Home remodeling can be overwhelming in every aspect. After all, changing major things about your home can impact your family’s quality of life for years to come, and the weight of every decision is enough to drive anyone up the wall. There are so many things to cover to ensure that you feel confident and in-control during your project. We’ve put together a handy guide of 10 most-popular tips to feel empowered over the course of your remodel. These tips help you avoid regrettable mistakes when you undergo a remodeling or design project. In the end, you’ll be able to look at your finished project with a smile that follows you from room to room and have come out all the stronger for it.
1. Plan ahead
This is the key to success and to stress reduction. Be sure of what you want. Write it down, investigate it, and make assertive decisions, always taking into account your space and the needs you want to cover down the road. Make a working budget from the early stages of your project. This way you’ll have the control you need every step of the way, which is the easiest way to prevent regrets later.
2. Keep the big picture in mind
Remodeling or redesigning a home has many collateral aspects to consider. Long-term maintenance, energy loss, and repair expenses can add up quickly. Make sure you include mid-term costs in your calculations when comparing prices for different fixtures, features and materials.
You’ll typically see this reflected in the cost of an item…for instance, for lighting—you might not go all out this time, but instead get something that just “works”. This way, you can change it for a “refresh” in a couple to several years when the styles change again. Or maybe you want to change your kitchen faucet…here’s where you want to spend “smart” money, getting quality even if it costs more because this is probably one of the most used plumbing pieces in your home. A great example of this are faucets…if you’ve ever priced a big box store and priced a plumbing store for the same faucet – you’ll most likely see that there’s a big difference in price. That’s because the manufacturer has made that faucet just for a big box store – it has more plastic pieces – just pick up the box that it comes in and you’ll feel the difference!
3. Select the best experts
Hire the contractors who have decades of experience, membership in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), a good record with the Better Business Bureau, and positive customer reviews and references. Most importantly, select a remodeler you trust. Get recommendations from family and friends, do fact checking, and have phone interviews—be prepared to spend time on the phone with them, don’t just “book” the appointment. See how comfortable you are with them on the phone first.
Next, look them up on social media to see who’s most connected to the community. Prepare all your questions ahead of time and write them down to tackle them all when you meet each contractor. See if they have videos where you can learn a little bit more about them, their jobsite practices and see how they install.
4. View consumer reviews
There are third-party survey companies like GuildQuality that most contractors use to collect reviews, comments and complaints from clients after the close of a project. Look for reviews on these sites and on housing and project sites like Houzz.com and read through the most recent reviews. Most importantly, on platforms like Facebook and Google Reviews where the contractor can reply, look to see where the contractor has replied to a public complaint.
5. Be a good boss
The best thing you can do to avoid stress during a project is maintain a good relationship with your contractors. But this doesn’t mean catering to them—after all, you’re their client, and they’re serving you. Just be transparent and honest. Your contractor will appreciate the easy communication and trust and will pay back with the best service in turn. Just like you want them to be honest with you, you need to be upfront and honest with them.
6. Hammer down the details, in writing
If you jump into a remodeling project with an ambiguous contract or no contract at all, you might as well hire an attorney and set a court date right away. Be sure to agree on a payment plan ahead of time and to take into consideration any possible delays. Include a budget for materials and work and be sure you’re protected from any liens from subcontractors. Let’s put it this way: if it isn’t in writing, it isn’t included. If a contractor gives you a 2 or 3 page proposal for a project, are you sure all the details are included?
7. Do your research
Needless to say, your project is exciting for you and your whole family! But there’s also a lot of frustration to be anticipated when you encounter unexpected snags, delays, and other inconveniences that come from living in a construction zone. You’ll handle the lows better if you know they’re coming. A reputable remodeler will shape your expectations before the project begins. Make sure to prepare in advance and follow up on any doubts you have. Ask them to help you prepare…if you’re doing a kitchen or a bathroom remodel in particular, ask them for suggestions on what has worked for previous clients.
8. Make a temporary living arrangement for any project that requires it
Speaking of lows, it can’t get much worse than living without a kitchen for days or weeks on end. Or maybe you’re living without a bathroom or a living space. Just remember, there’s always a temporary solution. For example, if it’s the kitchen that’s inaccessible, minimize the inconvenience by setting up a temporary one elsewhere. Include your refrigerator and microwave so you can continue to make meals at home. Or, if it’s a bedroom or living space, set up camp as needed in other rooms so you can be comfortable during construction. You can always use the remodel as an excuse to treat yourself to a hotel or a few dinners out, when it comes down to it. And remember, this is a great time to purge and downsize—we all collect stuff we don’t need!
9. Take care of your most prized items
A remodeling project will affect all of the areas of the house, even if it’s just to access areas under construction. Make sure to take down pictures, move vases and pack away any similar items before work begins. And while you’re at it, take steps to protect your immovable fixtures, including built-in cabinets and chandeliers. Have flooring covered with cardboard sheets if it needs to stay in good condition. The good news is, the right contractor should include most of this protection for you, so make sure you have a clear understanding of how your home will protected during the remodel…including how they tidy up after they’re done!
10. Communicate effectively
Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can’t read minds. Let the company supervisor or project lead know if anything is wrong so they can make sure you’re completely satisfied. This should come organically if you’ve selected a contractor that you can trust, and whose communication is in-sync with yours.
If you follow these tips you’ll finish your projects and see what it really feels like to be in control of a successful remodel. You’ll be prepared for any changes to your plan and will know how to use your resources effectively. Cover your bases step by step, and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the journey.