This is an unpurchased blog post for a home improvement client.

If you’re planning to remodel your house, chances are you’re struggling with a few well-known fears. Common concerns over the budget, potential delays, the mess, or choosing the wrong contractor can all be avoided with the proper planning.

Follow these tips and tricks to make the renovation process as stress-free as possible.       

Over Budget

Many homeowners are rightfully worried about their budget. If you’ve saved a lot of money or taken out a loan for your remodel project, then you want to keep it under or at budget. I’m sure anyone you’ve talked to about their renovation has told you about hidden problems in their houses (like aging wiring or water damage). The contractor does everything within their power to stick to the estimate they’ve given you, but they can’t always account for structural damage or other problems that are hiding behind drywall.

To avoid having these unexpected costs derail your project, you should go into the project expecting to find unexpected upgrades that have to be made. There are two ways to do this. Either set aside 15-20% of your budget for those costs and don’t touch it until you know there aren’t unexpected costs. Then you can use that money for upgrades or put it back in your savings account. Otherwise, identify aspects of your renovation that you are willing to downgrade or remove entirely to pay for unexpected upgrades. Let your contractor know what your plan is for unforeseen costs at the beginning of the project so they are prepared. 

Delays

Not every remodeling project has delays. If a project experiences delays, they can usually be traced to a homeowner’s changing preferences or miscommunication between the homeowners and contractors. As homeowners ourselves, we completely understand the need to get every detail perfect. You’re spending a lot of money, and this is probably the only renovation you’ll ever do of this space. It can be hard to imagine the materials and layout of your space until you see it begin to take shape. We want you to be happy with your choices, so we work with all of our homeowners to ensure they are satisfied with their options. However, with every alteration to the original plan, the project timeline and costs will change.

The other leading cause of delays is missed or misunderstood communication between the contractor and the homeowner. There are so many people involved in remodeling that it’s essential for the homeowner and the contractor to establish one person as the point of contact. Changing orders with the various specialists (electricians, framers, tilers) that work on your house will have a snowball effect on other connected aspects of the project. Unless you work with your project manager to make these requested changes, it will cause unnecessary delays.

Tips to avoid unnecessary delays:

  • Establish one point of contact and have regular meetings with them
  • Don’t ask for clarification from various workers, write down your questions and ask your point of contact to explain what’s happening
  • Sign off on the plan and don’t to add extra projects or regularly change your mind
  • Choose your materials quickly and choose ones that are readily available
  • Be available for conversations with your point of contact and ready to make decisions quickly

Mismanagement

We have encountered a real fear from new clients that their project will be mismanaged. There are many contractors out there who do not have the skills or experience to handle the remodeling projects they bid for. There are also crooks masquerading as contractors, so we completely understand this concern.

Conduct research on any company bidding on your project to protect yourself from unqualified contractors. Check online reviews of the company on sites like Houzz, look at before and after photos of their renovations, and make sure they are listed with the Better Business Bureau. When you are interviewing different companies, verify their license and certificates and insurance to make sure they are a properly registered business and have the qualifications they claim to have.

Once you have chosen a company, make sure you get a written contract before any money changes hands. That contract will protect you from poorly managed projects and allow you to take the company to court for mismanagement, so make sure you read and understand what your signing—taking it to a lawyer for clarification if necessary.

The Mess

There are no two ways about it—remodeling projects are messy. The contractor will use plastic sheeting to keep the worst of the mess away from spaces that aren’t being remodeled, but the dust will still manage to escape. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to prevent a construction project from being messy, but there are some steps you can take to mitigate the mess.

How to keep your house clean during a renovation:

  • Remove everything from the rooms being renovated
  • Cover heavy furniture with drop cloths or plastic
  • Place a path of cardboard, plastic, or carpet that contractors can walk on to get through the house (ask the contractor to do this)
  • Air out the house
  • Vacuum and dust regularly

Strangers in Your Home

The last major concern of homeowners is having strangers in their house (especially when they aren’t there). Once again, an entirely understandable worry. You don’t know the people in your home, so you have to trust that your contractor is hiring trustworthy people. This comes down to picking the right business for the job. Pay attention to those online reviews and make sure the company you choose is legitimate.

Contractors will usually install a lockbox on your door with a special code that allows contractors to enter your home to do their work. Talk to your contractor about which entrance is the best to use and what hours workers will be there so you’ll be prepared when workers show up in the morning. You should also talk to your contractor about what parts of the house will need to be accessed for different aspects of the project (rooms being renovated, fusebox, etc.), so you know where workers will be.There needs to be a lot of trust between the contractor and homeowner, which is why choosing the right contractor is such an important factor in making your project run smoothly. You are putting your home and your new vision for it in their hands. We don’t take that lightly. We are dedicated to ensuring our homeowners understand every step of the renovation process so we can turn your house into your dream home with as little stress as possible. 

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