8 Tips for a Smooth Remodeling Project

8 Tips for a Smooth Remodeling Project

Any home remodeling project can feel both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. You may be renovating to perfect your long-term forever home, or you might be renovating a home you recently purchased in order to put it back on the market.

Either way, every renovation comes with an inherent amount of stress and inconvenience, but with these tips, you can keep remodeling anxiety at bay.

Define the Scope of Your Project

A clear vision of what the project entails and what the finished space will look like is essential before anyone swings a hammer. Scope-creep (when your project continues to expand) can destroy your budget and significantly delay your timeline.

Decide on a Budget and Timeline

Many homeowners end up spending more on their remodeling projects than they anticipated, whether due to change orders, expanding their project, higher-than-expected supply costs, or other reasons. Make sure you’re clear on your project budget, and that you’ve secured the financing to cover your renovations.

Leave enough room to be flexible when unexpected costs inevitably pop up, and add about 10% to 20% to your budget for extra cushioning.

Get Everything in Writing

Be sure to get the contractor’s proposal in writing — and that it’s comprehensive. At a minimum, the proposal should include separate line items for demolition, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, painters, materials, supplies, and permits. How will debris be handled? What is the payment schedule? You wouldn’t buy or sell a house without knowing how much you’ll pay your agent. So it’s important to be equally responsible when dealing with renovation costs.

Establish a Communication Plan

Talk with your general contractor to establish a communication plan. Will they update you daily or weekly on the project’s progress? How will problems or change orders be handled? What is the expected turnaround time for calls or texts? What will the inspection schedule look like? Make sure you’re able to arrive at a mutually agreeable communication plan that works for everybody.

Make Your Selections Early

Make as many decisions as you can before construction starts. Select finishes, countertops, cabinetry, paint colors, flooring, hardware, carpet, plumbing, and light fixtures early to account for lead time and supply chain issues. Those fabulous kitchen light fixtures or wood floors you want may take 8 to 12 weeks to arrive. In the meantime, work could come to a standstill while you wait for supplies to show up.

If the sheer number of decisions to be made stresses you out, consider working with a designer to guide you. Their expertise could save you money, time, and headaches in the long run, making a nominal fee for their services well worth it.

Protect Your Valuables

Remodeling affects the entire house, even if you’re only renovating one area — the amount of dust alone will stun you. Pack away anything valuable you wouldn’t want to see damaged or dust-covered.

Contractors will usually block off non-construction spaces with heavy plastic, but consider covering furniture, light fixtures, and built-ins for added protection.

Create a Temporary Kitchen

There’s no doubt about it: Losing your kitchen during a remodel might be one of the more stressful, inconvenient elements of any big renovation. Create a temporary kitchen as removed from the construction as possible, maybe in a living room or family room.

If possible, temporarily relocate your refrigerator to the space, so you’re not stepping into a construction zone throughout the day to retrieve food. Create a space for small appliances you use frequently like the coffee pot, toaster, or blender, and devote another space for storing dry and canned goods.

Simplicity is key: Plan easy meals that use a combination of a microwave, slow cooker, toaster oven, or hot plate. It’s ideal if you’re able to stock a freezer with make-ahead meals that simply need to be heated.

You’ll need access to a water source for cleaning dishes, such as a bathroom, but you can also cut down on cleaning with a supply of disposable (even compostable) plates, bowls, and silverware.

Take Care of Yourself

Living through a renovation requires all the patience and flexibility you can muster on a day-to-day basis. Schedule small breaks for yourself and your family — away from the stress of the construction zone. Perspective and a sense of humor may be your most valuable assets during this time but remind yourself this too shall pass. And it will be worth the wait.

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