Cortlandt Contracting Corp.
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Grant Tolson

1. Do Your Homework. Have a clear picture of what you want. Look at magazines, take notes, visit model homes, talk with friends, etc. Home improvement projects often require numerous decisions such as floor type/size/color, location/type of light fixtures, outlets and switches, tile height/grout color, paint colors, style/height of trim, etc.

2. Hire an Architect. Once you know what you want, hire an architect. Plans should indicate existing conditions and proposed changes; sections, details, elevations; specifications on materials to be used, etc. The more detailed and specific the architect's plans, the fewer decisions you will have to make. In addition, this will enable the general contractor to give a more complete bid. Make sure the architect is aware of your budget.

Note: When allotting your construction budget, allow for the minor possibility of unforeseen costs resulting from defects or other conditions hidden behind walls or underneath floors, i.e. mold, rot, faulty wiring, etc. that would need to be fixed or brought up to code. The architect and contractor are not responsible for what they could not see.

3. Contact Building Department. You or your architect should confirm with the local building department or your building management that the proposed changes will be permitted and verify if a permit will be necessary. Usually you will need to submit a set of plans with the proposed changes.

4. Get Pricing. Once your plans have been finalized, you should submit them to at least two general contractors for pricing. Make sure the bids are detailed and inclusive. Ask the general contractor to meet with you to review the bid and answer any questions you may have.


Getting Started

1. Hire a General Contractor. When hiring a general contractor, it is important to make sure that they are licensed and insured. Ask a contractor for his or her license number and check with the Department of Consumer Affairs to make sure they have a clean record. Also ask for references and prepare a list of questions you want to ask before you call. Visit a project in progress or one that has recently been completed. Discuss the proposed timeline with the contractor. Although it is not necessary for the contractor to be on the job at all times, he or she should be monitoring the project on a regular basis and should be available to you by phone to address any questions or concerns.

2. Consider a Temporary Relocation. If this will be a major renovation consider moving out for at least part of the project, particularly if you have small children or pets. This can actually save money and shorten the amount of time it will take to complete the project.

Helaine and Joe Hirshfield

3. Purchase Items. In many projects, the clients will be providing a number of items to the contractor to install, i.e. light fixtures, appliances, plumbing fixtures, kitchen cabinets, tiles, etc. Make a list of all these items and begin your buying process as early as possible. These are important decisions that should not be rushed. In addition, some of these items may not be in stock and will need to be ordered. This can take weeks and in some cases even months so do your best to plan ahead.


Upon Completion

Brian Panessa

1. When the project is nearing completion, the contractor will ask you for a punchlist which is a list of outstanding items/issues that need to be addressed. At this time the contractor will also contact the building department to schedule a final inspection so that a certificate of occupancy can be obtained.

2. If you had relocated during the project, remember to call to have your phone and/or cable turned back on before you move back in.



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