Hooray, you're FINALLY ready to embark on your remodeling project! Most people save for months or even years before they're ready to start remodeling. It's a process that brings a lot of added excitement, expectation, stress, and potential for disappointment. So you may have taken your "before" pictures, but have you followed these steps to ensure that your project will run smoothly, from start to finish? There's no way to avoid every single bump in the road, but using this blog as a blueprint to remodeling success will certainly help you avoid most of them!
Step 1: PLANNING, PLANNING, PLANNING (This is the most important step!)
🔹Develop a realistic budget
The budget is the starting-point for all remodeling jobs. Most contractors are not looking to swindle you. They need your budget and what features you want in order to know if thats A) realistically possible or B) you need to reduce the scope in order to fit into your budget. If you have a bathroom remodel and you want top of the line fixtures, Carrara marble, and a custom vanity but your budget is only $15k, he will most likely tell you that is not possible. If you have a bigger budget, he could accommodate those expensive materials, otherwise you'll have to go with cheaper options.
These conversations are important to have right away, so that everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations for the forthcoming project.
🔹Figure out where to start
Typically, people tend to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms first. Talk to your local realtor about what upgrades will give you the most money back, especially if you plan on selling in the next 5 years.
If you don't want to do it piecemeal, save your money until you can do all the upgrades you want at the same time. You’ll save on materials by ordering them all at once, and the contractor’s bid will usually be less for one large job versus multiple smaller ones
🔹Find the look you love
We love to use Houzz, Pintrest, and Real Simple Magazine to help develop our remodeling designs. These sources offer a wide variety of aesthetics for you to choose from, so everyone will be able to find a style they love! In fact, on Houzz we develop "Ideabooks" with our clients during the design phase so we can go back and forth on which colors, fixtures, etc. are the best.
🔹 Pick the right contractor
This may be the most important step of all of them. Would you ask a total stranger to babysit your child without checking any references? No way! It is pivotal to make sure your contractor has all the appropriate licensing, insurance, and a contract that delineates exactly what the job details are as well as the payment schedule.
Picking a contractor is like picking out clothing or shoes - it has to be the RIGHT FIT for YOU! No two people are alike and everyone has different expectations when it comes to remodeling. These people will be in your home (often when you are not) and it is imperative you feel comfortable with them.
Take your time and really research what kind of remodeling experience you want to have. Do you want to pay more for a big company with a receptionist that will always be able to answer or do you prefer a smaller company where you have your contractor's cell phone number so you can text back and forth?
Step 2: Ready, Set, Remodel!
🔹Understand the process
Most designers and contractors will use drawings and renderings to show you what they’re planning so you can see what the space will look like—and make adjustments, if needed. As we have seen above, all this should be done prior to beginning work. It is also important to have as much of the materials on the job already prior to starting the job so that time isn't wasted running to the hardware store to get fixtures or buy that toilet you can't live without.
Last minute changes and last minute shopping trips will eat a hole in your budget and also ruin the proposed project schedule. If your contractor proposed a job would take 6 weeks, but you decide you want to go with a different tile for the bathroom on week 2, the entire job will be set back and this puts everyone out of whack.
If last minute cosmetic changes must be made, understand that these hold ups are not the fault of the contractor and usually the orders take a while to be delivered. If you have a feeling like your contractor is at fault, make sure to keep the next point in mind!
🔹Communication is key
This is hugely important: COMMUNICATION GOES BOTH WAYS! It is pivotal that you and your contractor have a consistent dialogue about your project while it's being done. You should expect your contractor to communicate with you on any important decisions that need to be made, updates or changes to the plan that have to be dealt with, or merely just to keep you in the loop on the progress of your remodel.
On the same note, you (the homeowner) also have to communicate your expectations and desires to the contractor. Sometimes this can be hard for people who tend to be shy or aren't quite sure how to explain what they want. Make sure you find a way that you're comfortable talking to your contractor: text, email, phone call, in-person. The more communication, the less room for misunderstandings and mistakes.
🔹Handle challenges with grace
There is no way to avoid challenges during a remodeling job. Sometimes it's the plumbing, sometimes it's electrical. It's could be as problematic as structural issues or even as simple as bad weather. It's just the reality of remodeling work: once you get in there, you kick up dust and that can lead to added costs for you. Contractor pros call these unexpected additions "change orders." They were not originally planned for in the initial bid and contract; however, these issues must be dealt with before you can complete your remodeling job. In fact, if your contractor doesn't want to deal with that leaky old pipe or that old wiring, you've got a much bigger problem on your hands!
So, what to do when things aren't going the way you planned? Trust your team - you hired them for a reason. If you hired a company that has been extolled for their communication and professionalism, you will be in good hands if and when things go awry. That being said, if there is something that you know isn't right or you don't like, you have to speak up and communicate with your contractor. Remember: communication goes both ways! If you want something changed, make sure you bring it up and work on a plan to get it fixed the way you want it.
Step 3: Project Complete! Now What?
🔹 Create a punch list
At the end of a project there are always little things that need to be remedied or changed. Nicks in the paint, an outlet that's a tiny bit crooked, you get the point. Once the job is done, walk through the space with some post-it notes and put them anywhere you feel needs a little touch-up before your contractor officially leaves the job. Construction pros sometimes call this a "punch list." It helps ensure that you're fully satisfied with your job and feel it has been completed to your satisfaction.
🔹 Stay in touch
Bolster your good relationship with your contractor by providing referrals or writing a positive online review.
As always, look at our STL Renovators instagram feed or our photo gallery for some great design inspiration! If you aren't sure what your project should cost, our cost calculator should help you get started on your remodeling journey.
Remember, remodeling shouldn't be difficult or stressful. Let STL Renovators reveal your luxury.