How to Speak Remodeling Lingo

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

The home building industry celebrates National Remodeling Month in May, but remodeling is popular year-round, and the industry is growing every year. Whether it’s a small cosmetic remodel such as replacing bathroom fixtures, or a major down-to-the-wall-studs overhaul of your kitchen, understanding the terminology your professional remodeler is using can be very helpful to ensure you get the finished project you want.

This glossary of common terms used by builders and remodelers will help you understand the language of your remodeling project — and help you avoid miscommunication with your contractor.

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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.

Bid. A proposal to work for a certain amount of money, based on plans and specifications for the project.

Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR). A professional designation program offered through the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council™. To attain the CGR designation, a remodeler must take a specified number of continuing education courses and comply with a strict code of ethics.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). CAPS professionals have learned strategies and techniques to meet the home modification needs of homeowners 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Punch list. A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.

Subcontractor. A person or company hired directly by the general contractor to perform specialized licensed work at the job site.

To find a professional remodeler in your area, contact ktn@biahawaii.org.

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.