real estate

Driil & hammer

03.06.2010 | Text: Oleksandra Kuznetsova Weekly.ua

How to choose the right construction crew and save on renovations

Renovation and construction services today are 15% cheaper than last year. In addition to that, if to properly organize your renovations, you can save an extra 30% of the total estimate. Let us tell you how to achieve this without detriment to the level of quality

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Consulting a designer

First and foremost, you must decide what interior design you want. Recall that all possible novelties on the market and modern-day technologies in renovations are more often confusing than helpful in understanding a particular subject. This is precisely why one should prepare for renovations by consulting a designer first.

Today, many designers in Kyiv offer consultation free-of-charge. As a rule, this is enough for a person to more or less understand what exactly they want to see after renovation.

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Looking for a foreman

One is well advised to find a professional foreman that can oversee the whole renovation job from painting to plastering. Otherwise, you wont be able to hold anyone responsible for doing a shabby job. A foreman of a crew is responsible for the full job and is likely to propose his own crew of workers.

Ideally, you should hire a specialist upon the recommendation of a friend and always be able to evaluate the qualifications of a foreman and the work of his crew. If none of your friends have done reno for a long time, you are better off finding a crew through advertisements in the local press. But you are well advised to not make any decision after you review a portfolio in which photos from the Internet may end up, but instead visit real, not virtual places. If a foreman is serious, he can have a number of crews working under him. Nevertheless, one should always check out and assess the quality of work of any construction crew.

Haggling

One must absolutely demand that a foreman put together a cost estimate. An approximate cost estimate is usually drawn up free-of-charge. A detail cost estimate factoring in all the issues costs UAH 500 and up. This is totally a must as a person that is unaware of all the details of renovation cannot even fathom what he must deal with. Indeed, artful dodgers in construction like to invent new terminology (for example, the mysterious term electrification could simply mean replacing burnt out light bulbs) and overstate the square area of an apartment.

Once a cost estimate is drawn up you can start bargaining. After all, this could bring down the total sum of the cost estimate by 5-7%. Moreover, as a rule if the amount of work for a particular job is sizeable construction and renovation companies and crews are ready to meet clients half way and even offer payment in instalments over half a year.

Saving on foremans discount

Naturally, placing the full burden of work from the purchase of materials to defining the forms of construction works is very enticing, but one must keep in mind that this is how builders make their money. The best thing to do is to buy all the necessary materials together with the foreman of the crew. Such a prudence will save you around 10-15% on the cost of construction materials. The fact is that all self-respecting foremen have discount cards and/or an agreement with building supply stores. If a customer is not present, store employees issue the foremen they know receipts indicating marked up prices. Foremen pocket the difference between the actual price and the price in the receipt.

Buying construction materials

DIY (do-it-yourself) construction stores are convenient when you need to buy small household accessories such as tools, nails, screws, etc. But as for large purchases of cement, sand and dry construction mixtures, you are better off buying it from a wholesaler of construction materials. The difference between prices in a retail store and a wholesaler can be as high as 15%. One should also pay attention to sales in construction stores where you can buy overstocked goods for three times cheaper.

Keeping eye on the work progress

Builders like to impose extra work on customers. For example, gypsum board can almost always be replaced by plaster and filling and prepping a floor for standard laminate flooring should not be as scrupulous as that for a parquet floor. If a floor is laid with a cement-sand mixture from scratch, then you dont need an expensive smoothing mixture (or a leveling mass). Incidentally, the latter ups the cost of renovation by UAH 100 per square meter of floor space. In other words, you can save UAH 5,0007,000 if you decide not to do this extra work. And there are dozens of similar nuances, so try to keep a watchful eye on the work of the crew and control the foreman.

Choosing Ukrainian materials

The notion that imported construction materials are better than domestic materials is in essence not true. If you consult with a specialist he will tell you how you can save on construction materials. Experts advise that the main way to do so is to pay attention to the content of such materials. For example, certain Turkish dry construction admixtures contain asbestos, which is toxic. Besides that, many fakes of well-known brand name products were made available for sale on store shelves.

Of course, differentiating many types and forms of paints, mixtures and other construction materials is extremely difficult. This is another reason why the assistance of an experienced consultant in this sector will come in very handy.

COMMENTARY

Ivan Rudenko

Director of Prof.ua Renovation and Construction

The cases of fraud in the business are becoming increasingly frequent. Unprincipled construction foremen take money from customers to buy construction materials and disappear into the thin air or customers refuse to pay for already work completed. Fines for low-quality work have also become commonplace and customers set the level of the fine at their own discretion. Signing of a bilateral agreement in which prices, advances, terms and fines are indicated will allow for avoiding such incidents. I know only one case when a renovation and construction company managed to collect unpaid compensation through the courts. But based on experience I can say that an official document disciplines both the customer and the sub-contractor.

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