Planning a Home Remodeling Project

Every house has something that could be improved or just isn’t the way you as a homeowner would like it to look.

And with warmer weather and tax refund checks on the way, spring is a great time to plan for home remodeling.

Whether it’s something as small as installing closet organizers or something as big as a major kitchen or bathroom remodel, there are a few basic planning steps you need to consider before diving into any project.

Read on to learn how to start your home remodeling project off on the right foot so that the time and money you invest to improve your home is well spent!

Start with Sketches and Drawings

Whether you intend to use an architect or interior designer or plan to do a project yourself, start by sketching your out ideas and thoughts. Look at pictures online, in magazines and books or visit local designer showrooms to get as many ideas for your project as possible.

Use a notebook where you can sketch, paste drawings and photos you find and jot down notes to yourself. Keeping a notebook will help inspire your imagination and jog your memory later on in the project.

One thing people oftentimes forget is the affect that improving one room or area in a home will have on the house overall; adding a room impacts traffic patterns, updating the kitchen to modern decor may clash with the adjacent country style family room, adding a bathroom may alter the floor plan and traffic patterns adversely, and so on. Be sure to consider how your intended project affects the entirety of your home.

If you are looking to save money, you can purchase inexpensive home design software. But if you are adding a room or making structural changes, you would be well advised to consult an architect or contractor.

Gain from the Experience of Others

The Internet is a great way to learn about various home improvement projects, ask for advice on forums, look for photos and videos that show how others completed their own projects, as well as to get ideas from experts and industry professionals.

Rafter Tales is dedicated to helping you learn about home improvement, decorating, design and do it yourself projects, so be sure to search or browse our site for thousands of great (and free!) ideas.

Visit home improvement centers, talk to local contractors and designers, friends and neighbors to exhaust the possibilities while you are preparing and planning a home remodeling project.

Thinking Ahead

Home remodeling and construction projects are all about managing the details; ordering materials, scheduling subcontractors, arranging for building permits and inspections all in the correct sequence are the keys to a successful remodeling project.

Be prepared to take time off from work and clear your calendar during the project if you want to complete it on schedule and budget. Be sure you know all the details and sequence of steps required to complete the project in order to correctly estimate the time, cost and effort it will take!

Think about how long you plan to stay in your current home to be sure the project makes financial sense and that you will be adequately rewarded for your efforts and enjoyment of the resulting improvements made to your home.

Consider also how the investment will affect your home’s resale value; some projects, like updating a bathroom or installing new flooring add curb appeal and value, while others, like decorating the living room in ornate Victorian style, with faux paint and ornate crown molding when the home’s architecture is modern or Spanish style could actually decrease the value of your home.

Estimating and Budget Considerations

In the majority of cases, remodeling projects end up taking longer and costing more than the homeowner has estimated. While you may want to use marble or granite flooring in your foyer remodeling project, the cost of the materials and labor may not be in line with your budget, so be sure to check around with several contractors and suppliers so that you understand all the costs associated with your project.

The cause of most cost overruns tends to be overlooking details, which leads to unforeseen expenses. For example, if you plan to replace your thirty year-old wood or aluminum frame windows with new, energy efficient, dual pane, vinyl windows, have you considered the expense of related details like installing new trim, paint and window treatments?

Assembling a Team

For simple projects, you may be able to complete a project entirely on your own. But for most large remodeling projects, the specialized skills of subcontractors like plumber, electricians and drywallers will be required.

Be realistic about your skills and what work you can complete yourself versus which things you really ought to hire out to professionals.

Contractors can be notorious for running behind schedule or overcharging, so finding trustworthy subs is typically a frustrating process for most first time do-it-yourself homeowners.

Always get quotes from several contractors for any given aspect of the project and be sure to check references. Also, if you find one or two professionals you like working with and come to trust, ask them for referrals to other local contractors they have found reliable.

Also, when you negotiate with subcontractors and designers, always insist on the lowest up front deposits possible; even if you find a low bid from a contractor you think is reputable, if he asks for a large deposit you could find yourself in trouble.

All quotes and contracts should be written and clearly spell out the scope of services to be performed and estimated costs. If possible, try to get a “not to exceed” clause in your contracts. This will help you negotiate from a position of strength later if the contractor runs into unforeseen problems that he should have been aware of and tries to up charge you on the job.

And under no circumstances should you pay a contractor in full prior to satisfactory completion of the work!

Permits and Inspections

Most remodeling projects involving structural changes will require a building permit, which is intended to ensure that you follow the local building codes and regulations correctly. It also helps ensure that your subcontractors don’t cut corners.

If you are acting as your own general contractor, then you will be responsible for filing the paperwork and arranging for any required building inspections your local building regulations may specify, so be sure you understand what is involved ahead of starting the project.

Be Prepared to Encounter Challenges

Remodeling projects are bound to present challenges, delays, material shortages, equipment failures and other delays, so it’s best to have the right mind set going into a project.

If you know that unexpected problems will arise and remind yourself not to get too upset when they do, you’ll be far more prepared to take them in stride and go about finding the solution rather than beating your head against the wall in frustration.

Most experienced general contractors even build a contingency factor of, perhaps 10%, into their scheduling and budget plans on large projects.
With a little patience and forethought, you can plan your home remodeling project to be a success, with the dream you started out with becoming a reality in short order.

As you learn and grow by starting with simpler projects, you will begin to see that managing larger and more complex home improvement jobs is easily within reach!

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