Photo courtesy of SBP.

Starting from scratch: Pro tips for rebuilding

Hire smart. Ensure that contrators working on your home are licensed and bonded, and ask for proof, says Robert Lynch of Lynch Construction Group. Get multiple references, and have them provide an estimate that fully outlines the scope of work and ensures no surprises of price changing.

Fight against fraud. Don’t fall for a fraudulent contractor, says Zack Rosenburg of SBP. Visit for details on avoiding unscrupulous contractors. “If it sounds too good to be true, or if someone is selling you too hard, you’ve got to walk away,” Rosenburg says.

Plan projects wisely. Focus up front on items that might have long lead times, such as custom exterior doors and cabinetry, countertops and lighting, says Alan Colby of Colby Constructors. This is also a good time to consider making changes to the house that could result in a better floor plan and/or higher appraised value. “Focus on high-impact/value improvements such as kitchen and bath,” Colby says. “Commissioning a designer could be money well spent.”

Stay involved. Work with the contractor to prepare the scope of work and timeline. Help the construction stay on track by selecting required items such as appliances, paint colors and flooring well in advance, says Carol Smith of Harvey Smith Construction. “There is a lot to do rather than wait until the builder says, ‘I need these now,’” says Smith.

Keep the full design in mind. “Pick out everything together and make sure everything coordinates,” says Angela Poirrier of Acadian House Kitchen & Bath Design. “You want to make sure everything comes together first before you start spending money.”

Mind the budget. Create a real budget and stick to it, Rosenburg says. “The last thing you want is to peter out on money,” he says. “You could end up having beautiful faucets in your bathroom but no toilet. You really want to make sure you figure out the needs and the wants.”

Restore furniture the right way. Before beginning the restoration process, ensure that mold is killed using Borax, Clorox or a similar product, says Lou Bonanno, owner of Donnie’s Furniture Repairing & Refinishing. Only then should you strip and sand the furniture. The final step is to make any needed repairs and to refinish the piece.