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Keeping Your Home Renovation on Track: An Interview with Liam Leary of Chestnut Hill Renovations

By Liam Leary

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

My name is Liam M Leary, and I am owner of Chestnut Hill Renovations. We have been in business since 2003, specializing in additions, and all types of residential renovations and remodeling. We service greater Boston and southern New Hampshire. We are a fully licensed and insured, full service general contracting company, and excel at meeting the needs of the client. We do a lot of additions, kitchens, bathrooms, added spaces such as finished basements and attics, master suites, garages, siding, decks and porches.

Can you briefly describe what a renovation is? Is it the same thing as a remodel?

These are very similar, but the best way to differentiate the two is that a remodel is changing the use of a space or spaces, where a renovation is making a space new without changing its use. For example, some of our projects are cosmetic kitchen renovations, changing the flooring, cabinetry, paint and fixtures. On another kitchen remodel, we may be doing all of the above but also include opening walls into other rooms, or adding an addition to expand the space.

What are some of the most common renovation projects for houses in the Nashua area?

Well, that's a tricky question because it really depends on the timing, and the economy. In the late 2000s, most of our projects were large additions and major remodels, but as the economy suffered, and people were being more cautious about their spending, most projects were finished basements, bathrooms, siding & sunrooms. Recently, as homeowners are becoming more confident in the economy, and in their financial stability, it seems that people are putting on the additions and master suites that they have been holding off on building, or doing the kitchen remodel that they've really wanted to do for a long time.

When a house needs a lot of improvements, how should homeowners decide what to do first?

This really comes down to budget and urgency. If your roof or siding is failing and taking water, this becomes priority as the longer you let it go, the more money it will cost to repair the damage. People would always rather do their kitchen or bathroom before their roof, but making sure the house is structural sound and protected is always first as far as I'm concerned. Next I would look at energy and money saving projects like adequate insulating, efficient heating and cooling systems, or energystar rated windows and doors. Then, you go for the things you enjoy like kitchens, bathrooms and decks. A lot of times, bundling these things together can save money.

What's the importance of choosing the right designer and builder, and do you have any tips for how to do that?

I can not stress enough how important it is to choose the right contractor for your project. There's so many people I come across that have had bad experiences from minor to worst imaginable. But there's also a lot of great ones out there too. For most people, your house is your biggest asset, and you need to make sure that your contractor is qualified to handle the scope of your project. Looking for the lowest price is rarely the best option when it comes to your home, and fixing someone else's mistakes can be more costly in the long run. Make sure that the contractor you choose is qualified, licensed (if applicable), fully insured, and carries workers compensation. Check their references and that their business is registered with the states they operate in. Even better if you have a friend that they have done a project for. A little bit of homework can save major headaches later on.

What are one or two of the biggest challenges that homeowners run into during the renovation process? How can they successfully deal with that?

Always make sure that the company you use has a clear contract. It should be detailed about the scope of work, payment schedule , and how change orders are processed. I don't have issues in this regard, as I always stress to the client the importance of communication throughout the project. It is important to talk about your budget, and that sometimes unexpected costs arise. Always make sure you sign off on additional work before it's performed, and expect the inconvenience of living through the project. Taking extra care to protect the living area from dust, and keep the area safe can add time to a project, but will ultimately make the process easier to live through.

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

You can visit our website at or call our office at 603-897-5091

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