If you are thinking about renovating your kitchen, first read “Tips and Traps for Remodeling Your Kitchen” by R. Dodge Woodson. Especially if you are thinking of doing the work yourself or being your own contractor and hiring sub-contractors, this book will bring you to your senses.
Woodson, a contractor for more than 30 years, shares his expert insights into the kitchen remodeling business and all the important aspects. Placing a very high emphasis on price, the author explains the pros and cons of being your own renovation contractor or doing some of the work yourself.
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If the book has a fault, it is Woodson makes some of the work seem too easy. For example, he makes “hanging Sheetrock” appear to be a simple job. It’s not. Having been involved with many house and kitchen remodels on my properties, I’ve watched expert drywall workers; even these professionals sometimes have difficulties getting it right.
Although the book has many photos of remodeled kitchens, illustrating the topics such as floors and cabinets, it is mostly about hiring a general contractor or doing the work yourself. Woodson explains, often in painful detail revealing possible complications, what is involved in tearing out an old kitchen and replacing it with an up-to-date kitchen.
Not only does the author explain unanticipated problems that he has encountered over his 30 years of construction experience, but he emphasizes the possible pitfalls to be anticipated. If ever there was a book of required reading for kitchen remodelers, this is it because it exposes the pitfalls and how to overcome them.
Having watched many friends remodel their kitchens, I understand the possible problems. One couple I know took almost a year to complete their kitchen because the remodeling contractor they hired was a real dunce. After they fired him, they discovered other remodeling contractors didn’t want to complete their project started by another contractor.
Woodson explains how to successfully remodel your kitchen. He begins with the basics, such as roughly drawing what you want and then interviewing several remodeling contractors. He emphasizes how to compare bids, check references, and then hire a contractor. Or, you can do it yourself based on the great information in this new book.
More important, the author emphasizes how to save money. He shares his calendar of when is the best time of year to hire a remodeling contractor. Don’t tell, but the best time is November, December or January when most remodeling contractors are least busy.
In addition, Woodson explains how to get even a better price by agreeing with the contractor to make your remodel a “fill-in job” or a “reference job.” A fill-in job is highly discounted because the contractor can work on it when his other jobs are tied up with sub-contractors who are late or he has time between jobs.
A “reference job” means the contractor can refer other prospects to inspect the work in your home. The author recommends becoming a “reference job” in return for a big discount. He says you are likely to get the highest quality work and best service because the contractor will be using you as a reference.
Any homeowner considering remodeling his/her kitchen must read this book for its “insider information,” which only an experienced remodeling contractor knows. To illustrate, Woodson explains why homeowners can save by shopping for materials among suppliers to get the best discount prices. He even shares how homeowners can get the customary contractor’s 10 percent discounts.
Chapter topics include “Planning Your Job”; “Drawing Your Own Rough Plans”; “Solidifying Plans and Estimating Job Costs”; “Choosing Your Materials”; “Getting Your Best Price on Materials”; “Subcontractors”; “Selecting Contractors and Subcontractors”; “Dealing with Contractors”; “Code Considerations”; “Financing Your Project”; “Ripping Out Kitchens”; “Unexpected Conditions”; “Flooring”; “Walls and Ceilings”; “Mechanical Work”; and “Cabinets, Countertops, Fixtures, Trim and Appliances.”
This ultra-complete guidebook for kitchen remodelers cannot be recommended too highly. It won’t help you decide what kind of kitchen you want. But it will show you how to profitably deal with the contractors and sub-contractors. On my scale of one to 10, this simple book scores an off-the-chart 12.
“Tips and Traps for Remodeling Your Kitchen,” by R. Dodge Woodson (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2005, $16.95, 202 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
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