Thinking about starting a home remodeling or renovation project? Whether you’re planning to tackle it yourself (DIY), or hire a pro, I am hoping this article give you the information you’ll need to know before you start.
Remodeling / renovation can be quite a challenge to take on. There are number of reasons for taking on such a challenge. Some of these include:
- Increase Home Value
- Going Green/Energy Efficiency
- Better Function and Usability
- Minor Facelift or Refresh
- Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances and fixtures
A home Remodel / renovation projects involve plenty of planning, details, measuring, choosing materials, working with suppliers and professionals. It can take over part of your life, but there is a way to get through it.
Where Do You Begin
One of the first steps is to develop an idea of what you want to do with your home remodel / renovation is to start writing a prioritized list of all your wants and needs. Look through magazines and browse websites for inspiration. Collect pictures of homes remodeling projects you like and create a stylebook. When hiring a pro, look for the one who can guide you through the design ideas, and styles, ( Country, Contemporary, Classic and so on…). The more clearly you can envision and describe your project, the better prepared you’ll be when making a decision.
Define your Goal
Think about the space you are remodeling, think about it’s traffic patterns, the use of the space, the furniture size and placement, colors, lighting, and appliances. What is the obvious reason you want to remodel the space? Do you what more room to entertain? Are you looking for a more relaxing feel? Make notes about how you plan to use the remodeled space, and then try to distill that information into a one- or two-sentence goal. For example, “My open and casual kitchen will be a place for family and friends to gather, relax and enjoy meals.” Or” My spouse and I will no longer be working around each other to get ready in the morning, now that we each will have our own space in our new brighter bathroom.
Don’t Forget to Green it up.
Improving your home efficiency by going green is a great idea to include in your project. These usually include replacing windows and doors, upgrading heating and cooling systems, adding insulation, and so on. It makes for a more comfortable, energy and cost efficient home.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Now is time for a general idea of how much you have to spend on a remodel/ renovation. You’ll need to start crunching numbers. The National Association of The Remodeling Industry offers a worksheet to help make the math easy.
With a kitchen, think about types of countertops, cabinets, flooring and appliances. With bathroom, think about tile, vanity, shower doors, etc. Create a wish list and then do a little research into the costs of your items and compare them with your preliminary budget. Are you keeping on target? If you are hiring a pro, bounce ideas off them, and brainstorm together to get the space you are looking for. Get samples of tile finishes and flooring, builddirect.com is a great source for samples.
Don’t for get to keep a small contingency budget as well. When working in an older home, you never know what will be found behind the walls. Will there be any structural issues, will there be asbestos, or knob and tube wiring? Things such as these will need to be addressed to pass inspection, and to keep your home safe. Without a contingency budget, you may have to cut back on wish list in order to complete the project and not go over budget.
Budget Time as Well
When hearing the word budget, most automatically think of money. However, with remodeling / renovation, it’s also important to budget time. Is there an event on the calendar that would be affected if your kitchen were under construction? How long will can you do without it? Do you have a second full bathroom to use while the main one is being remodeled? If not, what is your plan? Remember to discuss your time-budget when interviewing potential remodelers, if deciding to forgo DIY.
When embarking on any remodel / renovation, you need to have reasonable expectations. Talk to people who have been through the process before. It’s going to take a certain amount of time. There is going to be
certain amount of mess. Then there the financial stress. If you are not prepared for this of time and you go in with blinders on, then that takes all the excitement out of it. It should be exciting, and something you’re proud to show off.
Now the Work Begins
Remodeling / renovation of your home is so much different from having a new one built. With remodeling/renovation, your home becomes the worksite. You live along side with the project from start to finish. Once construction begins, you’ll find yourself longing for a dust-free home or a fully functioning kitchen or bathroom. It’s going to feel very inconvenient. Planning is key and the end result is well worth it though.
If you decided to forgo the DIY route, and hire a remodeler you need to have a consistent and open communication between you and the person you hired. This will enhance your understanding of the project, provide an opportunity for each to exchange ideas, and will ultimately help to make it a more positive experience for everyone involved. To make this happen, you need to:
- Determine the contacts for daily decisions or an after-hours emergency. One from the remodeler’s camp, one from yours. Stick to that to avoid confusion. Designate a backup for each contact person to assure communication continuity in anyone’s absence.
- Keep messages in writing, whether it be via text message, email or a notebook kept in a specific area on the home that each contact checks.
- Always speak up. If you are not certain about any aspect of the project, be sure to let the contact person know.
The Pre-Construction Meeting
To ensure the success of your remodel / renovation project, is to plan a pre-construction meeting. This will allow your remodeler to clarify procedures and explain how the project will progress. This will also allow you and your remodeler an opportunity to prepare for those issues that may arise later. As I said before, you never know what you may find behind the walls. You should think of this meeting as an opportunity for all participants to define their expectations and agree on the outcome. Some of the issues you may want to cover include:
- What parts of your home will be off limits to workers?
- Does your house have an alarm system?
- How to ensure that your children and pets stay out of the workspace?
- How will trash removal be handled? Where will your remodeler locate the dumpster on your property? Does your township requite a permit for this?
- Are utilities being added or relocated for your project? Have the proper permits been pulled?
- Does the remodeler anticipate interruptions of utilities during the project? If so, when and for how long? At certain stages of construction, the project may affect basic household necessities like water and electricity. Will you need to vacate the house at any time?
- What are your expectations regarding clean up? Will sweeping be sufficient for a daily cleaning, or will you need a more thorough cleaning in order to use the space?
- What times will workers begin and end work at your home? Have consideration for your neighbors as well as household members.
- Where can workers park near the job-site?
- Will bathroom facilities in your home be available to workers?
More Realistic Expectations
As I mentioned before, whether you going DIY or hiring a professional, prepare for inconvenience. A remodeling/renovation project can turn your home and on some days, your life upside down. A kitchen remodel will, of course, affect you meal planning. But a little ingenuity and some shortcuts can lessen the impact. You can set up a temporary cooking area by moving the refrigerator, toaster oven, and microwave to another room. You might arrange dishwashing in your laundry room. If the weather is warm, fire up the grill.
Designate a safe haven in your home where you can escape from the chaos and commotion. You will not know how important this is, until you find yourself there.
Guard against dust. During a remodeling / renovation project, dust has the tendency to appear everywhere. You would be amazed how it got from your upstairs bathroom remodel to inside your kitchen cabinets. To keep out as much dust as possible seal off you doorways and stairs; Turn off central air or heat when sanding. Make sure to stock up on extra filters so that you can change them often; Have all deliveries made through a designated entrance; Use doormats and temporary floor coverings where appropriate. Remove anything that can be damaged by the dust or at least cover it with plastic drop cloths that are taped shut.
You need to maintain a sense of humor, please remember that certain things will be out of your control and it’s better to laugh rather than become upset about things like delays or weather.
There You Have it
With a healthy attitude and good planning, you can get through your remodel / renovation, and can have that dream space that you always wanted. You are then entitled to invite the friends and family over to show it off and enjoy. Oh, and don’t forget to take those before and after photos to here “Wow, what a difference!”.
If you are in the Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia PA counties, and have some questions or need some help, feel free to contact me by using the handy form or call 215.371.4402.