by Rochelle Riservato
May your remodeling projects be filled with less-than-the-normal and expected work change orders…but most of all — remember to keep a good sense of humor!
Many homeowners are choosing to remodel rather than purchase a new home due to the economy and its backlash on home equity values. And although a buyer can get a good deal—a seller cannot. So rather than leave home to find something bigger or with more amenities—it may be a good idea to customize your home with remodeling. It can be a favorable way to get exactly what you want.
However, it’s also a major journey that ranks high among life’s stressful events. It may bring forth many twists and turns with Curve Ahead and Dead End signs, which can be avoided or straightened out with the proper knowledge and research done ahead of time. Remember your home will be turned into a worksite with much disruption to your normal life for weeks or even months to come.
So we’ve provided a checklist of things to do and look out for and ways to make the travel to a remodeled and customized home a bit smoother—and keep your inconvenience to a minimum by having good relationships with tradesmen such as architects, builders, contractors, suppliers and your town’s building inspector.
- Decide on what your “ideal” remodeling will be by making a list of all the places you’d like to improve or add to in your home. Discuss what you like and dislike about your present home, the space you now have, and what you intend to replace or add into each space you want to remodel.
- Create a second list for each of those projects with what you plan to do with them. For example, in a bathroom do you want to replace or add tile on the walls and floors, replace your bathtub or add one, or simply change the faucets and other fixtures? And the same idea if you wish to remodel your kitchen. For bedrooms, your second list would contain items such as adding or eliminating a window, enlarging or adding a closet, or even adding an ensuite bath addition.
- If it’s something more extensive than that, such as completely finishing a basement, building an extension or even a second floor on a ranch home—make a wish list of what space and amenities you’d like to have on those major renovations.
- Visualize the new spaces—the colors and materials—and seek out inspiration by looking through magazines and websites or watching home improvement shows on television.
- Decide what part of the remodeling can be competently carried out as a Do-it-Yourself project and which part of the venture definitely needs an expert.
- Set a realistic budget on each renovation or remodeling by crunching the figures of incomes, savings and financial portfolio. Be realistic and plan with the financial situation you now have—not what you may have in the future.
- Get prices on each of the items you wish to add or change—and also get estimates with reputable tradespeople for each project. Look into “green” methods and supplies when pricing as many are tax-deductible and have rebates, which can save you money. And when choosing a professional for estimates, be sure to get references from people you can trust to minimize the amount of professionals you have to contact. Or join the online lists that have already researched the best pros in your area.
- If all you wish to have done isn’t feasible for your budget, then prioritize the remodeling and rethink each of the projects by revisiting your wish list and see what you can do without and what you can’t do without. Think about which is the most important project for you and your family’s lifestyle—which will enhance the dynamics of those in the household—and which project will add equity to the home and what the return on certain investments will be in the event you wish to sell in the future.
- If you must relocate during renovations consider the expenses that temporary accommodations and eating-out may cost and add those into your budget.
- A very important part of the amount of your remodeling investment is to find out the value of your home and if the finished product will fit into the neighborhood. A real estate rule of thumb is to not have the most expensive house on the block—as your home is only worth what the area calls for.
- Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do and get estimates and bids, make sure you choose a professional who is licensed, and ask to see the license. You can even go one step further and call the Better Business Bureau for added assurance.
- Make certain the professional you choose has the same vision as you do and is conscientious about giving you the results you are paying for.
- Another professional to speak with is at your local building department to make sure you or your contractor apply for all proper building permits. And be aware that depending on the magnitude of a remodel—getting permits can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.
- Be sure that you choose people who like to communicate and take your wishes seriously. You can’t hire someone you’d be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns with as things are destined to come up that weren’t anticipated in the planning stages. The people you work with must be able to discuss any changes and wishes you have and want to address them properly and promptly.
Setting a Timeline:
- Make sure each project is done in some sort of order that goes along with your lifestyle as best as possible. For example, which room is used the most; where is the most household traffic. Myriad factors can impact an ideal schedule—so be realistic and factor in unforeseen obstacles, inclement weather, material delay, or even the amount of your own time it takes for you to decide on things such as interior finishes, changes in original plans, or delays on what you’ve ordered from a supplier.
- Other items must be figured into a timeline, such as the county or local inspectors who conduct various inspections while remodeling is under process and whether their schedules fits into yours.
- Also remember that remodeling can involve changes due to inspections that ask for additional requirements, unavailable supplies, or an appliance that’s out of stock. Many of these unforeseen matters can affect the timeline—so prepare to be a little flexible.
Survival Tips for Lifestyle Changes:
- Learning how to survive through any remodeling process and minimize the change in your normal living habits can be as simple as designating temporary spaces for what is being remodeled.
- If your kitchen is being remodeling, creating a transitory space to cook in—even if just with a microwave—can help you adjust to the inconvenience. And, being aware of which foods to stock up on for easy meal preparations is, definitely, mandatory for this type of remodeling. It also may be wise to pack and label kitchen staples in clear containers for simple identification. And make sure to keep items that are used daily out and accessible. Things such as a can opener, basic eating and cooking utensils, and a coffee pot should be at your fingertips.
- Choose a room or area(s) within your home as far away from any construction in order to minimize the remodeling disruption to everyone’s normal activities. Set up a place to watch television, do homework, or even entertain. And make sure everyone knows how these areas and limited resources (bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.) are to be used to eliminate stress on all in the household.
- Protect furniture and carpeting by covering them in bordering rooms. This will shield them from dust that is circulated and dispersed as family members and workers travel between these areas. And remove any delicate items or hanging art and wall décor from adjoining walls to areas being worked on to eliminate possible accidents.
- It’s important to plan on adequate storage space for items that need to be removed from the construction area—things such as pieces of furniture, plants, fragile collectibles and such. Perhaps a temporary storage unit could be rented.
- Post special instructions and communicate with the workers about household pets. Let them know whether pets are in a certain room or area of the house—or if they should make sure doors are kept closed so indoor pets are kept safely within the home. The same goes for areas where materials may be stored and accessed by the workers.
- Try your best to envision your remodeling project as a progression—not a disturbance—by making a pictorial of the entire process. Taking before, during and after photos can give you a sense of moving forward toward the home of your dreams.
For a reliable source of supplies, painters, builders, interior designers, furnishings, appliances—and even places to eat or venues for entertainment while your remodeling is being done—check out VISITvortex.com for many reputable service providers. And for a great article about remodeling—“The Five C’s in Value”—visit robertgeorgedesigngroup.com and click on the red stop sign. Rodney and Geri Plimpton wrote The Five C’s because of their experience with Robert George Design Group, which showed them how important it is to plan ahead.