Tips For Dealing With Contractors During Home Renovations

We renovated our first home rather extensively. There were multiple timelines to be met and we had never done it before. We had ‘’home renovation virgins’’ written all over our faces and if we had allowed it, people could have very easily taken advantage of us. Thankfully we had done some homework and knew signs to look out for, combine this with basic common sense and we were able to accomplish tens of thousands in renovations and live to tell the tale.


Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

This is your house after all. Though they are the experts but if they’re doing something you don’t like, or do like, speak up!They are working for YOU, not the other way around.

There were a few times when contractors offered their opinions about various things and we needed to be able to say ‘’thanks, but no thanks’’ many times. We were set on having hardwood floors in the kitchen yet our cabinet guy had more opinions to give than I’d like about the situation (he hated hardwood but wanted us to use bamboo or tile). It wasn’t until I finally reminded him that he was here to install the cabinets we bought and not the floor did his comments stop.

Shop Around and Negotiate

We redid our windows and siding with the house. There was a lot of selection and great variance in price for this job. We compared all the quotes and then looked up reviews on the various contractors, and when we finally made our decision we ended up with two different contractors, one to do windows, the other siding.

If you’ve ever done windows and siding reno, you can understand the convenience if having the same team doing both jobs so the timelines work out perfectly. Because they work in a weather permitting job, though they may have intentions of staring a certain day, if they are delayed on other jobs, chances are your home will be delayed slightly too. For this reason I really wanted to work with one team for the job.

I called one contractor we had decided to work with and simple asked if they would be willing to match the quote of the other company and not only did they meet it, they beat it by 5%. It never hurts to ask and definitely shop around. You need to have your homework done before trying to negotiate anything.

Stay on top of the project

Again, this is your house. Make sure you’re present regularly (without being overwhelming, they are there to work) and make sure things are getting done to your satisfaction. Mistakes do happen and if you’re not there often enough some are too late to fix.

I had a friend build a home where she paid extra to have the basement foundation raised to have extra-large windows installed, she didn’t see the concrete get poured and by the time she went over the structural framing had started, on her non- raised basement. They had to remove everything and come up with a compromise. Though it was technically their mistake she should have checked in. In the end, a solution was found but it wasn’t what my friend originally wanted.

Home renovations can be quite stressful; it’s your money and your home, so it is your responsibility to make sure things get executed as you want!

Have you ever dealt with home renos? How did it go?

3 Things You Can Do to Avoid a Housing Market Crash

When you’re in a tough situation, one that you cannot escape, many people feel compelled to shut down and to be angry at the situation.

The most successful people, on the other hand, know that they can learn something – even in a less-than-ideal situation. The same applies to the United States Housing Market Crash of the early 2000’s. With people losing housing left and right and the financial industry in tumult, it was difficult to focus on the things that we could learn from what was happening. But now that we are a few years away from it, we can learn several lessons from the events.

avoid housing market crash

Here are three lessons that we would be wise to learn from the Housing Market Crash.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Should Be Treated With Extra Care

If you’ve decided to go with an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, after doing your homework and deciding that it’s the best option for you (and your family), there are some important things to know about this aspect of your financial life.

For one, Adjustable-Rate Mortgages can be dangerous. When your rate changes, if you aren’t financially ready for it, you can end up in a tough situation. So look at the rate changes and plan for them. It’s not enough to hope that you will earn enough to cover the increased payments – make sure that you can.

The second thing you should know about an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage is that it should have a major impact on your emergency fund. Depending on your financial situation, and your lifestyle and healthy, the amount that you should have in your emergency fund varies. But if you have an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, that amount should increase substantially. This is because life is full of risk. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Car issues, medical bills (for you or a loved one), and unemployment could always be right around the corner.

Add on that an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage that just went through a rate change? You’ve got yourself a situation nobody ever wants to be in. So, be sure that your emergency fund can juggle emergencies and your Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, should the need arise.

Being Self-Employed Can Be Even More Financially Dangerous Than You Might Think

Deciding to strike out on your own can be scary, and it turns out that it might be even more precarious than you would imagine. Just before the Housing Market Crash, many people felt so financially secure that they decided to leave their jobs and work for themselves. Then all was well and good until the Crash.

Shortly after, many self-employed individuals found themselves in situations where a loan (whether small or large) would be helpful (if not necessary). Sadly, one of the first questions the lenders asked these would-be buyers was “where’s your proof of employment?” The end to that conversation, for many people, was a let down. They found that they could not borrow all (or any) of the amount that they wanted to borrow. And so they found themselves facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, and the need to find a new way forward.

Putting As Little Money Down as Possible Can Point to A Bad Situation

When someone has found a home that they are excited about, it’s time to sit down and do the paperwork and figure out how everything is going to work. Part of that process is figuring out how much money you will invest as a down payment. Now, it has become fashionable in real-estate (and life in general) for people to offer zero-money-down.

Though this can be attractive, it can be a trap. Zero-money-down today can mean large fees or larger costs later, because the lower your down payment, the more time you will spend paying for your home and the more you will pay in the end. If you do find the zero-money-down option attractive, it’s a good idea to consider why. If it’s because you don’t have the money to comfortably purchase the home, then it might be a good idea to look for a home with a lower price tag. Also, it might mean that it’s a good idea for you to wait a little longer, save money, and then have another look at the housing market when you’re at a better place in your financial life.

They say that those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them, and that smart people learn from their mistakes, but smarter people learn from the mistakes of others. During the Housing Market Crash, there were plenty of mistakes made. Keep the lessons about Adjustable-Rate Mortgages, how self-employment can affect your borrowing capabilities, and down payments in mind as you go into the future of real-estate, so that your next property purchase will be part of a wave of great financial decisions, not tragedy.

Our Home Buying Process

When we were searching for a home two years ago, we quickly found out that the process was nothing like the one that you see on TV when you’re watching HGTV.

You don’t see three homes and make a decision between the three.

There are many homes on the market but finding the right one is a very difficult process. Between problems with foundations and odd situations where the current owners refused to leave the home that they were trying to sell when we were looking at it, the process took a lot longer than we had expected and we had to look at dozens of houses.

We did end up in the perfect house, so this work was worth it. Here is a small, short version of a few of the houses we looked at.

The First House

This house was actually what kicked off the search for us. Our Realtor told us about this house because it hit everything on our wish list:

  • large lot 
  • two stories
  • good bones
  • great neighborhood
  • 3 bedrooms upstairs
The basement was partially finished and it had a huge workshop and a carport which could easily be closed in. The best part is that it backs onto a strata park so that nobody could build behind the house. Really, it was perfect and we fell in love right away.
The problem? It was out of our price range.
Now, our Realtor showed it to us anyway because:
a) it was a buyers market so buyers have more negotiating power, and
b) it had been on the market for 3/4 of a year and that gives the buyers even more negotiating power and
c) it wasn’t that far out of our budget.
We made an offer for $10,000 under our budget because we would need funds left over to finish the basement into a suite, and the owners counter-offered $1,000 less than their asking price.
We weren’t going to play that game and we really couldn’t come up any farther so we asked for final right of refusal on the property and walked away.

The Next House

If possible, I liked this house even better than I liked the other one. This house was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was god awful ugly on the inside (I’m talking turquoise carpet), but with a little interior decorating and minor renovations, the house had SO MUCH potential.

This house had a:
  • huge lot
  • nice neighborhood
  • quiet, no-thru street
  • 3 levels (sprawling)
  • potential for a suite
The problem? It didn’t have good bones.
The foundation was cracked and the fix would cost $26,000.
This was actually a huge point of frustration for us. We felt completely misled because when this issue was disclosed, they told us it would cost $15,000 to fix ($7,000 if the my husband did the carpentry work).
We got a quote on it (we made an offer subject to a reasonable quote) and it cost substantially more.
At that point, we had gotten a $26,000 quote, they will have had to disclose that to other future potential buyers, but the seller and the listing agent were the worst to have to deal with during this process.
The listing agent wouldn’t give us the answers to any of our questions until we made an offer.
When we did make the offer (with all of our subjects), he didn’t even present it to the owner for almost 24 hours.
When our Realtor tried to follow up, the listing agent was never available, always completely unprofessional, and she would have to phone him time and time again to get a response.
One time, we counter offered and he didn’t tell us what the owner’s response was for two days. His excuse was that he was having a dinner party when we submitted our counter (and he’s a Realtor?)
When we walked away because of the high cost of repair, it was a huge weight off of our shoulders not having to deal with these people anymore.

It All Comes in Time

We ended up finding the perfect home a few months after we saw the initial two houses. The house we ended up in is far better than the ones that we looked at and liked earlier in our house hunting process and we’re glad that, in time with patience and persistence, we found the perfect place.

The house hunting process was a bit strenuous for us, as we saw far more than the three houses, but it paid off.