Don’t start it if you can’t finish it!
By Swizzle | Published
I heard about a house today that I had advised on over a year ago. I was asked my opinion on an addition to a tiny house that essentially would double its size. The project would tear off the roof, add a second floor and rebuild the bathrooms, the kitchen and of course, re-plumb and rewire. The clients told me that they had a budget of $40,000 to $50,000. I pondered it for a bit and I told them it just wasn't enough of a budget to finish the way they wanted. I figured they would likely need at least twice that amount to achieve what they wanted. I suggested they change their plans and go with a different more basic plan that would allow for a renovation in their budget. My advice was ignored and actually received a really aggressive response. TIP: Cold hard dollars are required when a big project gets rolling, and it is needed right till the end. This house now stands after 8 months of "work" with no siding, no drywall, no trim or fixtures, it is wrapped in Tyvek, with nothing but a roof and windows. I have seen giant full house renovations done in 3 months, but these were run by efficient operators with real acumen and a realistic understanding of budgets. No-one can live in this house in this condition, at least not in any reasonable comfort. I don't know the story but I can guess what happened - they ran out of money. I also know the Shyster who is running the project, he is the last person you want running a project on a restricted budget. Now it is winter, it is raining and it is the worst time of year to have a half finished house. Starting a project that may or may not have funding is OK for some projects if you are the homeowner and you are doing a project like painting rooms or even a small addition that won't affect the overall livability of the structure. These piece meal projects can all be completed over time as funding becomes available. Actually, this is still the way many projects are completed around the world. In West Africa a friend of my wife built a house over a decade, a piece at a time as money became available. The biggest difference is that a whole family was not taken from their house and then left with nowhere to live as their home was torn apart and messed up by a shady operator who won't take the time to really look at the numbers. My advice to contractors and homeowners alike is make sure you have the financial ability to finish your project before starting. Contractors make sure your client has the funds and the budget to finish the project. Clients make sure you get several bids and understand what the project should realistically cost (with contingencies included). Finally, don't over do it, if you can't afford a million dollar house don't try to build one . TIP: Beware the fast talking salesman who tells you we can do that, it's easy, it's cheap! TIP: If you aren't honest with yourself you are at risk of hiring a dishonest contractor.