The idea for home remodeling usually does not come up overnight. No wonder, because renovation is messy, often costs a lot of money, and rarely goes smoothly. If you are thinking of making major changes to your home, you should prepare well.
"The first question that the builder has to ask himself is whether his request requires approval. This is usually the case when something on the outside of the house is changed by an extension or an increase, or when the statics of the property are affected."
So if you re-tile the bathroom and have a new tub installed, you usually do not need a permit. If you have the storage expanded, you may need a permit if this creates a new apartment. And if you have a dormer window or a conservatory installed, you will most likely need a permit.
"However, there are differences from federal state to federal state," says the construction expert. "That's why you should ask the building inspector." To submit a building application, however, the client usually needs an architect or engineer - "or a so-called craftsman who is authorized to issue building documents," says Eva Reinhold-Posting. The client should also clarify this question to start looking for a service provider as quickly as possible.
What does the development plan say?
Local building law also plays a role: if the development plan stipulates the direction of the ridge, for example, or that dormers are prohibited in a specific residential area, the builder must comply with them. That is why you should find out very precisely what is permitted and what is not before the contract is awarded and construction begins.
The search for the right tradesman
"If the statics of a house is affected or if it's about the heating, you're always dealing with a master craftsman," says Reinhold-Posting. It's different for tilers, for example, because a master's degree is no longer required to be a self-employed craftsman. A master craftsman stands for quality, says the construction expert. “Nevertheless, it makes sense to clarify a few things – for example, what the focus of day-to-day work is. Someone who does everything cannot be equally good at everything.”
It is also an advantage if the craftsman is from nearby because then his good reputation is particularly important to him - "and he is more readily available!". Another tip: you should dare to ask for references and also call the relevant customers. You could ask them how things went with the craftsman, whether he was on time, how he worked, whether the invoice was correct – and anything else that interests you.
Find tradespeople online
Of course, you can also search the internet for the right tradesman. However, Reinhold-Postina advises against this for large works: "To read from the evaluations what exactly was done and what the person concerned can do, you have to have some idea," she says. As a layman, it is also difficult to recognize such an order in its entirety and to describe it correctly.
Things are different if you just want to have one room wallpapered and painted. For larger measures, it is better to ask friends and neighbours for a craftsman and meet with him. If the chemistry between the two is right, the craftsman can take a look at the situation on-site and make a cost estimate. "If you weren't there, you can't make a reliable offer," says the construction expert.
Conclude a contract
If the offer fits, you conclude a contract with the service provider. That's easier said than done because the client first has to know exactly what he wants. “And he must be able to foresee the consequences: if you want to add a conservatory, for example, you may have to tear down a wall or move a door. When renovating a bathroom, the water flow can change and a new downpipe may suddenly be necessary.”
The examples show that since each order is individual, there are no sample contracts that the client simply has to fill out. “Each builder must decide for himself whether it is worth having such a contract checked by a lawyer,” says Eva Reinhold-Posting. Because that can get expensive.
Why is it always more expensive than planned?
Anyone who has ever had a craftsman in the house knows that this rarely runs without problems and is often more expensive than planned. As a customer, you quickly blame the craftsman. But Eva Reinhold-Postina says: "It's often up to the customer if something doesn't go smoothly. If he doesn't know exactly what he wants, then it becomes difficult." For example, it is often the case that customers add something to work on during the order or have changes to the original idea. You play it safe here with an architect who takes over the management of the entire project.
If you don't have an architect, the question is how the craftsman deals with the situation. He must draw the customer's attention to additional costs and time delays. So that it doesn't come to that, it makes sense to take a lot of time in the beginning and to discuss everything in detail. Reinhold-Postina also advises negotiating a fixed price with the craftsman and not billing by the hour.
In the end, there is the construction acceptance
At the very end, the builder looks at the work of the craftsman. Does she look tidy? Everything works? Before paying the bill, the builder should calmly accept the craftsman's work. If there are problems with the work, the craftsman has the right to be able to improve it. If he does not do this within a reasonable period set by the customer, he may call in another craftsman at the expense of the first.