It’s easy to get excited about renovating your kitchen, enlarging a bath, or adding a new media room to your home. Once you’ve made the decision, it’s only natural to want to jump right in and get started. But, acting on impulse without doing the proper preparation, can cause you a lot of time, money, and headaches. The following are 7 preliminary steps you should take before you start tearing out walls or signing up contractors.
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Top 7 Things to Do Before Starting a Remodeling Project
Define Your Budget
Before you begin to decide, “what you will do”, you must know “what you can pay for”. Determine how much cash you have on hand, and how much of it you are willing to invest in the project. If you are planning to finance all or part of the work; investigate the possible sources of financing and be sure that you qualify. It’s always advisable to set aside a contingency fund for unexpected expenses and cost overages. Don’t waste time and effort developing a scope of work that you can’t afford to do.
Write Your Scope of Work
A scope of work is, simply, a list of things you would like included in your project. Initially, a rough draft can be a broad sort of wish list. Include everything you would really like if it was feasible and you could afford it. Then, as you further research the project, you can change, delete or add items until you’ve got a final scope. A detailed scope of work will be a valuable tool in estimating costs, selecting contractors, and many other areas.
Research Materials and Finishes
The types of materials and finishes you choose for your project will determine the cost, the different trades you’ll need, the final cosmetic appearance, and the long term durability of the finished project. Such things as paints, wall coverings, plumbing and light fixtures, and flooring are huge decisions in the process.
It’s important that you learn as much as you can about the advantages and disadvantages of each one to insure you make the best possible choice for your needs. Choices that may work great for singles or young couples aren’t practical for couples with children. Low priced items may appear to save you money initially, but cost you more in the long run because of durability. There is no “one size fits all” approach to home improvement.
When you’re making large purchases, which you usually are in remodeling; it’s crucial that you educate yourself on the market. Make phone calls to suppliers and retailers to check on material pricing. Ask friends or relatives, who have done similar projects, how much they paid. Do some searching on the web. There are many ways to get a rough idea of the going rate for the different phases of the job and any information you come up with will help in determining your budget, negotiating with contractors, and protecting yourself against scams.
You may decide to add a second story to your garage, only to find out it’s prohibited by dead restrictions or building codes. Your bathroom expansion may involve expensive re-plumbing of the house. Before getting too far along; check into the building codes, consult with contractors and suppliers, possibly an architect to determine if it’s actually feasible (and legal) to do the work. This may save you time and money.
Develop A Project Management Strategy
Remodeling is a complex and time-consuming job. It’s important to determine, early on, how you will get the job done. Things you should consider include:Will you manage or do some or all of the work yourself or use a general contractor and/or subcontractors?, Can you actually find the time to oversee the work?
Will doing some of the work yourself interfere with other trades and slow the progress of the job?, Who will be responsible for buying and shipping materials and supplies?, and How much time must be allotted for the project? These are all crucial decisions that will affect the overall success of your job. It’s important that you take a hard look at all possibilities before determining your strategy.
Compile A List of Potential Contractors
Unless you are extremely talented and have lots of spare time; chances are you’ll need contractors for your job. To insure you find qualified professionals at competitive prices; put together a list of candidates using referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers. You can also call some from the phone book or television and radio adds. The more you talk to, the better your chances of making the right decision. Start with a large group and pare it down through interviews and research.
Completing these 7 steps will help make the remodeling process the pleasant experience that it should be rather than a nightmare that you’ll regret for years. The extra work you do in the beginning; will pay big dividends later.