Your home represents a big investment — perhaps the largest of your lifetime. Safeguard and update your property with careful planning of home remodeling projects to make sure they add value, comfort and safety to your home.
Start With A List Of Needs And Desires
Before you launch into a major remodeling project, walk around your home and property, then sit down and make a list of shortcomings … structural issues, overdue maintenance tasks, safety concerns and inconveniences. Next, make a list of “wish list” projects … remodeling ideas or luxury installations you’ve always wanted for your home.
Look for synergies within each list. Often you’ll find that items on your luxury “wish list” are much less expensive when undertaken as part of a more prudent maintenance upgrade. For example, a Jacuzzi installation in your master bath might not return enough in resale value to make it a solid investment on its own, but if your existing bath tub is cracked and leaking anyway, the difference in price between the Jacuzzi and a conventional tub replacement will make your “luxury” upgrade much more reasonable.
With this strategy in mind, work your lists of needs and desires into a single, prioritized remodeling plan.
Building Codes And Permits
Never undertake a major remodeling project without first researching the building code requirements in your area. Building codes and permitting requirements can vary considerably from one community to another, but as a general rule a building permit is probably required when structural work is involved, or when the basic living area of a residence is to be changed.
The details respecting required permits in your area are readily available from your local township or boro office. A quick web search may save steps and provide you with a printed copy for your planning record. Reputable home improvement business representatives can also help you determine whether or not a home remodeling project will require permits and inspection.
Plan Financing Well In Advance
It’s usually best to save up cash in advance for your home remodeling projects, but if you budget carefully and shop for financing, interest rates can be factored in to other remodeling project expenses and evaluated accordingly. Talk to lenders in advance and make sure you understand all of the terms of a financing agreement before you take the plunge.
Local realtors and online real estate resources can be helpful in determining what value, if any, your remodeling project will add to your home over time. Factor your findings into any financing decisions you’re considering.
Select Qualified Remodeling Assistance
Many home improvement and home remodeling projects fall comfortably within the do-it-yourself realm. But larger projects, even those that aren’t so complex, can often be overwhelming. Check your skill set and your schedule before undertaking a remodeling project to make sure you have both the know-how and the time to see it through to completion. If you have any doubts, considering enlisting the help of a qualified remodeling contractor.
Choose a contractor with an established place of business, preferably in your locality. Ask for and check references, and observe each contractor carefully as he or she “sizes up” your home improvement or home remodeling project. If they’re not asking many questions, there’s no way they can adequately estimate the cost of your remodeling project.
Lists of accredited contractors are available from industry organizations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). These organizations can also offer guidance as to how much bonding and insurance is adequate for the type of project you’re preparing to undertake.
Once you’ve chosen a remodeling contractor, make sure you get a written agreement that explains “exactly” what you will get for your money. Don’t sign a contract until you are both in complete agreement on critical details like scheduling, quality of materials and workmanship.
Living With A Remodeling Project
Once you’ve selected the best contractor for your project and scheduled a start date, prepare your home–and yourself–for what’s about to come. Keep in mind that unreasonable expectations will always lead to dissapointment, and no project has ever been completed to perfection.
Expect the unexpected. Late deliveries, strikes, shipment shortages, wrong parts, oversights, rain, changes, etc. are all par for the course in a major remodeling project. Monitor progress and maintain constant communication with your contractor, but be reasonable. Some delays are inevitable, and many are beyond the contractors control.
Keep things in perspective. Don’t expect perfection, but do expect good work. For example, built-ins won’t have a furniture like finish unless you’ve specified and are willing to pay furniture finishing prices. A paint drop isn’t the end of the world, but a paint trail leading down the hallway should be pointed out by you, and made right by your contractor promptly.
Protect your belongings. Dust and dirt from demolition and construction activities is unavoidable, but you can minimize the impact by covering everything possible, keeping doors closed and sealing off construction areas with plastic sheeting. Dirt and dust will be a fact of life until your project is completed, but your contractor should make efforts to keep work areas as clean as possible throughout the project.
Stay calm and flexible. Time clocking workmen simply builds resentment. Try to understand the difficulties of managing a project inside someone else’s home, and remember that some inconvenience is to be expected. Plan to be without water or power at various stages in a project, and remember that your contractor is as anxious as you are to finish the job.