What Are the Steps in a Home Renovation?
Renovations are part of home ownership, whether you’re looking for an opportunity to raise your property values for a resale or you’re trying to renovate a run-down property to make extra cash.
Renovating can be exciting, but careful planning and preparation are essential. Here are the beginning steps to any good renovation project.
Set Your Budget
The process of determining your budget may vary depending on your methods of calculation, but most people create an estimate of their costs, determine how much money they have to spend, get quotes from contractors, and prioritize their projects accordingly.
“The biggest consideration is pinning down decisions and selecting materials and finishings before the job begins. That gets you to a reliable budget,” says Tom Miller, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in Oregon.
Getting accurate quotes can take time and expertise. You probably can’t expect a free quote from contractors because it can take hours for them to determine a price, so factor that in that cost.
Most importantly, Miller recommends adding 10 to 15 percent of cash to your budget just in case of unexpected expenses.
“You don’t know what you’re going to find before you start tearing down walls,” he says. “Electrical work may not have been done to code. There could be asbestos or mold hiding behind plaster. You just don’t know. If you don’t spend the extra money, you can put it toward furnishings.”
Once you have your budget in place, resist the temptation to add things if you’re not willing to sacrifice others. Stick to your set budget, even if it means tackling small tasks yourself or simply refacing rather than replacing older items.
Draft a Plan
A plan helps you keep your budget and complete the renovation in a timely manner. You might want to jump right in and get your hands dirty, but remember that it’s much cheaper and less stressful to correct mistakes and anticipate problems at the beginning than it is to deal with them later.
A good plan starts with your budget and funding options. Then, create a potential list of contractors and subcontractors and apply for any necessary building permits. You can learn more about building permits by contacting your city government.
Next, make a list of all projects you’d like to complete. Consider important structural elements like the roof, foundation, siding, windows, plumbing, and electricity. HVAC system ductwork, insulation, drywall, painting, flooring, and other finishes should also be on your list. You won’t be able to complete all items on your list, so consider putting a yes or no next to those slated for the current project.
Finally, create a schedule detailing which projects will be completed when. Choose a time when you can handle a renovation. If you have too many responsibilities during your selected time, you’ll have a difficult time juggling everything.
A schedule also helps your contractor. If they know when the project needs to be completed, they can prioritize projects and work more quickly if necessary. Keep in mind that contractors may require a flexible schedule, especially if they have other jobs.
Hire a General Contractor
With your budget set and plan in hand, it’s time to start shopping for a good contractor. Don’t take this job lightly. Many people have wnightmare stories to tell about contractors doing a poor job and overcharging severely.
“It can be difficult to hire contractors and know what you’re getting,” Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List told USNews. “You’re spending a lot of money, and you’re dealing with your home. If they do it wrong, there can be a whole lot of heartache.”
Finding the right contractor is tough, but essential. Hicks says to follow a few rules.
Have your plan and budget ready. You shouldn’t talk to contractors until you have your plan and ideas in hand. Once that’s set up, call around to get an accurate estimate for the cost of labor and materials.
Interview at least three contractors. Ask questions about what’s most important to you, including costs, amount of labor, materials, and more before making your final decision.
Ask your friends and family for references on great contractors in your area. Remember that busy contractors are usually considered the best, so don’t expect them to be able to start right away.
You can negotiate price and scheduling. If your contractor’s suggestion isn’t to your liking, ask for a change.
Sign a contract. Carefully look over the contract once you’ve chosen a contractor. Everything you agreed on should be documented. Watch for hidden fees, but keep in mind that surprises may come up and could alter your contract.
Don’t make the final payment until they’re done. Some contractors have a notorious habit of doing 90 percent of the job, but failing to complete the last portion. If you’ve already paid them in full, they may not come back. Most homeowners don’t think it’s worth taking them to court for a few hundred dollars, so they get away with it.
Your general contractor will do most of the structural work, but they won’t do everything. They may hire subcontractors to perform some jobs, or you can hire them yourself. Here’s a list of subcontractors you might come across during your renovation.
Swimming Pool Contractors: These professionals will handle all updates, installations, or replacements of your in-ground pool. Research a swimming pool contractor in New Jersey or in your state to find a qualified professional for the job.
Landscapers: Any updates to the yard and property will likely be done by a landscaping contractor. They’ll take care of plants, hardscaping, deck-work, water features, and gardening.
Cabinetmakers: If you’re renovating your kitchen, you’ll probably get a cabinetmaker to build your cabinets separately. You might also need a local granite distributor if you’re adding granite countertops.
Electrician and Plumber: Many general contractors prefer to have experts in both plumbing and electricity handle this portion of the renovation. Electricity and plumbing lines can be quite complex, and mishandling them can turn into a huge and even dangerous mess.
Roofers: Some general contractors will repair or replace your roof, but many prefer to hire outside contractors. Research roofing services in your area to choose a good contractor for the job.
HVAC Contractor: Updates, repairs, and replacements to your HVAC system should be handled by a certified HVAC contractor. They’ll handle ductwork and system installation.
You might need other types of contractors, but these are the most likely. If you allow your general contractor to hire subcontractors for you, screen each company carefully to make sure they’ll do a good job on your project.
After getting your budget, plan, and contractors in place, you’ll be ready for the most entertaining part of your project: demolition. Many homeowners enjoy helping with this portion of the renovation project because it can be fun to tear things apart and it helps save costs on labor.
Be prepared for the dust and debris, however. It’s a very dirty business, and many homeowners find they can’t live in their home during the process because of the mess. If you don’t think you can handle it, make arrangements to stay elsewhere.
With a proper plan in place and contingencies for unexpected repairs, the rest of the renovation can be handled by the expert contractors you’ve selected. It’s time for you to sit back and rest easy, knowing that you’ve done everything you can and you’re well on your way to a beautiful update.