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Top 10 Remodeling Terms You Need to Know

If you are remodeling your home for the first time, the process may seem daunting. A professional remodeler can guide you through the process and provide expert insights on how the project will be completed.

Professional remodelers, like other industries, use specific terminology when discussing the nature of your project. Understanding the lingo can help ensure you get the finished project you want and avoid miscommunication with your contractor.

To help you decipher the language of your remodeling project, this glossary of the top ten common terms will navigate the remodeling process smoothly.

  1. Allowance: A specific dollar amount allocated by a contractor for specified items in a contract for which the brand, model number, color, size or other details are not yet known.
  2. Bid: A proposal to work for a certain amount of money, based on plans and specifications for the project.
  3. Building Permit: A document issued by a governing authority, such as a city or county building department, granting permission to undertake a construction project.
  4. Call-back: An informal term for a return visit by the contractor to repair or replace items the home owner has found to be unsatisfactory or that require service under the warranty.
  5. Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS): CAPS professionals have learned strategies and techniques to meet the home modification needs of home owners who want to continue living in their homes safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age or ability level. CAPS graduates pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending education programs and participating in community service.
  6. Change Order: This is written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. The change order should reflect any changes in cost.
  7. Cost-plus Contract: A contract between a contractor and home owner that is based on the accrued cost of labor and materials plus a percentage for profit and overhead — also known as a time-and-materials contract.
  8. Draw: A designated payment that is "drawn" from the total project budget to pay for services completed to date. A draw schedule is typically established in the contract.
  9. Plans and Specifications: These are drawings for the project, and a detailed list or description of the known products, materials, quantities and finishes to be used.
  10. Punch List: A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.
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