Friday, January 7, 2011

Ten Tips Everyone Should Know Before Remodeling

Time is ripe for remodeling! There are great contractors out there looking for work and eager to jump on a project. Take advantage of this opportunity to get good value and good quality workmanship for your money. If you've been thinking about remodeling, now is a great time! I've compiled a list of ten tips that everyone should know before they start a remodel in their home. There are many more, but these seem to always come up as something my clients should know and that I should always review with them before they begin.

1) Plan your project carefully! Spending two months planning and designing your new master bath, kitchen, etc., is critical for getting the smoothest possible construction period and the best price and value for your money. Taking time to lay out the function of the room, select your finishes and fixtures, and design all the details that will make your room work and look the way you want will give you peace of mind once the construction begins and will give contractors a concrete idea of what to price out. The more vague the plan and product selections are, the less accurate your pricing will be. I see so many homeowners that call in several contractors right off the bat to give them pricing on remodeling and with no selections and just some verbal direction given, there's no way you will really be able to compare their pricing. Hiring a competent interior designer to help you in this phase is an expense that pays for itself in the long run!

2. Be realistic about a schedule. I've had clients that come to me with very unrealistic expectations about the time it takes to do a remodel. It doesn't matter if you are doing a powder bath or a large kitchen, you have to go through the same steps with the same sub-contractors. If you are doing a total gut on a kitchen or bath, a minimum of 8 weeks should be allowed and if you are adding in some unique features, special products, or rearranging everything, you should allow more time. I've seen homeowners expecting things to be finished in 2 weeks! Real life isn't HGTV!

3. Order your plumbing fixtures, appliances, lighting, and finish products before you start construction. Most contractors do this but if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you will see why right away. Some products have long lead times, electricians and plumbers need to know where to locate lighting and electrical in the walls when they are opened up at the beginning of the project, and cabinetry cannot be built or ordered until exact appliance dimensions are specified. Until you buy the product, you can always change your mind and clients have been known to do that. :)

4. Remember if you are doing a bathroom remodel to order the accessories when you order your plumbing products. Most plumbing showrooms know to ask this, but it's good to go ahead and order the towel bars, towel rings, toilet paper holder, hooks, tank lever, etc. when you order your fixtures. We always try to match the accessories with the fixtures and if you wait they might be backordered or out of stock.

5. Prepare for the inconvenience. For a kitchen remodel, plan a temporary kitchen somewhere in the house with a microwave or hotplate available. Do not plan on sleeping in your bedroom during a master bath remodel. The dust is everywhere in this vicinity of your home and if you leave the furniture in the room during the remodel, cover your bed with heavy plastic drop cloths to keep the dust out of the mattress. All clothing should be removed from dressers and other furniture. Empty your closet in a master bath remodel. Again, the dust gets everywhere, in all your clothing, etc. It can creep inside drawers and into plastic bins. If you must leave things in the closet, put items in plastic bins and then cover the bins with plastic drop cloths.

6. Have the contractors use the the exterior door that is closest and most accessible, then make sure the path is totally covered with drop cloths that will stand up to the test of time. Watch out about taping paper down to the floor. Some tapes leave a sticky residue that is impossible to get off or will peel up a finish after being down for two months. Remove any miscellaneous furniture or accessories that might be close to this path. A plumber coming in with your new tub might bump into something. It's just better to have these areas as clear as possible for the duration.

7. Remember that contractors are people too. They have needs like stopping for breaks and going to the bathroom. It's nice to have a bathroom in the house they can use and if you tell them about it up front they are always grateful. Then they don't have to ask or leave work to go up to the gas station.

8. Know that there will not always be someone at your house working on your project every minute of the day. People get anxious when there is no one at the house working, but trust me it doesn't mean your contractor has forgotten you. If subcontractors are scheduled too tightly then if one takes a bit longer to finish it throws the whole schedule off. It's better to have a little time between subs and give them space to do their work. They don't like working on top of each other and I believe it is a good idea to keep your contractors happy when they are working in your house.

9. Remember to allow 10% extra in your budget for unexpected expenses. It is almost surely to be spent. Remodels are full of unexpected surprises and if you are mentally prepared for that and have budgetd properly, you will handle them with much lower blood pressure. This is just the nature of the beast.

10. Trust your contractor with the key to your house. I know this is hard for most people, but if he's insured and reputable, this will make the "waiting for workers to arrive or leave" annoyance disappear. I find this to be the most irritating of all for clients. They can't understand how the tile guy can be 45 minutes late! First of all the tile guy or any other worker on the job is not on your schedule. They may be working between several jobs, have a crew elsewhere and need to check on them, need to pick up supplies, etc. Usually they get delayed because their work on other jobs is delayed or is taking them longer to finish up. This is another one of those "the nature of the beast" things. They need access to your job when they are ready to work on it and if you want your project finished in a timely manner and you are a busy person who doesn't like sitting around the house all day long, this will give you some freedom.

11. Okay, one more tip....relax! Remodels are an adventure that can be enjoyable. You have a front row seat to a fascinating show. If you've selected good people to work with, you will find yourself involved in a unique learning experience that will enrich your life and open your eyes. Whether it's interacting with the workers, learning about construction techniques, or just shopping for all the beautiful products to go in your home, a remodel project can a fun and exciting experience!

If you'd like to start your own remodel with the perfect plan, contact Aston Design Studio today!


Cathi Taraboi said...

Excellent blog post, Carla! Very interesting and informative! Thanks for sharing!!

Beth said...

Really great post! Such helpful tips. Wow. I need to save this so I can refer later. The pictures help!

Enjoying your blog!


Donna said...

My husband and I did all this when we lived in a 1926 home in Pittsburgh, PA. Although it came out the way we wanted to and of course looked great, what a nightmare! The current home we have now in NC was brand, spanking new - no fixing, just painting. Great tips.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

So many great tips. A lot of people have no idea what they are getting into when they start a project. It is usually so much more than they planned for.Great Blog glad I found it.

Kellie Collis said...

Brilliant! These are really wonderful tips! Enjoy the lovely weekend, Kellie xx

SusieQ said...

These comments are right on....for someone who has worked for a contractor and also gone thru a major bathroom remodel I should know!!
So many people just don't realize what goes into a major remodel and have unrealistic expectations of the project while in progress.....

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