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Remodeling Challenges & Contingencies: An Interview with Tom Pellegrin, Owner, Third Coast Builders

Posted on March 5, 2015 Cabinets and Designs

Remodeling can be a stressful process for even the most laid-back homeowner. When it’s time for that wall to come down, or that countertop to come out, many unknowns can present themselves; a contingency plan can save a lot of time, and headaches. We sat down to chat with Tom Pellegrin, owner of Third Coast Builders, to talk about what Houston homeowners can do to prepare for a remodeling project—and to survive one!

About Tom

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Tom Pellegrin has lived in Houston for twenty-two years, and for sixteen of those years he’s owned and operated Third Coast Builders. In addition to TCB, Tom is an active member of the Greater Houston Builders Association, he serves on the Remodelers Council with Cabinets & Designs President Maria Frank, and he is a Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR).

“I wasn’t always in homebuilding,” explained Tom of his career journey. “I was in heavy equipment sales for twenty-five years, came to Houston for a job, changed jobs a few times after that, and eventually got into being a handyman—and here I am!”

Common Houston Remodeling Issues

When remodeling in Houston, it’s all about era, according to Tom. “Homes built prior to the late ‘70s have plumbing infrastructure issues like the possibility of a lead pipe at the waste arm connection, or galvanized water pipes that develop pinholes and interior pipe deposit build-up.” Many older homes also require electrical upgrades; current building codes require at least six circuits to service the kitchen, but older homes often have only one or two circuits.” That may have been fine way back when, said Tom, but in today’s technology-driven world it would be a recipe for disaster.

Planning Ahead and Staying Calm

The first step in planning for any eventuality in a home remodel is to hire a good contractor, said Tom. “[They] should know what is behind the walls, and their estimate should reflect that. If the home is older, and work has been done over the years you should expect repairs or modifications that may not necessarily be up to code; those items will need to be corrected.”

For contractors, Tom says starting with a clear scope-of-work is the first step toward effective communication with a client—and effective communication can be the difference between a positive and a negative experience for all parties involved.

Tom’s Top Tip

We asked Tom to draw on his sixteen years of experience and share his most important tip for a home renovation project and he wrote the following:

“A lot of owners want contractors to bid on a project; they will get several bids and try to choose. This is not necessarily the best approach. Unless there are exact plans and specifications, there could be a lot left to interpretation by the contractor. If an owner takes a low bid, they may find out a lot of things were not included—that contractor will want more money, or will be very unhappy. A better approach is to interview several contractors and decide which one will best meet your needs. Begin a relationship and work together to figure out what and how much. Everyone will be much happier!”

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