Updated: Dec 24, 2019
A home remodel project can be as simple as giving a minor face lift to your living room with a fresh coat of paint and stepping up the floor or as involved as adding a porch and indoor pool. Remodelling of any scale is a challenging task but they do have common elements. Having a good idea of the cost involved, how long will the project last, and understanding whether you can do some or all the work can keep nasty surprises to a minimum.
To save time, money, and stress when you’re ready to remodel, make sure you consider these
10 tips before hammers start swinging.
Make a wish list
Most homeowners don’t have an unlimited remodelling budget. Start with your dream list, in one column; put your wants, in other your needs. That way, when faced with tough choices down the line, you’ll have a clearer picture of your priorities—what has to happen now and what can wait. (A second bathroom might be a must; a stainless steel Viking range, maybe not so much.)
Begin looking for a contractor
This isn’t the time to flip through the Yellow Pages. Ask your friends and people you know in the area for references. Talk to them about their experiences, god and bad. Information from homeowners who have been in your shoes can be invaluable in the planning process.
Start interviewing contractors and get quotes
Once you have a potential list of contractors, start making calls and interview them, obtain rough quotes for the jobs listed. It’s helpful to get at least three quotes to see how drastic the variation in pricing may be from company to company.
If you’re feeling unsure, here’s how to find a good contractor to help.
Ask for reference
Any good contractor will have no problem providing references before a job begins. Don’t rely solely on client testimonials, In addition call and ask whether the clients were satisfied with quality and cost. Ask to see before and after images of a contractor’s prior work, and most importantly—trust your gut and know which questions to ask.
Determine your budget.
Knowing your budget—and sticking to it—is one of the most important parts of remodel planning. Remember to add in a contingency fund for any unexpected costs—and expect to use it—as well as incidental costs like the cost of eating out for a kitchen remodel, or even taking a hotel for a night or two.
Know which tasks you can safely handle, and which should be handled by the pros, like a potentially load-bearing wall, flooring or plumbing.
Consult the calendar.
What is your timeline for the remodel? If you’re hoping for a brand new home for a particular occasion or holiday, make sure you look at your end date and work your way backward. Likewise, you won’t want to install a new roof in July rains — or schedule any major demolition a month before a wedding. Be sure to pencil in a few weeks to a month at the end as contingency in case there are delays, just so you can avoid disappointment.
Examine the fine print of the contract.
Small interior remodelling projects usually don’t require a permit if you’re not going to change part of the structure, but it’s a different story on your home's exterior. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and if ignored local authorities can rip down non-conforming work. Also this can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road.
It’s always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed.
Plan a Free Zone
For a smooth process of remodel, pack up or move any items in the remodel zone.
Select a room that will remain relatively untouched by the chaos and equip it with whatever you might need to keep yourself sane for the duration. For a whole-home remodel, consider renting an offsite locker to keep all your belongings secure during the process.
Financing the Project
Getting your financials in place before beginning is important as well. Banks might want a copy of the project plans and a ballpark cost before making a construction loan. Talking to your banker to before spending any money on an architect to find out the feasibility of obtaining the loan is a good idea but don’t expect the bank to approve the final loan until all the costs are in.