Crucial Questions To Before Starting A Remodeling Or Home Addition Project

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 by Sophie Haba

Crucial Questions To Before Starting A Remodeling Or Home Addition Project

Getting an addition added to your home or having your home remodeled is a massive decision; easily one of the biggest investments of your life. The last thing you want to have happen is a nightmare of an experience.

My team and I have put this guide together as a free service to homeowners that are in the market to have an addition put on their home or to get some remodeling work done. The last thing that a law abiding homeowner needs is to be taken advantage of by anybody, let alone on such a large investment.

Especially in the current economic climate that were experiencing, every dollar and every decision matters. Our intention with this guide is not only to help you make the best decision possible, but perhaps more importantly, to avoid making a decision which will turn out to be financially and emotionally detrimental.

1. What about the details? Things like permits, taxes, inspections, and complying with community association regulations?

It.s important to know who will be responsible for all these components that are related to your project. Our experience is that many homeowners do not realize that these things need to be considered. If you don.t think about them on the front.end, it is easy for them to become a hassle later.

Typically all necessary state and county permits will be determined, applied for, and obtained by the contractor or builder. This isn.t always the case, though, so it.s still a good idea to ask about it.

If your contractor says that they don.t do that, you may want to consider interviewing others until you find one that does.

Ask them candidly what other details are involved with the project. Ask them if there are going to be any more surprises down the road. Time spent investigating before getting started, is time very well spent.

2. Can you educate me on how my purchases may qualify for the stimulus energy savings tax credits?

Let’s face it, the energy savings tax credits are confusing. Being in the business that we are in, we understand it intimately. But the average consumer can have a somewhat frustrating time trying to navigate the intricacies of the law.

We’ll start from the top. Energy saving home improvements are encouraged and rewarded by the government.

Certain changes can qualify for tax “credits, which are distinctly different from deductions. For example if a deduction is qualified for $100 the savings would be your income tax rate. So if your rate is 28% applying your deduction of $100 would net you $28. A tax credit is far more valuable.

If you were to invest in a tankless water heater and you qualified for $700 tax credit you net $700.

3. What training have you received in saving energy and green building.?

Good contractors, the ones that consistently exceed expectations, are constantly seeking new opportunities to gain valuable training. These experiences enable us to give our clients the latest industry insights to make the best choices for their families.

With the recent proliferation of green building have come many special courses and certifications that contractors can achieve. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is one of them. If looking to really go green, it.s imperative that you interview your potential contractor correctly, asking the right questions. Here are some questions and terminology that you should be familiar with to get the greenest addition or remodel possible:

LEED: An acronym for .Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. is a rating system that reveals just how green a certain building is. It was developed by an institute called the U.S. Green Building Council, (USGBC) which is in many ways on the forefront of the green movement.

Individuals that have extensive knowledge of green building are permitted to use the LEED Accredited Professional (AP) acronym after their name, indicating that they have passed a specific exam administered by the Green Building Certification Institute. Initially LEED was focused on commercial construction, however the LEED residential side is beginning to take shape.

The National Green Building Standard, a joint project between the International Code Conference (ICC) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) was approved in 2008 and focuses on new home construction and residential remodeling.

What to look for? Green Advantage Remodeler, Green Certified Professional (NARI), and Certified Green Professional (NAHB) are the main certifications available in the remodeling industry.

For more information on laws and incentives here in Maryland, visit the Green Building Institute's website at

4. Do you have any educational opportunities before we purchase?

When it comes to investing a large amount of money, educational opportunities never hurt. It.s almost like acquiring an extremely inexpensive insurance policy, somewhat of a no.brainer.

Many contractors and builders, realizing that the average client has a lot of questions and uncertainties, take the initiative to set.up monthly training/Q&A seminars. Here at Starcom we hold one ever 3rd Saturday of the month where our experts offer a free seminar concerning the latest hot topics of remodeling. Aside from the very popular tax savings and green building topics, recent topics have included things like,

The latest in bathroom remodeling: recent developments like therapeutic shower heads, custom seats, air baths, radiant heat floor and innovative tile designs have been working together to redefine the process of bathroom remodeling. You can learn about all of these things and much more at our monthly seminars.

The latest in kitchen remodeling: like bathrooms, the rapid advancement in building technologies has prompted topics such as, the real truth about radon gas and granite, manmade quartz countertops, and .cool. kitchen sinks, just to name a few. New developments are happening so quickly that there is always plenty to talk about on a monthly basis.

The latest in home additions: Perhaps the most frequently discussed aspects of getting a home addition are, what.s green / what.s not, and energy savings tax credits, rebates, and other incentive programs. This is understandable as clearly this is a new development that is complex and has the potential for a homeowner to either

  1. save a lot of money if they do it right, or
  2. waste a lot of money if they do it wrong.

The reason that we offer these programs is because we want you to save as much money as possible and get the most out of your investment with us. For us, happy customers mean more business! This is a core business principle of ours as we believe that if we can help you achieve your goals, you can help us achieve ours. And this principle has been serving us well for over 20 years.

How about open houses? Does the company interviewing offer these? Have you ever heard of them?

It.s basically when you visit a recently completed project to see it first hand. It can be helpful to actually see a project and often it will give homeowners ideas that may completely change the direction going in. Plus, it allows you to see first.hand how the client and builder interact and the thought process that went into the projects.

5. What Industry Associations are you a member of?

Like education opportunities, joining industry associations is a way that contractors can .go the extra mile. with the intention of providing top.notch service to clients and helping them save money, earn maximum returns on investment, and be really happy with the decision they made.

Ask any contractor or builder interviewing what industry associations members of. Some of the associations that you should look for are:

  • NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry),
  • HBAM (Home Builders Association of Maryland),
  • NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association),
  • Remodelers Advantage

Being a member of these organizations, gives builders the latest, information that can often benefit clients. For instance, information on the latest on sprinkler requirements and advantages, government regulations that are pending which may not be in our clients best interests, lead, mold, asbestos abatements, etc.

6. What community presence and involvement do you have?

This is an important albeit largely overlooked question. You may be thinking right now, .What does it matter whether my construction company is active in the community?.

The answer is that it can make quite a big difference. The reason is because community involvement is a hallmark of a good, local company. Not only does it indicate very strongly that the company will be there for you if you were to need them, but it also helps in a variety of other ways, some that can even end up putting money in your pocket.

When a company donates either time or money to a specific community, they are building that community, adding valuable resources to it, and usually helping It in a direct, economical fashion. You being a member of that community, benefit directly from whatever the specific outcomes of the community outreach program are. For example, a company that helps a local elementary school is directly participating in that school.s success, and thus helping the school become a better place to learn, a better place to send your kids perhaps. And though the direct effect may not be apparent to you initially, it will have an effect on you at some point.

This is just an example. You may not have children at the elementary school age range, but even so, you could be affected by the other children in your neighborhood. Investing in elementary schools has proven a productive investment time and again for members of a community in that there is a direct decrease in crime.

The elementary school idea is just an example, but you get the point. A company that consistently and generously gives to it.s community is a company that is investing for you. investing for the well.being of your neighborhood, the continual increases in property values, and the overall environment in which you live.

Over the years we have supported the community through many such endeavors. Here are a few; Kiwanis Park, Youth Baseball, building Kiosks for the elementary school, tennis tournaments, the home for domestic violence, and breast cancer awareness. Isn.t it a good feeling when you know that your dollars are being directly reinvested into your community?

7. Home values are starting to rise again, how does that affect my purchase?

The Baltimore Sun has published several articles about the rebounding home market. The general consensus is that buyers are moving back into the market since home prices have moved to attractive levels. So what does this mean for you?

Obviously, depending on whether you plan on selling your house, the answer to that question is going to change. However, one thing that can be said for certain, is that the money that you invest in your home, can many times turn into a handsome profit. Certain improvements or additions to your home can increase the value of it substantially, and turn into a very profitable investment when/if you do decide to sell it.

Throughout the many years that we have been building in the communities throughout Maryland, we have witnessed varying real estate market conditions over the thousands of jobs that we have completed. Many of our customers that we have stayed in touch with and done several jobs for have remarked on how profitable their investment with us was. We have heard stories time and again about this, like this one from Denise Acott of Fulton, MD:

I hired Starcom Design/Build approximately 10 years ago to build an addition on my first home in Columbia. We expanded our family room and master suite.

We also did an exterior make over adding new siding windows, skylights, roofing and a stone patio. When the kids moved out we sold the house quickly for a nice profit: advertising an addition built by Starcom Design/Build. Our next home in Fulton needed some special touches, once again we hired Starcom Design/Build to do their magic.

That project won an award through the Home Builders Association Remodeling competition. Needless to say we are thrilled with our returns using Starcom Design/Build.

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