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Ask a Contractor: What to Expect During Renovations

March 21st, 2022 |

Before you begin a renovation project on your investment property, there are many factors to consider: cost, permits, hiring renovation contractors and more. Here is a guide to help you through the process.

Mandatory or Optional Upgrades

Your renovation project may include either mandatory or optional upgrades, or a combination of both. 

Mandatory Upgrades

Sometimes a building needs mandatory upgrades to comply with local safety codes. For example, you may need to upgrade the electrical or plumbing systems before you can rent out a home. 

Optional Upgrades  

Optional upgrades are a matter of personal preference and are not required for code compliance. Examples include installing solar panels, adding a new porch or replacing kitchen countertops. Optional upgrades can improve the design, func or curb appeal of your home. 

Licensed Contractor

A licensed general contractor has the experience and knowledge necessary for a successful and safe renovation project. In Massachusetts, for example, a general contractor must have a valid Construction Supervisor License (CSL). Specific licenses are required for plumbing, electrical and other specialized work. You can verify a Massachusetts contractor’s license with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards


A contract need not contain pages of legal jargon, but it should clearly state the essential points of the renovation project. Before you sign, make sure that the following details are written into the contract: 

Project description, including materials and their costs, labor costs, permit applications, debris disposal, liability insurance and workman’s compensation coverage. 

  • Payment installment schedule and payment method. 
  • Estimated project start and end date.
  • Lien waivers for each payment, stating that the funds were used to pay for materials and labor described in the invoice. 
  • Clear procedure for changes, including a description of new work, cost, and impact on the timeline. 
  • Escape hatch providing a specified time period to rescind the contract without penalty.
  • Signatures of both parties (general contractor and you)

A contract is essential if you want to avoid surprise charges, unnecessary delays, debris left at the construction site or other issues. 


For a renovation project, the general contractor usually applies for permits through your local building department. A permit application ensures that the project will adhere to local building and fire codes. The required permits depend on the type of project. In Massachusetts, for example, permits are required for alterations to a building’s structure or major systems, such as 

  • Home additions
  • New garage
  • New deck
  • Interior wall removal 
  • Electrical rewiring 
  • Plumbing replacement

The permit must be prominently displayed at the project site. If construction has begun without the proper permits, the building department can order a shutdown or even a tear-down of the project. 


The local building department will send an inspector to check certain stages of the renovation. These inspections ensure that the project is meeting safety code requirements. If a violation is found, the inspector will tell the contractor what to do to bring the project up to code standards. 

The general contracting professionals at RH Blanchard have the skills and experience for your renovation project. Get in touch today for your free quote.