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Tips to Homeowners

June 14, 1987|Armand L. Fontaine | Fontaine is president of the Western Regional Master Builders Assn. and a director of the American Building Contractors Assn

Question: We are going to do a major renovation project on our kitchen, which includes removing a wall. The contractor tells me that he will have the job completed in 30 days, and his contract so states. However, I am somewhat doubtful.

Answer: All home improvement contracts are supposed to have beginning and completion dates. However, this is practically meaningless because the contracts do not provide for any penalty should the project take longer.

In many instances, there are legitimate reasons why a contractor may take longer to fulfill a contract,such as weather, labor conditions, rescheduling, unforeseen circumstances and, very often, the cooperation of the homeowners.

However, based upon what you tell me, I do not believe that your project can be finished in 30 days. I think that 60 to 90 days would be more realistic unless most of the work, such as cabinet work, etc. is done off your premises and not too many major processes are involved in the remodeling project.

Contractors, by nature, are optimistic on completion dates and they also know that homeowners have an aversion to projects that take a long time. You could consider writing in a penalty clause for untimely completion; however, I doubt that the contractor will go along.

Q: I am using glass brick in the remodeling of my living room. A contractor tells me that this is a relatively new product. It seems to me that I have seen it in older homes. Would you know about this?

A: You are correct. The glass brick or glass block was invented in the late 1920s, and it is believed to have been invented by the Owens-Illinois Glass Manufacturing Co. It was very popular in Europe in the early '30s and then in Art Deco work in the United States between the mid- and late-'30s. Recently, it has become popular.

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