Published April 17, 2013
If you’re planning on tackling a major renovation project in the near future, here are some tips to make sure you’re getting what you want.
Excited to get their new kitchen or bathroom, many homeowners rush in without proper planning. Failing to take care of the nitty-gritty details up front can turn your project into a renovation disaster, taking much more time and costing much more money than you expected.
With a tool like Autodesk’s Homestyler you can build a 3D model of your home and test out various renovation ideas, giving you a good idea of what the project will look like before you start tearing down walls. By visualizing your project, you’ll be able to make a list of everything you want to change, which will help keep you on budget and on schedule down the road.
To help with the planning process, you might also consider hiring an architect. An architect can help you work through your ideas and put together a plan that fits your budget, and can also make sure the contractor executes the plan properly.
Staying on Budget
Sometimes cost increases are out of your control. If a contractor finds that the wiring in the kitchen isn’t up to code and needs to be replaced, that’s just an extra cost that you’ll have to accept. But often, cost increases are the result of homeowners changing their minds mid-project.
Over the course of the project, you’ll have to make dozens of decisions -- from small items like picking out door knobs, to bigger costs like flooring material. Your builder might offer you slightly more expensive upgrades, which, while tempting, can quickly start to add up. Get a price list for materials in advance, figure out what you can afford and stick to it. To help you stay on top of things, use an app like HomeZada, which allows you to log project costs and work out a budget for a project in advance.
Staying on Schedule
There are some things you can do to make sure the project gets done quickly. First, make sure the materials you want are actually available. You may have your heart set on a particular bathroom tile, but if there’s a six-week backorder, it’s only going to cause massive delays and possibly added costs. So talk with your builder in advance to make sure all the materials will be there from day one.
Next, you’ll want to figure out your permit situation well in advance. Rather than getting caught up during construction in red tape that can drag on for weeks, have all the necessary paperwork filled out before you start the project. Ask your contractor or architect what sort of permits they expect to need on the project and what you need to do to get them sorted out.
Finally, make sure the project manager or architect is going to be onsite every day. Many will show up at the beginning of a project, delegate the work and then not show up until the final walkthrough. This could be a recipe for disaster, so make sure you know who is calling the shots onsite and insist that they be there every day or, at least, on a very regular schedule. If you’re living elsewhere during the remodeling job, you’ll also want to make sure to visit very frequently, if not every day. That way, when issues arise, they can get sorted out quickly.
Once a project is in full swing, maintaining good communication between a homeowner and the builder is key. Fortunately, there are some great online tools for renovation projects that can keep you and your contractor or architect on the same page. PlanGrid and OnSite PlanRoom are project management systems for mobile devices that allow you to view and modify blueprints, add comments or request changes. When a project leader makes a change to the plans or someone runs into a problem, you get an update, keeping you on top of the project from wherever you are.