If you are looking to undergo an apartment renovation in your New York City dwelling, it is likely that you want to have a clear timeline for how long your apartment may be uninhabitable or limited. While contractors are usually particularly good at providing reasonable timelines, there are often unexpected occurrences during construction that can delay the project’s finish date. Most commonly, the cause for a project delay is what is called a change order, more specifically a design initiated change order (DICO). These are unforeseen circumstances that can delay a project by a few days or even a few months depending on what is found.
A DICO is put in place whenever it is determined by the contractor that what was designed for can no longer happen, due to an existing condition not being accurately depicted, or an existing condition that causes a construction task to be infeasible. Examples in NYC apartment are circumstances such as utility wires or pipes not being where a designer thought they would be when opening a wall, finding something like mold, or a leak that was not anticipated or seeing code compliance issues that cannot be touched unless they become code compliant. There are many other examples but any time there is an interruption, it is up to the contractor to stop his work and inform a designer of the issue. In most cases, the design build firm will put out a DICO to review the plans and make any changes necessary.
So, what are these common change orders to look out for, and how can they be avoided? After all, if you are spending a lot of money on your NYC apartment renovation, so you want to make sure it all goes smoothly. Here are some of the common ones, and how you can avoid them.
Make sure you hire a qualified contractor
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid any change orders could be as simple as making sure you hire the right individual. If you are working on a specific room like a bathroom remodel, then do not hire an individual who specializes in kitchen renovation. While contractors through their general training may be capable of doing projects across their discipline, the reality is that their specialty is built on their experience within that specialty through proper training and common issues they have learned from.
If you are in the market for an interior renovation, you do not need to hire something who specializes in kitchen or bathrooms, as they are more about understanding utilities and less about making aesthetic improvements to rooms. More importantly, these specialists know what to anticipate, and working on numerous New York City apartments, understand what to factor into their estimates and project timelines.
Have 10% set aside for any additional labor concerns
In many cases, the contractor will put a change order in place because they anticipate additional labor to complete a task. It may not necessarily mean that the design must change but the contractor believes that absorbing the additional cost of the work will be detrimental to the bottom line and was not covered in the original scope.
While a scope usually may have a lump sum agreement in cost, there is usually a clause in a contract that allows a contractor to request additional funds if they come across unanticipated labor. So, when a contractor comes to you and says we have a labor issue, having the money set aside can essentially negate any delay in the project.
Always Review Design plans for Exclusions or Inaccuracies
The most common reason a change order must be initiated is when design plans misrepresent or exclude something that should be present in the drawings. A lot of times a design build firm might have to guess where things are when odds are a homeowner might have known and did not say anything or check work.
An example might be a kitchen renovation design that guesses wherein the ceiling electrical wires might be running. But maybe you had done some previous work in the electrical and you were informed where the wires are. Or maybe you have blueprints of your original structure, that could show the designer where the electrical is. It is always important to communicate with your designer and share any knowledge you have and thoroughly look through designs.
Consider the complicated nature of your design
Odds are that change orders are more likely to come to the surface during a large scale apartment remodel or a new layout for a bathroom remodels or an interior renovation. So, keep in mind that even if you have a lot of money and can invest in an expensive renovation, a complicated design can create a wide range of issues.
Anytime that you move appliances that rely on electrical or plumbing utilities, it generally requires having to open walls to relocate those utilities. When walls get opened, potential issues could be things such as code compliance or obstacles that prevent access to the proposed location. This can lead to significant cost overruns by trying to make your design safe and functional.
It is recommended that you should always have a plan B in mind if your desired layout becomes difficult or infeasible. Or more importantly, if you can envision a layout that does not require you to move appliances, but maybe just simply upgrades them, this is a recommended solution that can save a lot of time and money. If you do decide though that your dream layout is what you really want, then always be prepared to throw extra money in the budget, and factor in the potential for additional time of the project.
Overall an apartment remodel is a good investment and should make your dreams come true with the substantial price tag that comes with it. But keep in mind that there always limitations, and while most things can be done, ensure you prioritize the unexpected in your plans.