Barbara Wohlgemuth bought a charming 854-square-foot Travis Heights bungalow in 1996, a year after she and her late partner, Kay Longcope, sold the Texas Triangle gay newspaper they published.
The house, built between 1927 and 1930, still has many of the original touches and footprint. It was kept as a rental property, along with a separate two-story garage apartment in the back.
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Tour of Remodeled Homes
When: Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 19-20
Where: 10 homes throughout Austin
Tickets: $20 in advance, online at austinnari.org or at both Breed & Co., 718 W. 29th St. and 3663 Bee Cave Road, and Treehouse, 4477 S. Lamar Blvd. $25 day of tour at each home. A portion of all ticket sales goes to support Wonders & Worries.
Information: 512-997-6274; firstname.lastname@example.org
Any remodeling project has its ups and downs and unexpected surprises. Here are some things you should consider before you start:
Interview multiple contractors. It’s not just about the price. You need to know if you can work well together. Are you on the same page? Will he listen to you?
Ask for references. Yes, you want to talk to the provided list of references, but you also might want to ask friends who have gone through the process who they used and would they use them again. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to love the finished product but hate their contractor after it’s done.
Get several bids and know what you want before you get the bids. You want to be comparing apples to apples. If one bid looks significantly lower than the rest, that’s a red flag that the contractor might not know what he is doing.
Think about resale value. If you are planning on staying in the home for a while, this might not be important, but if you think you need to move in the next five years, make sure you can recoup the cost of the remodeling. If you are not sure, consult a real estate agent before you start.
Find out who will be working on the job and if they are licensed and insured. You need to be comfortable with everyone from the main contractor to the subcontractors. Ask for proof of insurance and licensing. You do not want to pick up the tab if there is an on-the-job injury, and you also want to know that the workers are well-trained. A criminal background check also might give you peace of mind. Don’t forget to Google or use an online service where customers can provide feedback. Look for a pattern of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Get good estimates. Then add at least 10 percent for unexpected surprises, which always happen. Make sure the estimates state exactly what is included and what materials will be used. Also, if you change your mind about something, are there additional fees?
Read the contract carefully. It should outline what the job is as well as when payments are due and for how much. You do not want to pay in full before the job is done. If it is not working out, know in advance how to get out of the relationship.
Know the timeline. When will the job start? How long should it last? (Then add 10 percent to 20 percent more time.) Will there be permits needed? (Add even more time for that.) What hours and on what days will the subcontractors and contractors be there typically? Will there be times when no work will be done? Also, how many projects is the company doing at once?
Know the inconveniences. Will you be without electricity or water? Will you have access to kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms? Will workers clean up every day? Can you live in the house while the remodeling is happening or do you need to move out, and how long and by when? What needs to happen with the pets while work is being done? Make sure the company is responsible for securing the house when workers are not there.
Ask for regular updates. Find out how often you can expect to hear from the contractor. What is the best way to reach him? If you are out of the house during the remodeling, do regular spot checks to see the progress and make sure work is being done.