Spring is a great time to get started on your home remodeling project. So where is the best place to get started? Who should you call? What will it cost? How long will it take? What is the best solution? Here are some things that I have learned over the years doing many residential renovation projects:
- Have a complete plan before starting construction (or even before getting a contractor to give you a price). There are many variables in renovation projects and you will be making thousands of decisions. Get them out-of-the-way early, know the color paint, counter top faucet, and flooring before getting started.
- Don’t make changes (at least minimize them). Having a good plan in advance of construction will go a long way towards this goal. This is the place where budgets get out of hand, schedules get lost, and projects go bad – avoid making changes during construction if at all possible.
- Allow your contractor to purchase materials. The last thing you want is to order the studs for the addition and not have enough the day the framers are standing there waiting on the materials or even for the cabinets to be delivered a week early. Contractors know how to order materials, get special pricing from supply yards, schedule deliveries, and at the end of the day, you want them responsible for all aspects of the work being done.
- Listen to your professionals. Your architect and contractor are there to serve you and to help you make the best decisions possible. If they say, “you can do it, but I would not recommend it” LISTEN. If it is too expensive, too complicated, or simply not a functional solution, they will tell you in most cases. Take their professional advise after all that is why you are paying them.
- Have a contingency budget of at least 5%. Renovation work is the highest risk work for contractors. There are many concealed conditions and it is impossible to know what you are getting into behind the drywall before you get behind the drywall. There is almost always a surprise in every renovation project.
- Take a vacation – if at all possible, move out while the work is being done. This will help your nerves and allow the contractor to have full access to the project and schedule without worrying about bothering you by showing up too early or staying too late.
- Get out-of-the-way – Again, you have hired professionals to do what they do for a living. Don’t try to micromanage the process. Of course everyone in the process wants you to be happy and wants to hear you concerns. However, there is a means to their madness and letting them do things the way they think is best is usually the most efficient solution.
- Design Matters – Don’t just slap something together. Hire an architect to think through the design that will understand the desired function / goals and plan a project that meets your needs. Proper planning on the front end is always less expensive than planning / figuring it out during construction – or worse trying to fix it after construction is done. Beauty, function, energy efficiency, durability, and healthy solutions are all possible, but not typical in the construction industry unless an architect is involved.