The key to any successful project is proper planning. And with any renovation, a large part of the project’s work begins before the 1st subcontractor steps foot on your property. Try not to rush through the following steps and I promise you, it save you money & time.
1. THINK BIG, SAVE BIG
I’m a big believer in knowing where you want to end before you begin any project. If you are considering splitting your renovations into several small projects, start with the BIG picture and create a master set of plans for your home. Then prioritize which projects you want to do 1st. If you plan well, each piece of the renovation will work together and you won’t find yourself later tearing out something you just did when moving to the next phase.
2. KNOW YOUR FAMILIES NEEDS
The 1st job of any renovation is to fix what is just not working for your family. Ask yourself: what changes do I have to do to this house to make it practical for my family. Is it an extra bathroom, a new kitchen, a master suite addition. Or is it simply a flow issue, a room that is cut off and not used because of layout and other rooms cramped. These items are almost daily struggles and you will be able to list them immediately. If you don’t fix these issues in your design, you will find yourself renovating again or moving.
3. Splurge Items
These are the items everyone gets excited about. They either push the cost of a necessity like having inset cabinets or a metal farmhouse railing for your staircase or they are pure add on’s like a coffered ceiling or ship lap walls. Of course most of these items are personal preferences you add because it’s what you want. But, there are many reasons to splurge that go beyond personal desire. Sometimes its to push your investment and get more return if you decide to sell. Whatever the reason, plan them out so you find room in the budget. These are the items you look back on and they make you smile. It’s your stamp on the project. Because what you splurge on says as much about you as where you save.
4. Know your Costs
Many deliverables will fall on you to purchase & provide. These items often include light fixtures, appliances, cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, tile etc. Most builders will give you an allowance in their budget with their proposal. Look very closely at those “allowances” and do some shopping. See how close the allowances are to what you really plan on buying.
5. Bid your Project
Most people fear a contractor is going to take advantage of you. Deliver low quality work, over charge you, or even worse, take your money and run. Do your research and find at least 3 contractors that come recommended by someone who has used & recommends them. This should knock out the 3rd concern. If a contractor is trying to cultivate a business based on referrals probably won’t run. By getting multiple bids you should knock out concern number 2. If they are given the same scope of work the prices should not have a high fluctuation from 1 bid to the next. If there is, I wouldn’t automatically jump to Schuster. Someone could have misunderstood or someone could have missed a big item. Either way, its more than likely not a win for you if they forgot something. I would ask a lot of questions of both contractors to make sure everyone is on the same page. Its better than a surprise change order 1/2 way into your project. Last concern, quality. This will require due diligence on your part. Lay out your expectations on the front end & inspect the work daily. Ask questions if your expectations are not being met.
6. Understand the Projects Time Table
Planning your project with your friend/family/spouse, your architect, your designer. Permitting your project with the city. Saving your personal funds or getting the money from a loan to fund your project. Getting bids & choosing a contractor & getting on their schedule. All of this will take months at best and your project has not even begun. Allow the time for this & allow the time for your project to be done properly. Ask your contractor for a realistic timelime. Don’t give them the time table. Most people in sales mode will say yes only to tell you no later. Leave yourself open for an honest answer and you may get one.
7. Know your Limitations
Time, money, decision making skills, peace. Renovations take a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of skillful decision will need to be made by you & it provides very little peace until its over and you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is the experience of renovating. It is not for the faint of heart. Even worse if you live in the house while it is going on. Kill your exceptions of a clean house. Even with plastic walls it will be dusty all the time with construction debris.
8. What are you willing to sacrifice to move forward
Will you phase your project. Will you cut back on your splurges, will you pay more than you wanted and sacrifice your money, will you give up a clean house and privacy to save on moving out. We all have limitations. What are you willing to give up to make the dream a reality. Be honest with yourself.
9. Can you Go Big
Before investing the time & money make sure your project falls into the parameters of your zoning & building codes. You may need to apply for a variance and get approval before submitting your plans for review. You can stop by your city’s building department and look for information there but an architect familiar area will know most codes including set backs & land use issues. This takes me to number 10.
10. Pay the Professionals
There are many ways to save money in building, but don’t skimp on the people who put your house together. Th architect, engineer & a reputable builder are paramount to saving you money in the long run. It may shock you what they charge for their services but finding the right fit for you & your project is money well invested.
I had a very special client who told me she was spending a lot of money building her new master suite & kitchen addition. And she was going to enjoy the process. The great thing about her is she did & I hope you do to.