Notes for Planning a Remodel

I have been receiving a lot of emails lately about remodeling. It seems many of you are taking advantage of the real estate downturn and buying homes that are previously owned and back on the market. While the deals are great, creating a home that fits your your lifestyle will take some planning. Planning is the single most important part of a successful remodel. I have been through many remodels, some for flips and some that are now the primary residence of the client. Knowing what your goals are before the purchase will save you time and lots of money.
Plan out every detail of what you want prior to bringing in the contractor. If you need help in the planning I recommend working with a designer or architect. Even if you plan for your project to be a do-it yourself project, you should consult with a design professional who can get your vision down on paper. A design professional can help to create the road map for your project. Next You should establish a budget. Prior to meeting with the contractor, think about what you can afford. Give yourself some flexibility,but definitely have your budget in mind. With your vision from the designer and the budget details, it's time to hire a contractor. Your contractor will let you know how much it will cost to bring your vision to life. This is where you should make adjustments before you begin. Use this meeting to find ways to cut cost where possible so you can get the things you really want in the space.You also will need to set a timeline with the contractor. In my opinion it should be details by week. You will also need to know what time they will be starting and finishing daily, how long the total project will take, and what happens when there are delays. Since remodels are dependent on several different subcontractors, have one person as the project manager. There should be one point of contact for all project related issues. There is nothing worse than showing up to check on the progress and no one knowing whats going on. Remodeling is definitely a situation where time is money. Here are some steps that you can incorporate into your planning to help you project run smoothly.
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1. Have the house inspected. This should be done prior to purchasing, but is especially important prior to starting the remodel. This will help you determine what has to be done to make the house livable. Things like electrical issues, plumbing problems, sewer and roofing can blow your budget to pieces.
2. Determine how and by whom the house will be used. This seems like common sense, but you really should walk through the house and assign a purpose to all of the rooms. Pay close attention to places where you can add value to the home like enlarging rooms or removing walls to maximize flow.
3. Work with a professional to layout the space. If the project is large,you will need to hire an architect. During this phase you can make allowances for any existing items you want to have in your new home. I am a big fan of hiding components for electronic, adding accent lighting for art, and using wasted space for storage.
4. Establish your budget. As I said before this is extremely important. Keep in mind permitting costs, labor costs, and potential holding costs.
5. Establish a time line for the project. You can not just leave this up to the contractor. If you are the project manager remember to schedule contractors according to there job. This will prevent problem like bring in painters before you finish with the sheet rock.
6. Manage your project! It is your responsibility to check on your project regularly and to make sure that people are on schedule. If you feel things are not progressing as you have planned, quickly schedule a meeting with the project manager.

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