Home Improvement Season Starts Early in Southern California


By Ali Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC

President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter

     The holiday season is in full swing and when it’s over many homeowners will be looking to the lull between New Year’s Day and spring to take advantage of our historically mild winters and get a head start on the home improvement season. So, whether you will be embarking on a do-it-yourself (DYI) effort or a project requiring the services of a certified remodeling professional, Southern California winters provide a terrific opportunity for homeowners to beat the rush of the prime spring and summer remodeling seasons - if they plan their projects carefully.

     If you will be looking to do some home improvement this winter, remember that while pop songs proclaim “it never rains in California,” much of the rain we do experience will occur in the late winter and early spring months and inclement weather will have 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 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.

       Permitting and inspection by your local authorities are issues can also create delays. Since winter isn’t prime vacation time, it is prime time for cold and flu season and illness can often wreak havoc on staff members as well as subcontractors, so plan accordingly. Likewise, make sure you and your remodeler are clear on all of the necessary permits at the earliest possible point in the project. Remember, any changes in your plan during the project could require additional permits – so be prepared.

     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 that the odds are you will find 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 with your remodeler.

     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 and you will always be safer budgeting extra time with a quality subcontractor your contractor trusts than simply picking one off of an internet site.

     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. Remember, for most Americans, the home is 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 www.biabuild.com on the web.