If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
We have all heard it. Our dads have said it, we say it to our kids, and yet, we are quick to forget.
Planning a remodel does not have to be as complicated as it sounds. You, most likely, are not a contractor and do not have the slightest idea what the difference between a King Stud and a Cripple is. But you do not have too, that is what you hire an expert for. But there are several things you can do before even contacting a builder that will ensure you get the best return on your investment.
1. Prepare a budget. And tell your builder about it.
Mistake: “If I tell my builder a budget, and it is over the actual cost of the project, he will just raise his price.”
Tip: Being upfront with your builder on a budget means that no time will be wasted on designs that are clearly not realistic for your budget (which saves you money upfront on design fees).
Hint: A budget should really consist of two numbers. The I WOULD LIKE TO INVEST THIS MUCH number and I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT SPEND MORE THAN THIS number.
2. Scope of Work.
Mistake: “I would like to remodel my kitchen. Can you do that?
Tip: Spell out exactly what you would like accomplished. Kitchen projects can land under 3 main categories. RENOVATION new counters, fixtures, hardware, and lighting), Minor Remodel (refinish cabinets, new floors, counters, and fixtures), Major Remodel (new cabinets, possible layout change, new counters, fixtures, flooring, paint, lighting, appliances, etc.). The more information you give to a builder upfront, the more they can give back to you.
Hint: When creating your Scope of Work, categorize items under 3 headings. MUST HAVES, WOULD LIKE TO HAVE and THESE WOULD BE NICE. For example: It would absolutely be a deal breaker to not have vaulted ceilings in an addition, so if that throws the budget, lets just not do anything, or put our money elsewhere. Fans in all the bedrooms is a must have, but a huge industrial fan in the living room would be SWEET! Categorizing items in this way will help your builder when putting your estimate together.
3. Look at your calendar.
Mistake: Not being clear about your scheduling requirements. Most builders are booked months in advance and not communicating your expectations can result in a planned family dinner being cooked in the garage.
Tip: Ask any potential builders how long he estimates your remodel to take. As about the permitting process and if engineering will be required. Discuss if living in your home during the remodel is possible and/or advised. Consider planning a vacation during the demolition portion of your project.
Hint: If you are anxious to get your project going, ask your builder if they have a short list. This requires you to be flexible to fill any cancellations but can get you on the calendar months faster than taking the next available scheduled opening.
4. Know your style.
Mistake: Walking into a tile or fixture showroom with no idea what you are looking for.
Tip: Look at Pinterest, Houzz or magazines. Save photos of things you like, colors that you are attracted too or design elements you find interesting. In marketing, they say that Content is King. The same is true for remodeling.
Hint: Ask your builder if he has product recommendations or a designer that he recommends. Again, there is a reason you are hiring a professional to complete your remodel. Lean on them and their expertise.
5. Pick the right contractor.
Mistake: Meeting with 3-5 contractors, repeating your desires, asking them general questions and then picking one (blindly, by gut feeling or lowest price). Do I need to tell you what your dad would say?
“You get what you pay for.”
Tip: When looking for a contractor, ask your friends who they used. Read reviews online. Review their website.
Hint: Check back for a post on how to ensure you choose the right contractor for your specific needs.