Ask the Expert – How do I plan a remodeling project?
This article was originally published in the June 2021 Bedford Living Magazine.
With the lack of availability of homes on the market and a growing desire to expand and improve, more and more people are deciding to stay put and modify what they have. Every week we have conversations with people considering all types of projects; additions, kitchen and bath remodels, finishing basements, detached buildings, outdoor living, and a host of other home modifications. Most of these conversations include something like “We love our house and location, we cannot seem to find any homes for sale that we like better, so we have decided to stay and make some changes.” Wonderful decision, but what is next?
Where to begin?
One of the most important first steps is to determine an initial cost range for whatever scope or project type you are considering. Although the end goal is a written and clearly defined scope with a fixed price, you need to start somewhere. Without plan and details this initial cost range is typically based on other similar projects or historical averages. It provides a starting point to determine if the project is feasible financially and establishes a level of confidence for moving forward. During the initial cost range discussions, specific cost drivers and areas that elevate or reduce the total investment can be helpful to cover and help paint a more accurate picture. Establishing the initial budget is tied into determining who the best person or company is to partner with.
The three primary models are:
Choosing the model is the first step in selecting your remodeling partner, but how do you find the right one?
Start Local; do you see any signs up in your neighborhood?
Talk about your ideas when socializing with friends and ask for referrals
Conduct internet searches and dig into the content you find
Read about companies on their websites, check their reviews and do your homework.
There are many great companies available; you need to find the best fit for your family and project. As you develop a list of potential remodeling partners, prepare the questions that you want answered when you interview candidates. Initially, spend more time talking about the company than your project.
- What is the company structure and size?
- Do they have employees, or do they subcontract everything?
- Ask them to describe their process for developing a project.
- What can you expect in a proposal?
- How do they manage and coordinate their projects?
- Will they create a written schedule?
- What is their process for making selections?
- How does their initial contract price compare to the end project cost?
- Do they used fixed price or time and materials contracts?
- How do change orders and allowances work
- What is a typical payment schedule?
- What is their warranty policy?
So many people dive right into the project details and skip the most important questions whose answers should ultimately determine with whom they partner. Once you narrow down your list of candidates, ask for current references. Have another list of questions to ask.
- Did they start when they said they would?
- How well did they communicate?
- Were any allowances high or low?
- Were they sensitive to your needs?
- Did the project finish on schedule and if not, why?
- Were there cost overruns not initiated by the client?
- How was the payment process handled?
- Would you use them again?
- How did you feel about the people in the house?
Planning a remodeling project does not need to be an overwhelming process. Invest the time upfront to interview and find the best partner to join you on the journey. Focus on learning about the companies who are considering more than their upfront cost predictions. Remodeling is a very personal experience and to be successful a relationship must be built. Once the project begins, the numbers become less important and the focus shifts to the relationship and the experience. With over 20 years in business, Liberty Hill Construction is a Design-Build Remodeling contractor that focuses on delivering a predictable and stress-free experience for our customers.