Plan Ahead for Autumn Home Improvements, Landscaping


ByAli Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC

President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter

    One of the biggest advantages to living in Southern California for homeowners and home sellers is that our autumn and early winter months provide considerably more time for them to attend to details that are usually attended to in summer, such as landscaping and home improvements.  

     However, given the drought-busting storms we experienced last winter and spring, this autumn and winter could present some far different challenges for anybody planning any major improvements to their home. Despite the fact that the Farmer’s Almanac (which claims an 80 percent accuracy rate) predicts more stormy weather beginning in late autumn, no one can forecast with any certainty what kind of weather will be experiencing this winter.  So, whether you will be embarking on any major landscaping projects, do-it-yourself (DYI) home improvements or projects requiring the services of a certified remodeling professional - plan your projects carefully.

       As much as Californians appreciate rain, the fact remains that inclement weather exercises a great effect on exterior work – particularly with paint, concrete and putty. While professional remodelers will generally budget for inclement weather in their schedules, too often the delays caused by rain are overlooked by DYIers. Paint needs dry surfaces and time to dry while concrete needs time to cure, so remember to always budget a few extra days into your schedule to be on the safe side.

    If you do use a professional remodeler, remember they will be dealing with lead times and back orders when it comes to products such as coatings, fixtures, tile and other items. Make sure to budget for these possible delays-many of which can often be avoided by ordering all of your selections at the beginning of the project.

     Homeowners removing trees or adding walls or rooms sometimes find they’ve run afoul of city, county or home owner association (HOA) rules. Start every project by checking with any local authorities on these issues and bear in mind that permitting and inspection by these authorities can also create delays. Autumn and winter are prime time for cold and flu season and illness can wreak havoc on government staff members as well as landscapers or remodelers, so plan accordingly by ensuring everyone involved is clear on all of the necessary permits and approvals at the earliest possible point in the project.

     When working with a contractor, one of the terms you will encounter is ‘punch list’. According to the Dictionary of Construction a punch list is “a list of items within a project, prepared by the owner or his representative, and confirmed by the contractor, which remain to be replaced or completed in accordance with the requirements of the contract for construction at the time of substantial completion”. That means you will probably encounter additional items which will need to be fixed or added before the project is finished.  Make sure time to complete the punch list is incorporated into any agreements you have and prepare for any changes that could require additional permits.

     Remember too that quality subcontractors such as cabinetmakers, painters, plumbers or others are in high demand at any time of year.  Make sure your contractor has developed good long-term relationships with subcontractors. The safest route is to budget extra time with a quality subcontractor your contractor trusts.

     Especially for major DIY projects, one good way to save time upfront is to inspect thoroughly for pre-existing conditions particularly in older homes such as termite damage, mold, lead paint, asbestos or rot. Dealing with these issues before the project commences will greatly reduce delays, costs and headaches as you approach completion. Because the home is for most Americans the biggest and best investment they will ever make, lavish the same care on improving your home as you would any major investment and it will benefit you in the long run.

     The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of homeownership, go to on the web.