Let’s face it, remodeling is something most homeowners don’t do everyday. Since both the overall process and the individual steps you must take to reach your goal are new, most homeowners rely on the guiding hand of their contractor to ease them through the process. But what isn't your contractor telling you? There are many nuggets of wisdom contractors have gleaned over the years that they desperately want to share with clients. Here are just a few pieces of advice that we've given to clients and heard from colleagues over the years.
Do what needs to be done first – even if it’s not sexy. Sure you may want to focus on completely renovating your 70s era kitchen so it’s the envy of every Food Network star. However, if the subfloor under your cabinets is compromised, your new kitchen will be falling like a stale soufflé unless you first address the underlying structural issues. Find a professional contractor whom you trust and then ask them which repairs your home needs before you begin to put in the features you crave.
Don’t work without a net. All too often, homeowners budget for the winning bid’s bottom line. The reality of renovation projects is that they sometimes cost more. Reasons can include anything from hidden structural issues to the homeowner falling madly in love with a newly released floor tile that costs twice what was originally budgeted. If you build in a contingency fund on the front end, any unforeseen circumstances or fortuitous finds can be addressed with far less anxiety.
Don’t procrastinate. You've heard that time is money, and nowhere does that statement ring more true than in home renovation projects. The more quickly you make those seemingly innocuous decisions like which kitchen faucet you want, the sooner those pieces can be ordered and a timeline for their efficient installation established. Delays in decision making – not to mention change orders – will push your schedule back. This adds to labor costs if tradespeople show up to work and then have to be rescheduled if all the pieces aren't available for them to do their job. It can potentially escalate your housing costs, too, if you are renting instead of living in your home during the renovation.
Don’t get too close. Renovations can be long processes, and you can get to know individual tradespeople quite well. While professional communication is essential, having long, personal conversations with tradespeople only prevents them from doing the work that you have paid them to do. Likewise, children and pets should not get too comfortable around workers. While a professional contractor will make every effort to accommodate your family members and pets, remember that your home is now a construction zone, complete with potentially dangerous tools and scenarios. To keep them out of harm’s way, keep your loved ones and animals away from the work site.