Congratulations! You have just bought a new home in Israel, or you’re about to make an older one just like new. At first, it may seem a bit overwhelming. In addition to all the normal complications of any building project, you may not be familiar with the way these things are done in Israel, or even how to find out, and it can all be very confusing. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five guidelines to renovating in Israel, to help turn your dreams into reality:
1) Define What You Want
When undertaking such a project, the first thing you need to do is clarify what you really want as much as possible, because once you start it’s going to be hard (and expensive) to go back. Also, make sure these desires are in line with how your home is functionally set up. For example, you may want a huge bedroom, but not at the expense of a tiny bathroom or storage space. Afterwards, clarify what you want it to look and feel like. What are your preferences in regards to color, style and materials? Search for pictures of homes you like and notice what inspires you, what excites you and makes you feel happy.
2) Choose the Right Architect
Next, you’ll want to discuss these plans with an architect. Be sure to investigate the training and credentials of those you are considering. Ideally, your architect should have an academic degree from an officially recognized university. Beware in Israel of “interior design” diplomas from private institutions, many of which are granted after only a short course. Besides being a creative designer your architect should be able to draw up a realistic budget for your renovations, to connect you with the right contractor and to help coordinate and manage the project. Last, but not least, you want someone who will listen to you in order to understand how to bring to fruition your needs and desires.
3) Get a Quote
What is the most stressful aspect of renovations? For most people, it’s the budget. While you may have an estimate of the cost of your project, you’ll still need to get quotes from several contractors (kablanim) for a more accurate assessment. This is usually provided in a detailed document which specifies the price and what it includes, such as the exact work to be done, how it is to be done and the materials the builder will be using. Beware of contractors who prefer to give you a general price estimate for the whole job, without breaking it down to specifics, as there is no way to know exactly what you are getting for the price. Also, remember the lowest bid is not always the best. Sometimes it is better to hold off on some of the things you wanted to do and to pay a little bit more for better quality. You get what you pay for!
4) Choose the Right Contractor
Besides the price quote, there are other important factors to keep in mind when choosing your building contractor. First of all, never hire a contractor without asking for references. Unfortunately, there are many dishonest contractors out there, so it’s always worthwhile to hear about someone else’s experiences with contractors they have used for similar projects. Also, avoid dividing the job among several subcontractors. The best way to go is to hire one builder who is in charge of the whole project, hires all subcontractors and takes the responsibility defects and delays. The bottom line is a good, honest and experienced contractor is the main difference between an enjoyable renovating experience and a bad one, so take your time to make the right decision.
5) Stick to the Plan
After you start, try as much as possible to stick to your original plan while limiting improvisation. Budgets tend to go up during renovations if you aren’t careful. Also, make sure to hold to your original agreement regarding payments. Do not pay until the agreed upon stages of construction are completed. At the same time, when the contractor finishes a work stage, have the funds prepared and ready. Any unnecessary delays are not fair to the contractor who has workers to pay and other obligations to meet. This makes for a happier contractor and a happier end result for you!
No one said renovating in Israel is easy, but if you follow these guidelines, you can turn it into a positive experience, the results of which you can enjoy for many years to come!