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How to Manage the Budget for Your Home Remodel: An Interview with Jason Muise of Safari Construction Management

By Jason Muise

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Safari Construction is a full service construction company. We do everything from small residential projects to full size new office buildings. I started the company in 2005 after working for two large construction companies where I worked mostly in the Boston area. I have a degree in Accounting and a degree in Finance, both of which help me to run the company from a global perspective. While going to school nights I worked in the field where I learned to use my hands which gave me the hands on experience that I need to provide the level of detail that is required.

What is one of the biggest challenges that people have when they're trying to stick to their remodeling budget?

People often get what I call "wide eyes" when it comes to a remodel project. They look at certain web sites or read certain magazines that have these glamorous pictures of projects in them. They often do not realize the cost associated with the project. It is best to discuss the project in full with your contractor in order to come up with a reasonable and affordable budget.

How do you and your clients typically decide on the budget for a home remodeling project?

When I develop my budgets I use the "wants and needs" plan. First decide the needs of the project or, "What is required?" Second, move on the wants or, "What is aesthetically pleasing?" By keeping the "needs" ahead of the "wants" you get an end result that is both functional and looks great.

What are some of the key steps that can help homeowners avoid financial surprises during their remodel?

The first key step is to hire the right contractor. Although there are almost always hidden surprises when doing a remodeling project, the right contractor should be able to anticipate some of the possible issues that come up and plan for them. I am not saying that we can see through walls but a contractor should know that if a wall has to be moved for example there is the possibility of plumbing and or electrical issues that may arise.

What advice would you give a homeowner who has a limited budget and is choosing from different bids for their building project?

The most important thing that any homeowner can do when choosing a contractor is to do your homework. Ask the tough questions: How long will the job take? Do you anticipate leaving the project for a period of time to work on another job? What is your warranty period? On a sizeable project you will be, for lack of a better term, "living" with your contractor for a period of time. You will more than likely see that crew every morning at 7:30 and say goodnight to them at 4:00. Choosing the wrong contractor can lead to a nightmare of overspending and wasted time.

When can extra remodeling/building costs come up and how often does this happen?

Extras can come from a few different avenues. Often times the Owner initiates a change. Owner initiated changes are not always a bad thing. This means that they saw something that they like or we were able to provide something that enhances the project. Other changes can come from what we term "unforeseen conditions." We do our best to plan for all contingencies but there is always the possibility of that issue that was not considered that jumps up to bite you.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

Safari can be reached via our web site or the office phone at 603 893 4242 or our address which is 10 Industrial Dr., Windham, NH 03087

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