule, and start and end dates. Finally, there should be a clause indicating how both parties will proceed if there are any changes during the course of construction. This may result in extra costs that you will likely want to approve.

7. Bonds and Insurance (Subcontractors, Too)

Don’t skip this part, or you could end up footing the bill for your contractor’s broken foot! (Or whatever injury occurs.) Make sure you acquire actual proof of insurance for both contractors and subcontractors before you start work, or you could be liable. Oh—and make sure any of the workers your contractor hires are also covered.

Side note: don’t forget the lien waiver, which protects you from contractors who claim you didn’t pay them (when you most definitely did). The team at Design Studio West offers all of the above in a contract, and we ensure clients are entirely comfortable with it before they sign.