Plan Your Approach
Before calling a company, it’s important to decide what type of services you’re looking for. Mina Fies, CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, developed a renovation road map that lays out the pros and cons of a variety of approaches—from DIY to full-service design-build firms—to help you decide on the best route. Chris Arnold, vice president of business development for Foster Remodeling Solutions, warns that taking matters into your own hands comes with a higher risk. “When you do it yourself or if you hire individuals, you are assuming all liability on the project,” he says.
Develop Your Vision
Once you’ve nailed down the plan of attack, consider your vision for the project. “I always ask people to think about their daily life flow,” says Todd Carter, CEO of Tailored Living. Thinking about how you plan to use the finished product can help identify what solutions will suit your needs. Bobby Lewis, vice president of marketing for Meadows Farms Nurseries & Landscapes, says it’s a good idea to look to design publications and other homes for inspiration.
Take it Slow
Financial concerns are at the top of most homeowners’ minds, so it pays off to sort out the details up front so you’re not blindsided halfway through. Fies says cost overruns are most often caused by jumping into a project without proper planning. “If you don’t rush the process and you take the time in design, then you shouldn’t have those change orders.” Fies recommends requesting a trade walk-through, where each of the craftsmen survey the job to provide an accurate estimate. In addition to this, her firm does a thorough physical investigation—even inserting a camera to look inside any walls they plan to demolish—before going to contract. However, the reality is that it’s still a good idea to have a buffer of 5 to 10 percent built into your budget.
Communicate with your Contractor
Another way to avoid surprises is by openly communicating with your contractor. Fies suggests having a pre-construction or demolition meeting. Ask about everything from workers’ schedules to the best method for getting in touch with your project manager.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Finally, homeowners often forget about the emotional disruptions that can be caused by a renovation. “They don’t really set themselves up that it is going to be a roller coaster for both them and their family,” Fies says. To minimize the impact, make a plan for the construction period. “We help people identify another room in their home to set up for whatever that room is that’s going to be gone,” she says. The same goes for pets. “Relocate [the cat’s] pillow into that pseudo-family room so they can start getting used to it,” she adds.