Homeowners are deciding to “stay put” for the time being due to the downturn in the economy and the decrease in home values. For those considering a renovation, here are a few easy tips to keep in mind that will minimize stress and ensure the completion of a project without a hitch.
Create a list of the desired projects to be completed
Be detailed with this list. If remodeling a kitchen for example, create a separate line item for each aspect of the renovation such as appliances, granite countertops, new cabinets, hardwood flooring, sinks, faucets, pendant lighting, etc. Consider projects with long –term environmental and cost saving effects (ie: using “green” products and/or the use of “solar” products).
Rank the order of importance of each project
If there is more than one decision maker, independently rank the priority of each item of the remodel. Compare each other’s rankings, and together determine the final list of items ranked in order of priority. This exercise may seem daunting, but it is important to jointly decide on the most important aspects of the project.
Check with your HOA and with the city for any approvals or permits needed
Once the project is defined, make sure there are no restrictions in the CC&Rs. For those living in a community with a Homeowner’s Association, board approval may be required for certain renovations. Also, check with the city on whether any special permits are required. It would be a waste of time and money to begin the project only to find out the necessary approvals and/or permits were not obtained.
Set a budget
Set a budget for the project and stick to it. Included in the budget should be a 30% allowance for unforeseen expenses. There are always unexpected situations that arise with remodeling, so be prepared.
Collect pictures of the look you want to achieve
Look through magazines and tear out pictures of your desired look. Keeping a collection of photos will make the bidding process much easier and help the merchants understand the end result.
Get bids from qualified, local businesses
Get estimates from 2-3 qualified experts for the project. Support local merchants! Estimates should include the scope of work to be performed, details on the deliverables and the timeline for completion. As the bids are received, record the estimates for each line item of the project. Also ask about the payment terms. Never pay for the entire project upfront. Payment should be based on an agreed upon amount at the start, and then upon the completion of specific milestones.
Draw the line where your budget is set
Look at your ranked priorities. Anything falling below the budget line will have to wait. If eliminating certain elements of the remodel is not possible, then there are two choices: 1) delay the project until the budget can be increased, or 2) adjust the selections in order to fit more into the existing budget.
Select the appropriate expert(s) for your project
Ask to see a portfolio of the work each expert has completed. Also, check references and be sure to check for licensing and bonding (if required) for the work that is being performed.
Consider the use of an interior designer
Calling in the assistance of a trained, professional interior designer will ensure the cohesiveness of the project, and it can eliminate the agony of having a less than desirable finished product. It may well be worth it to add this cost into your overall budget.
Decide on the best time of year to conduct your project
Summer may be the best time of year to remodel since vacations can be taken during the time it is necessary to be out of the house (like when the tile floor is being jack hammered). Keep in mind that new cabinets usually take 6-8 weeks to receive, so be sure to plan accordingly around holidays and other major life events.
A home renovation can go smoothly if planned appropriately. These easy tips, when implemented, can lead to a successful, less stressful remodeling experience. One last tip, try to enjoy the journey while creating a vision of comfort and luxury for your home.