Northwest NEWS

June 15, 1998

Home & Garden

How do you get started when you want to make changes to your home?


Burke Barker, owner of Empire Home Remodeling, with associates Larry Frey and Dane Anderson review home remodeling plans.

   Home improvements can be a challenge. How, when you may not know how to do it yourself, do you get started? Burke Barker, owner of Empire Home Remodeling in Woodinville and member of the Remodelers Council, King-Snohomish County Master Builders, provides the following information to help homeowners think through the remodeling process, and ask the kind of questions needed of the contractor.
   Homeowner: What are the first considerations a person should thing about?
   Barker: There are several steps a person should consider:

   1. Define/describe what those changes are to be.
   2. Given the desired changes, determine whether or not a designer or architect is needed.
   3. Determine a budget for the project. Consult with a reputable contractor for advise on current building costs.
   4. Hire an architect or designer or design/build remodeling contractor to provide a preliminary design and budget, if necessary.
   5. If a design is not required, consult with a remodeling contractors to provide firm price information.
   6. When it is determined that the project is financially feasible, retain the services of the appropriate professional, architect, designer, or design/build firm, to proceed with plans and/or formal contract proposal.
   7. Most importantly, do your research into the capabilities and the stability of any firm or individual you may hire for any aspect of your project.

   Homeowner: What does Empire Home Remodeling do?
   Barker: As the name implies, we conduct the full spectrum of residential remodeling from deck design and construction to room additions. We offer in house design/build services and interior design, including remodels, renovations, restorations. Our area of concentration is the Eastside with a specific focus on Woodinville.
   Homeowner: How does a homeowner find a competent qualified remodeling contractor?
  1. Talk to neighbors, friends, and relatives for names of proven remodelers. Call the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties for referrals. Check with local Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs and other community organizations.
   2. Ask any contractor whose services you may retain, for credentials including a list of clients, vendor and supplier names, evidence of insurance and registration number, bank reference and the name of his CPA. Call the Department of Labor and Industries to confirm current status. Remodeling is a business and should be run as a legitimate business.
   3. Do not arbitrarily select the lowest cost contract proposal. Be sure you have comparable services proposed.

   Homeowner: How would a homeowner find out how long a particular project will take?
   Barker: A reputable qualified remodeling contractor can provide that information at least within parameters.
   Homeowner: Is there a building permit required for all projects?
   Barker: All projects that involve structural considerations, plumbing, electrical or other technical procedures require a building permit. The homeowner can contact his local jurisdiction (city or county) for permit requirements or simply ask an architect or contractor.
   Homeowner: How inconvenient is remodeling?
   Barker: Inconvenience is generally a function of the size and complexity of the project. If it disturbs the living space of the homeowner, it obviously is more bothersome than one that is outside. While all remodeling is to some degree unsettling to the homeowner, an experienced sensitive remodeler will minimize the inconvenience.