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Remodeling University: Getting Ready for a Large Remodeling Project

You selected your general contractor, you have your new home plan, the permits for your major remodeling project were ‘pulled’ and a start date has been secured for the work. Congratulations! Are you now ready for the project to begin? Read on.

When all the ‘big stuff’ is out of the way (selecting an architect or a design/build firm, getting the design you want and can afford, securing financing for the project and getting the plans approved by the city, by the HOA and others) – when all of this is done, there are still things you must do for your project to be a success. Embarking on a major remodeling project can be likened embarking on an adventure trip to an off-the-beaten-path destination. Much like you’d prepare differently for an African safari that for a Disney World vacation, so you should prepare differently for a major remodeling project as compare to some minor work in your home.

Here are some of the issues you need to consider:
1. Can you stay in the home: go over the planned work and work-sequence with your builder. Can your family stay in the house during the work? Could your family relocate to a section of the house not worked on (or worked on during a different phase of the project)? These decisions need to be arrived at in concert with the builder.
2. Can you stay in the home: beyond the physical aspect of the question you should consider the other aspects as well. Do you have small children that might wonder off into unsafe work zones? Is your family’s temperament is such that members of the family can take the significant discomfort associated with the house being in an upheaval for weeks on end? The noise? The disruptions to power and water service during work hours? The pervasive dust?
3. Would the home’s content (furniture, furnishings, etc.) need to be removed/stored?
4. If you must get out of the house, will you be out for one long stretch of time? For the entire duration of the work? Or maybe you could leave intermittently for shorter spells, as the work progresses?
5. If both your family and the home’s content need to be out of the home, do you know how much this would cost? Did you budget for it?

As you work your way through these issues remember that ultimately there would be a trade-off between the family’s comfort and the family’s sanity (and costs). Try to find your equilibrium.
Here are some tips:
1. Here too, your selection of a competent and reliable general contractor is imperative. With a top-tier home builder the completion date should be a known and a given. Something you can and should rely upon. When this is the case, you can find less costly accommodations. When you know exactly how many weeks you are renting a place for you can avoid committing for longer periods ‘just in case’ – saving on rent.
2. Instead of packing the whole content and having a moving company pick it up, store and than reset it when work is done, which would be very costly, consider this alternative; First, see if there is a room in the house that could be used for storage. A room that is not majorly affected by the planned project might qualify. Have all the family pack the ‘little’ items over time, to lighten the work load. Than ask your builder to provide a couple of guys for a day or two for the heavy items. We provide this service gratis to all our clients. Your contractor should be able to do the same. Whatever won’t fit in the ‘storage room’ might fit in a storage bin. Get one and use it. Remember to coordinate that with your builder so that this bin is not in the way and does not take the room planned for the roll-off needed for the construction debris.
3. This is a great time to get rid of junk. Get a roll-off (your contractor might be able to get one for a better price) and fill it with all the items you no longer need. Think “what would I want to bring back into my new home when work is done?” – everything else should be donated or disposed of. Almost without exception, I see homeowners paying to store items for the work’s duration only to throw them away at completion because they no longer seem appropriate for the newly done home.
4. Make sure your storage bin is water tight. A leak would destroy the contents.
5. Some homeowners plan long trips to coincide with their remodeling work. This way they are out of the way, and no alternative lodgings are needed to be arranged. Consider this only if you have a top-tier, completely trust worthy builder and if you feel comfortable empowering your builder (or someone else, such as your architect or your designer) to make decisions for you.
6. Prepare yourself mentally: You are about to embark on a significant new endeavor. One that would require many decisions, would tax your patience and one that can potentially get out of control in terms of costs, time and legal issues (did I mention it is important to select a builder that is competent, experienced, trust worthy and reliable yet – as opposed to those who’s main attraction is that they are seemingly cheap?). So, prepare yourself mentally; take a deep ‘mental breath’ and develop a positive mindset. Predispose yourself to consider the coming months as an adventure and a learning experience and promise yourself to take everything in stride. Try to be a positive member of the project’s team and remember that as the homeowner and the purse holder you are actually the boss.

You are now ready to break ground. Happy remodeling!

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