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      01-21-2022, 10:56 PM   #1
dreamingat30fps
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Home Remodel Advice

So my mother has been wanting to remodel her apartment and another house she has as a rental property. Sheís been saying sheís getting quotes etc now for probably a year or more. At this point me and my sister think we need to step in and handle this for her.

Now I donít know anything about home remodeling as I have never had any remodeling done. Also both home are in Miami which is full of the shadiest scammiest scumbags you can imagine. And of course she doesnít have a bunch of money to throw at this to just go hire some high end top of the line place.

Iím thinking it would be cheaper and easier to find people to do the various jobs vs finding a general contractor or someone who would handle the whole thing from start to finish. All the contractors I have spoken with I wouldnít trust to water my cactus. I think I would have better luck finding tile people, etc and doing some of the stuff myself (with help from family) like removing the old kitchen etc.

The apartment is a small studio apartment, but itís a big ol cement box. Iím sure there will be issues when dealing with the HOA also. I think all that needs to be done there is floors, kitchen and bathroom and they are all very small.

The house is small about 1,500 sqft but itís in very bad shape, needs a new roof, all the drywall on the ceiling has to be redone due to water damage from said roof. Bathroom and kitchen have to be demoed and redone, floors need to be redone and thatís just what I can see.

So I guess just looking for tips or recommendations in general on the best way to tackle this while trying to keep the budget down. She is not looking for marble floors and wifi appliances or anything fancy like that. Just something that decent and not 80 years old. Also if any of you know good people to do some of the work in Miami or Miami Beach area that would be great also.
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      01-22-2022, 11:52 AM   #2
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I guess my first question is why is she remodeling an apartment? Do you mean a condo? If it's an apartment, someone else owns it and shes only paying rent. Why remodel someone else's property for them? So I'll assume you mean it's a condo and she owns it.

First piece of advice is do one property at a time. Dont try to do the condo and the house at the same time. The condo sounds like the smaller of the two jobs so start there. if you are happy with the work that is done at the condo you can use the same guys for the house. If you are not happy, it was the smaller, less expensive mistake.

Second piece of advice is to step in and help your mom. I've seen too many seniors taken advantage of and completely ripped off by scumbags.

Next piece of advice, find a general contractor that you trust. It may take time but the search is worth it. it provides you with a single point person to manage all the different sub contrators, the schedule, the budget, and any permitting that's required. You've said already that your home remodeling knowledge is basically non existent so I just dont see you having the ability to find, vet, hire, and manage a tile crew, a framing crew, a drywall crew, an electrician, a roofing crew, plumber, etc. If you're having concerns about finding a single reputable GC, how are you going to fine a half dozen different trades and coordinate them?

Next piece, and many people dont realize this, but the best sub contractors are tied in with GCs already. They arent sitting around waiting for a guy like you to ring them up for a small job. You'll find the good ones are too booked up to talk to you and you'll be left with the sketchy ones who work out of a broke ass van and need 100% payment up front. The way you get access to the best subs is through a good GC.

Last piece: To find a good GC you need to do your research. Online reviews can be helpful. Or, cruise the neighborhood looking for houses being remodeled or built. Talk to the owners. Ask for referrals. Sites like Angie's List can be helpful. When you start talking to GCs, treat it like a job interview because that's exactly what it is. Have a list of questions for them that you come prepared with. How long have then been in business, how long have they been working with each of their subs, how deep is their bench of subs (do they have 1 drywall guy they use or 5), do they pull permits for their work (if they try to talk you out of permits, run), how do they pay their subs, etc. Ask for references. Both former clients who are happy with the work that was done and current subs who are happy that the GC takes good care of them and pays them on time. Finally, ask to tour a few active job sites.
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      01-22-2022, 12:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by DETRoadster View Post
I guess my first question is why is she remodeling an apartment? Do you mean a condo? If it's an apartment, someone else owns it and shes only paying rent. Why remodel someone else's property for them? So I'll assume you mean it's a condo and she owns it.

First piece of advice is do one property at a time. Dont try to do the condo and the house at the same time. The condo sounds like the smaller of the two jobs so start there. if you are happy with the work that is done at the condo you can use the same guys for the house. If you are not happy, it was the smaller, less expensive mistake.

Second piece of advice is to step in and help your mom. I've seen too many seniors taken advantage of and completely ripped off by scumbags.

Next piece of advice, find a general contractor that you trust. It may take time but the search is worth it. it provides you with a single point person to manage all the different sub contrators, the schedule, the budget, and any permitting that's required. You've said already that your home remodeling knowledge is basically non existent so I just dont see you having the ability to find, vet, hire, and manage a tile crew, a framing crew, a drywall crew, an electrician, a roofing crew, plumber, etc. If you're having concerns about finding a single reputable GC, how are you going to fine a half dozen different trades and coordinate them?

Next piece, and many people dont realize this, but the best sub contractors are tied in with GCs already. They arent sitting around waiting for a guy like you to ring them up for a small job. You'll find the good ones are too booked up to talk to you and you'll be left with the sketchy ones who work out of a broke ass van and need 100% payment up front. The way you get access to the best subs is through a good GC.

Last piece: To find a good GC you need to do your research. Online reviews can be helpful. Or, cruise the neighborhood looking for houses being remodeled or built. Talk to the owners. Ask for referrals. Sites like Angie's List can be helpful. When you start talking to GCs, treat it like a job interview because that's exactly what it is. Have a list of questions for them that you come prepared with. How long have then been in business, how long have they been working with each of their subs, how deep is their bench of subs (do they have 1 drywall guy they use or 5), do they pull permits for their work (if they try to talk you out of permits, run), how do they pay their subs, etc. Ask for references. Both former clients who are happy with the work that was done and current subs who are happy that the GC takes good care of them and pays them on time. Finally, ask to tour a few active job sites.
Yes itís a condo my bad. I thought hiring a GC would have been the better way at first, but it seems finding a good one is hard. If I search for a tile company for example I will get a million results, some have bad reviews some have good reviews but lots of options. When I look for GC I get squat. First place I tried was Angieslist and the 3 results they showed 2 had like 2-3 reviews, when I looked up the companies they were started like last week and the one company with a decent amount of reviews stated up front they did not work on condos or small jobs.

However I will keep looking we are just getting started with this. She wants to do things on her own but like you said too many scammers out there. I mean shit I got scammed on replacing my fence for $1,500. Took me a year but I did eventually got that pos to return my $$ after the cops showed up at his house.

Florida is notoriously bad for shady fucks but IMO Miami is the worst of all.
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      01-22-2022, 12:07 PM   #4
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Go to your local Lowe's or whatever big box stores in Miami. They should have a good idea of who is reputable. Up here in Canada Lowe's acts as a facilitator for installations/reno's. They recommend all different trades.

Good luck.
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      01-22-2022, 12:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamingat30fps View Post
I’m thinking it would be cheaper and easier to find people to do the various jobs vs finding a general contractor
This times 100,000,000,000. Be your own GC. I do have experience remodeling my home, I did a lot of the work myself and hired out a few things. When I built my pool I ended up acting as my own GC because the GC the pool company used vanished. I was also in FL at the time (Tampa Bay), so I can appreciate your sentiments regarding contractors and getting what you pay for.
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      01-22-2022, 01:07 PM   #6
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I might be able to help. My friend does flooring but is totally handy and help me renovate my place in NJ. He lives in West Palm and was not very busy last I checked.
I can ask if you like. Biggest downside is he’s slow, so if you need it in a timely manner let’s forget I mentioned it
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      01-22-2022, 11:10 PM   #7
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Finding a good GC is very difficult IMO, but so is finding a good plumber, electrician, carpenter, floor guy, drywall guy, etc. Few seem to care about getting your business, which is doubly true when they are super busy. Then many who do care seem over eager and shady.

Doing the GC role yourself saves the 15%+ markup GCs charge for all the subs and gets you direct contact with the guys doing the actual work, many of whom can also deal with permits and can make references to other trades. It does take time and dealing with BS, but so does calling the GC to tell them the sub isn’t there or isn’t working out or worse if the GC sucks. I see the theoretical value of a GC, particularly for a big job, but every time I started going down that path for smaller remodel type projects, the cost comparison didn’t work for me. Plus now I have a relationship with a great carpenter, plumber, electrician, tile guy, wood floor guy, etc. and learned some things as I dealt with them and others. But I have also had bad experiences with different electricians and plumbers, etc. before finding the ones I like. If you know other people who have done remodels, they are the best place to start to find people.

The other thing I’ll say is whether you use a GC or DIY GC, you need a detailed and realistic schedule and budget for the project. Realistically nothing goes 100% according to plan, but the better job you do planning the better chance you have of avoiding huge cost overruns or the project going completely off the rails.

Right now is a tough time for projects. Labor is tight and material costs are high. Unless something really needs to get done ASAP, I’d be inclined to hold off 6-12 months to see if conditions improve.
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      01-22-2022, 11:35 PM   #8
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so if your going to act as your own general contractor I wouldn't start doing a multi-faceted renovation. What I'm saying is if your doing kitchen, bath, windows, lighting, etcetera at one time on your first renovation it is a recipe for disaster if you have no construction experience.
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      Yesterday, 12:23 AM   #9
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If you know anyone in real estate, they may be able to put you in contact with subs for the specific tasks. Realtors usually have a nice list of subs that they use for work before listing.

Our architect also knew of some good subs for our remodel.
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      Yesterday, 06:51 AM   #10
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First, I’d never step in on my mom’s projects/plans unless she asked. At 90 she is still lucid and fiercely independent. It would insult her if I did.

That said, I have a friend who bought and renovated a condo in the Marina towers in Chicago. All the barriers you mention (he didn’t live near Chicago, uses it as a crash pad). He talked to other owners who were or just had remodeled, got their contractors/subs and hired as needed. Those folks knew the ins and outs of the building (structure, HOA, palms to grease, etc). Cost him a few 100s to get the doorman and others to look away occasionally, but got the job done pretty quickly and very well. If you can’t do it yourself, look for people with experience and good references in her building.
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      Yesterday, 09:18 AM   #11
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If you don’t hire a GC then you are the GC. Based on your experience and skills, are you really ready to take on that job?

For example - When the only day the tile guy can show up is Wednesday, but the store is out of the underlayment you need, and the guy fixing the sub-floor calls in sick on Monday, you have to figure out how to reschedule it all. Multiply that stress by about 20 and you have an estimate of your job as GC. It gets even worse if you need it fixed quickly because your grandmother moved to temporary quarters to get out of the way, and she wants to move back.

Many sub-contractors you hire are good at their job (lay tile, install drywall, carpentry, etc.), but most of them really suck at time/cost estimation and scheduling. When previous jobs run overtime, materials cost more, or jobs are more complicated, they often have not included any “slack” in their work schedule, so you need to have your own plan for overall project slack.
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      Yesterday, 03:12 PM   #12
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Well my mom at some point broke down and told my sister she couldn’t handle it so that’s why we are taking over.

I’m thinking I will be mostly handling big picture stuff as far as figuring out what exactly needs to be done, what we can do ourselves and what we can’t, costs etc. Probably help finding and talking to some of the people doing the bigger jobs, setting up estimates figuring out who’s best. Since my mom and my sister live in Miami (I live an hour away) they would be more the boots on the ground day to day calling people when they don’t show etc. I know my sister would definitely smack some people around when they get out of line.

My sister in law does work in real estate and recommended some people for some of the jobs but she has no connections with any GC just individual laborers. My mom would be staying in her condo while the house is being done and vice versa so it would not be a huge problem if it takes longer than expected (not that we want that but it’s not the end of the world and no one will be homeless).

I’m also thinking hiring laborers you somewhat mitigate your risk vs a GC. If you pick a bad GC you’re whole project might be fucked vs getting a bad drywall guy just means that one part might be fucked, but I guess the reverse is true also. Dunno.
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      Yesterday, 04:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamingat30fps View Post
Well my mom at some point broke down and told my sister she couldnít handle it so thatís why we are taking over.

Iím thinking I will be mostly handling big picture stuff as far as figuring out what exactly needs to be done, what we can do ourselves and what we canít, costs etc. Probably help finding and talking to some of the people doing the bigger jobs, setting up estimates figuring out whoís best. Since my mom and my sister live in Miami (I live an hour away) they would be more the boots on the ground day to day calling people when they donít show etc. I know my sister would definitely smack some people around when they get out of line.

My sister in law does work in real estate and recommended some people for some of the jobs but she has no connections with any GC just individual laborers. My mom would be staying in her condo while the house is being done and vice versa so it would not be a huge problem if it takes longer than expected (not that we want that but itís not the end of the world and no one will be homeless).

Iím also thinking hiring laborers you somewhat mitigate your risk vs a GC. If you pick a bad GC youíre whole project might be fucked vs getting a bad drywall guy just means that one part might be fucked, but I guess the reverse is true also. Dunno.
Drywall usually isn't an issue. Finding plumbing mistakes, sloppy electricians, busy contractors. Knowing what to look for and when to demand something be corrected takes some experience.
Better to do one thing like a bathroom and live with for awhile and find the issues than to a complete unit and then find issues throughout the entire job.
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      Today, 08:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbarton62 View Post
Go to your local Lowe's or whatever big box stores in Miami. They should have a good idea of who is reputable. Up here in Canada Lowe's acts as a facilitator for installations/reno's. They recommend all different trades.

Good luck.
For individual trades, this is a great suggestion.
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      Today, 08:44 AM   #15
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You all need to step up to the reality that this is a huge job, perhaps more than is reasonable for any (all) of you. It is easy to look over into an area you know little about and think 'that looks so simple, their fees are a rip-off'. Even if everybody is doing stellar work, just coordinating it all is a full time job. But it doesn't sound like you want to become a GC for a living, or you'd already know all about this stuff. It might be time to get real with Mom - if that is a rental property, do the math and perhaps it is wiser to cut your losses and sell it (during the biggest housing boom in the past 50 yrs). But if you are going to do a total rehab, find a pro you can trust and let them do what they have a ton of experience doing.
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      Today, 08:46 AM   #16
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before you rip anything out...figure out the cost of materials.
cost of materials right now is more expensive before pandemic.
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      Today, 11:19 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Maynard View Post
You all need to step up to the reality that this is a huge job, perhaps more than is reasonable for any (all) of you. It is easy to look over into an area you know little about and think 'that looks so simple, their fees are a rip-off'. Even if everybody is doing stellar work, just coordinating it all is a full time job. But it doesn't sound like you want to become a GC for a living, or you'd already know all about this stuff. It might be time to get real with Mom - if that is a rental property, do the math and perhaps it is wiser to cut your losses and sell it (during the biggest housing boom in the past 50 yrs). But if you are going to do a total rehab, find a pro you can trust and let them do what they have a ton of experience doing.
Oh trust me, Iíve told her she is better off selling it. I did the math based on what similar houses are selling for (almost none of the houses have interior pics so Iím guessing they are in bad shape also) and I calculated if she just made 4% on the money she gets from the sale it would be only about $500 short of what she could rent it out for just from the 4%. If she pulled some of the principle to match the rental income she could still go 20+ years. However she seems to be stuck on wanting to keep the property.
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      Today, 11:41 AM   #18
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Having done some major renovations on my new construction home a few years after buying it as the original owner, I'm glad I went with a GC. The work I had done ranged from a two story addition, finishing the basement, adding in new fireplaces, new windows where none existed, etc, etc. Unfortunately, good GCs will be booked. Beware of those that can jump onto your job immediately. Ensure the GC has a current license with your local municipality and is bonded and insured. Also, request references. Any good GC will have no problems providing references to customers of theirs. Go see the work and ask questions of the past customer.

One thing neglected in this discussion is the age of the said buildings. If they're old enough, you may be opening additional cans of worms when you tear into the walls. You might find yourself on the back end of doing more than you had originally planned due to the requirement to bring anything you touch up to current code standards. Being your own GC, you'll be responsible to navigate all of this. That's if you care to have everything done legitimately with the proper permitting.
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