I am hearing from a lot of people that are ready to renovate their homes. After being at home for months, many have figured out they want to improve life through some home modifications. It could be a gym addition, modification to allow for an open floor plan, outside gathering space, need for more interior space, upgraded kitchen, or just a place away from those pesky school kids that you are now teaching. Home modifications can be complicated if not planned well. They also disrupt life for 3-6 months, so having a comprehensive plan is key.
Here are 10 tips to make your home renovation and addition projects a success.
- Call an architect to discuss your plan and review your existing home (structural system, mechanical system, lot set backs….) to see if your goals are possible. This meeting does have some cost, but if you go through this you will reduce challenges in the end. I have seen too many start construction before a complete plan is done only to run into costly construction phase changes.
- Make sure your budget matches your program. An architect can help in the beginning with a big picture guess to renovation costs. However, you will need to bring a builder into the process during schematic design. This is called integrated design process. You pay the builder to price the renovation and addition as you go through the design process so when you get to the finish line there is no surprise. You hit the target and have made all of the decisions along the way. Architect and builder can be a strong team that saves you money in the long run as we each have our specialty.
- Pick special moments to spend a little extra to make the project truly unique for your lifestyle. Limit these special moments to what enhances the life you want to live while making all the spaces functional. This is the balance between program and budget that is worked out in design.
- Let the architect do a full design including overall layout, elevations, sections, but also a performance specification and structural system design. This complete package will save you money during construction.
- Work with a team that knows quality. I often give a list of builders that I work with on a regular basis. These builders are on my list because I know they deliver high quality and happy clients. In our industry, word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy.
- It will cost more than it does on HGTV unless your project is also being filmed and you are getting donations in exchange for marketing to a national audience.
- Have a living plan in place for during construction. Will you rent a house in town, move into a RV, create a mobile kitchen in the basement, or go on an extended vacation for months? Having this plan in place and the associated costs if key to a successful project.
- Renovation and Additions require a lot of decisions, spending money, and people making noise. It can be stressful. Having a plan in place prior to construction is the best way to make this an enjoyable process.
- Ask for references from your architect and contractor. Hearing from others that have gone through the process is critical to making this very big decision. Don’t only ask them about the process, ask them about the results, how it is holding up, is it comfortable, does the design solution facilitate the life they hoped it would provide? I hear all to often that people had to make sacrifices because of surprises discovered during construction, this happens, but it happens a lot less when you have a good design before construction starts.
- Think holistically. A renovation or addition is a big step. Do research on your neighborhood – are you over building? Check on your long-term goals – how long will this change facilitate the life you want? What maintenance items can be taken care of during this process – are you electric bills too high, is there an uncomfortable room that needs to be insulated?
Remember, the design and construction process should be fun! You are creating your dream home and solving challenges that you have been living with. Hire a team that is excited to work through this process with you and have your priorities in mind when they are making decisions.
Feel free to call me to discuss before investing your hard earned money with a team. I am glad to offer guidance to help you understand the process.