I was chatting with a neighbor the other day and he mentioned that he is having the entry to his home renovated. I was surprised, since his home is relatively new and, I think, quite nice. He laughed and said that his house does not have “foyer appeal” and that he wants it to be ready for sale when the local real estate market rebounds. Accordingly, he is tearing up perfectly good tile in order to replace it with Travertine.
My neighbor is a real estate salesman. He has lamented that sales have been down for close to two years. Now, he says that sales are non-existent. When I reminded him of the down economy and asked why he would do renovations now, he raised an eyebrow and told me that sales are down for everyone, so good contractors can be hired much more cheaply now, as compared to even a year ago, and they can start their jobs immediately.
For example, last year my neighbor asked for bids on the work that is currently being done at his home. The best price last year was $19,000. This year, the price is $11,000. The house and the project have not changed. Only the calendar has changed, but my neighbor is saving $8,000 because of it. Moreover, my neighbor hired a local contractor who used to be booked up well in advance. In this case, he hired the contractor last Friday and the contractor started work on Monday.
If you have ever worked with a contractor, chances are good that you have experienced delayed starting times for projects and charges that are well beyond your original budget. As you may recall, I am a big fan of do it yourself projects, as I am sure that you are, as well. That said, there are times when I have hired contractors. In the current economy, however, now may be the time to start looking at contractors for big projects that you really cannot do on your own.
If you have a job, and you believe that you are likely to keep it for the next twelve months, now is the time to look at your finances and to assess whether you have any extra funds that you can spend. If you do have the money on hand, look around your house for improvements that you really need to make. Consider how long you intend to live in your home and perhaps ask a realtor to visit your home to give you an estimate of value. The realtor will also tell you what improvements you need to make and, of course, you do not need to be ready to sell your house now. You can then assess whether any of the realtor’s suggestions will improve your quality of life while you are still living in your home.
After you decide on the improvements that you want to make, invite bids from a lot of reputable contractors. Let them know that you are getting more than one bid. Always ask for firm bids in writing. If the contractor that you prefer does not have the low bid, give your preferred contractor the opportunity to match your best bid.
If you are in a stable financial position, you really can look at the down economy as a way to save money on services. If you take advantage of the discounted prices that contractors will offer these days, you can save yourself a lot and you can help to revive our economy at the same time. Consider it your patriotic duty to save money.
How are you approaching home improvements in this economy? Are you considering any major renovations? Will you be hiring any contractors? What projects would you like to complete while prices are low?