As homeowners and their families spend more time at home, many become increasingly aware of what works and what doesn’t around the house and start to consider home renovation projects. Some are planned to fix problems that have become glaringly apparent, such as outdated kitchens that no longer meet their needs. Other projects might include wish list items they’ve always wanted, such as a remodeled bathroom with enhanced amenities or a new home office for greater productivity. If you're one of these homeowners with a renovation project in mind, chances are you’ll need some help to create the home you've been dreaming of successfully.
This eBook is a guide to creating that ideal home. In it, we’ll discuss how to get the biggest bang for your renovation buck so you can get the look, quality craftsmanship, and functional amenities that have always been on your mind but never on paper as achievable goals.
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Things to consider before you start renovating or remodeling
Some homeowners may attempt to get a quote without doing the necessary initial planning. Sometimes they’ll ask for a bid without taking the time and even spending a little money to develop a real plan. Or they’ll attempt to get a project estimate based on a short conversation they may have had with a builder and assumptions made by both parties. Or they’ll start by working with an architect who is eager to flesh out their dreams with a design that in no way matches their budget. Avoid these approaches because they almost always end up producing less-than-satisfactory results.
Understand your goals for the renovation
Before you dive into your home renovation project, you should first look at your future goals for your house, particularly short and long-term plans. Apart from the short-term goal of fixing things that are broken or worn out, you must also consider whether you plan to live in that property for a more extended period or if you're planning to sell it off relatively soon.
Ask yourself, "Will a remodeling or renovation project accomplish what I really want, or am I better off simply moving?" Suppose you really like your home and your neighborhood. In that case, remodeling is the right answer because it will only improve an already good situation, and you can get precisely what you want with some proper planning.
The key is to work with a contractor who will listen carefully to what you’re trying to accomplish and then provide you with the right answers to help you get there.
Get advice from a team who listens
The key is to work with a contractor who will listen carefully to what you’re trying to accomplish and then provide you with the right answers to help you get there. It’s important to avoid hiring a “yes man” who will simply tell you what you want to hear in order to get the job. They almost always end up cutting corners to try to get the project to align with the budget, or if they’ve wildly over-promised, simply fail to complete the project successfully – if at all.
If you decide to stay where you are, the next question is, will renovation achieve what I want, or should I be looking at a tear-down and rebuild? Sometimes a little renovation is all it takes to achieve your project goal, and it will save you unnecessary expense. But sometimes, it makes more financial sense to tear down what's not working and get more value now and in the future with new construction, which will provide a more significant return-on-investment (ROI).
Here are some fundamental questions you should answer before you start:
1. Will my renovation be a good investment?
Remodeling projects should add functionality and beauty to your home. Still, you should be aware of how your investment affects both the value of your home and your cash flow. Will the cost of what you want fit within your budget? It'll be hard to enjoy the new or remodeled space if you're worried about paying bills and affording other long-term expenses such as college for the kids. Also, consider your home's current value and the value of the homes in your neighborhood. Suppose you're remodeling because you’re going to be selling your home soon. In that case, this information will be helpful since your renovations (or lack of them) can affect how much money you’ll get for it.
2. Does the available space match your renovation ideas, and is the timing right?
Before you launch into a home remodeling project, make sure you have sufficient space for what you'd like to accomplish. For example, if you want to add an in-law’s apartment, you first need to ensure that there’s ample space for one or more occupants to live comfortably.
3. Have I done the necessary homework?
Undertaking a home renovation project is more than just driving nails into wood. It’s critical to have the proper help available, develop a comprehensive plan to achieve your project goals, secure the right funding to complete that plan successfully, and empower your construction partner to implement the plan fully.
Do some research into what types of building permits and inspections your city or town requires. Laws differ from one municipality to the next. Still, more extensive projects such as building an addition, garage, or installing a new HVAC system will generally require a permit—smaller remodeling jobs such as painting rooms or changing fixtures and appliances do not. Your town office will be able to tell you what is required if you’re planning to do the work yourself. If you hire a professional general contractor, they will usually handle all the necessary permitting and inspections.
Every home renovation project needs somebody to do the work. There are three basic ways to handle yours:
Some homeowners have the skill and tools to do their own remodeling work. Some, however, might overestimate their ability and run into problems. Some typical pitfalls include underestimating costs and going over budget, buying the wrong materials, and making costly construction mistakes that need to be corrected by a professional.
Act as your own general contractor
Homeowners who have a clear understanding of their own skills and the ones they lack will sometimes act as their own general contractor and subcontract the work they can’t do, such as plumbing or electrical. Trying to juggle multiple schedules, myriad estimates, and delays that can negatively affect the entire project can cause significant headaches and cost more time and money.
Work with a full-service design/build firm
This is a company that provides all the services necessary to complete a construction project – from designing and permitting to purchasing materials and constructing. The most significant benefit of working with this type of firm is the single source of accountability it provides. You have one point of contact for every aspect of the project.
The most significant benefit of working with a full-service design/build firm is the single source of accountability it provides. You have one point of contact for every aspect of the project.
Whatever path you choose, many homeowners have some important questions when considering a home renovation project. It's helpful to know what they are and review them because they can provide some insights into what can affect most projects:
- What do home renovation projects cost?
- How long is it going to take to renovate my home?
- What do I need to know about hiring a home renovation company?
- How do I avoid the horror stories and costly mistakes I hear about?
- How do I get the most return-on-investment (ROI) on my home with a renovation project?
- What are the most popular and efficient renovation ideas?
- What are the essentials of a kitchen remodeling project?
- How can I maximize my kitchen storage space to match my lifestyle?
In the next chapter, we'll explore answers to these and other questions to help you launch your dream home renovation project and see it to successful completion.
Guidelines to Achieving the Home of Your Dreams
To start on the right path, it's essential to put some time and effort into the various steps and phases of home renovation to ensure that every aspect has been addressed, so there are no hidden surprises or costly mistakes. Begin by choosing the right remodeling project to add functionality, beauty, and value to your home.
Here are some of the top remodeling and renovation projects to consider:
One of the most popular rooms people judge a home by, bathrooms are a favorite remodeling project for most homeowners. Today’s bathrooms can be a marvel of digital technology, with WIFI-controlled heating and cooling systems, smart mirror displays, boldly designed fixtures, and appealing colors and textures.
The most central and personal room in a home, master bedrooms are ideal for bringing creative ideas to life. Turn a drab, unappealing room into a peaceful, personal sanctuary with all the creature comforts. Modern materials and architectural touches can add unique appeal and value.
To start on the right path, it’s essential to put some time and effort into the various steps and phases of home renovation to ensure that every aspect has been addressed, so there are no hidden surprises or costly mistakes.
One of the best ways to add value and functionality to a home is with a room addition. For example, a family room can be a cost-efficient addition that provides much-needed space for family game nights, movie-watching, or kids to have friends over. Another benefit of an addition is it often enables the homeowner to reconfigure the functionality of adjoining rooms to significantly improve the flow, sightlines and openness of the primary living spaces in the home.
Kitchens (especially open floor plan kitchens) with more and better storage and counter space, better lighting, and a more functional workflow have always been popular. Open floor plans enable you to integrate better spaces that touch, such as food prep, cooking, and dining areas, for a seamless design flow. More efficient and convenient storage spaces such as roll-out shelves, pull-out cabinets, and more useful corner cabinets are more accessible and contribute to cleaner, clutter-free countertops.
Once you’ve settled on what’s the best renovation investment for your home and lifestyle, it’s time to begin the steps necessary for a successful project. Start by selecting your contractor so that you can develop a plan that will enable you to receive an accurate quote so you can set a budget and apply for necessary financing.
Selecting a contractor: Get referrals and ask a lot of questions.
Start by evaluating construction firms to see if they are a good fit for you and your project. Look for firms with the process, team, and culture in place to efficiently and successfully complete your project. Seek a firm with a proven track record for completing renovations on time and on budget, producing high-quality work that is attractive and exceeds the homeowner's expectations.
Selecting a design/build firm has many advantages
The most efficient and effective way to accomplish all of this is to work with a design/build firm. This type of renovation company provides all the services necessary to complete a construction project – from designing and permitting to purchasing materials and constructing. The most significant benefit of working with this type of firm is the single source of accountability it provides. You have one point of contact for every aspect of the project. Of course, it's essential to make sure that the firm you hire can provide all of the services it promises. That means having licensed and credentialed design and construction professionals on staff and experience with projects like yours.
Look for firms with the process, team, and culture in place to efficiently and successfully complete your home renovation project.
Learn about the firm’s reputation and approach
A municipal building inspector can validate a contractor's capabilities and reliability. They know when complaints have been filed against a builder and will often have first-hand knowledge of their work quality because they inspected it to provide approval for occupancy.
Ask any firm you're considering for your project how they go about the planning phase.
- How do they schedule?
- Do they have dedicated project managers?
- How do they ensure a project is on time and on budget?
A construction firm must provide detailed plans to quote accurate pricing and develop a reasonable and accurate work schedule.
Finding the right construction company with the processes and resources to fit your needs and achieve your goals will help ensure your project's successful completion.
Develop a detailed plan to receive an accurate quote
To get an accurate quote, you must have a detailed project plan. Some contractors are willing to provide a best-guess estimate, but this can easily lead to wildly inaccurate numbers, cost increases, and project delays. A reliable, professional firm will have a process-based, disciplined approach to estimating that yields accurate, reliable quotes to help you avoid unpleasant surprises.
The right construction firm will have the staff on hand to work closely with you on every phase of your renovation project planning down to every detail, including design, materials, labor, appliances, and fixtures, so that you'll have a complete picture of all expenses. This approach is the only way you will be able to get a reliable, accurate quote that you can take to the bank.
Establish a reasonable budget
Everyone starts a home renovation project with the best intentions. To save money, some homeowners focus on the lowest price for everything, and the old saying inevitably comes true: "you get what you pay for." As Ben Franklin once said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
The biggest concern most homeowners have when considering a home renovation project is the cost – will they achieve a good ROI on their home improvements and increase their home value? To evaluate the real value of your renovation project investment, you need to look at two factors: the financial return you can expect from any improvements you make when you sell your home and the improved quality of life you can expect to enjoy while you stay in your home. It's important to invest in quality craftsmanship because poor-quality construction not only has a negative impact on the home's appeal and therefore its value, but it will also require additional investment to fix poor workmanship, further diminishing the value of the home. Quality workmanship adds financial value while making it more enjoyable to live there, adding immeasurably to the home’s true value and the return on your investment. Do not mistake short-term “savings” for long-term value.
Quality workmanship adds financial value while making it more enjoyable to live there, adding immeasurably to the home’s true value and the return on your investment.
Set a realistic schedule
Be sure to allocate ample time for every step of your remodeling project. The fact is that for nearly every large-scale project, you will likely come up against at least one unexpected delay. Delay-causing events can range from discovering unknown structural problems with your house to material or appliance shipping issues to unpredictable weather.
Working with a professional design/build firm will enable you to establish the most realistic and reliable timeline for construction because they will control every aspect of your project from start to finish. And while there can undoubtedly be delays beyond their control, they will be managing every stage of the project to ensure the most seamless transition between phases.
Good planning, estimating, and scheduling produce excellent results and a successful home renovation project you'll be proud of and will enjoy for years to come.
Realizing your dream home – how a little effort can produce big results
Creating the home of your dreams does not happen haphazardly. It takes effort, discipline, planning, investment, and the proper team to bring it all together.
Avoid the feel-good response you might hear from some contractors who are eager to tell you what you want to hear to get the job. Instead, look for a firm with the breadth and depth of expertise and experience to do your job correctly. You'll want a company with a proven track record for delivering projects that exceed clients' expectations but not their budgets.
A design/build firm with a full staff will be able to develop a comprehensive, detailed plan for your project that is both realistic and within your budget. This will go a long way in providing confidence and peace-of-mind.
A reliable, professional firm will have a process-based, disciplined approach to estimating that yields accurate, reliable quotes to help you avoid unpleasant surprises.
At Mitchell Construction Group, our culture and work ethic are unmatched. We have a proven process that enables us to complete highly successful projects predictably, reliably, and repeatedly. Our track record speaks for itself.
We believe in creating positive, dynamic relationships with our clients that start with fully understanding their needs. Our goal is always to exceed their expectations and create enthusiastic fans. We know a construction company is only as good as its last project, and we're out to prove ourselves with each new one.
To learn more about our unique approach and proven process for home renovation projects, download our FREE guide, Mitchell Construction’s Secrets to Beautifully Remodeled Homes, or schedule a home renovation discovery call.
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