Interest rates are up and prices for materials are constantly fluctuating. Your home layout is overdue for an update, but is a home renovation project the right decision for you?
Before committing to the time and expense of a set of detailed plans and a contract for a project that you can’t follow through on — or worse — getting a quick “guestimate” from a contractor you just met, consider a helpful alternative: To gain a good understanding of the cost versus your hopes or a quick guess from a builder, consider a home renovation feasibility study.
A home renovation feasibility study is a way to quickly determine if a project can be done both from a financial and a permitting perspective. It’s a way to avoid potentially costly mistakes and a bad relationship with your builder.
Let’s say you want to add an attached garage to your home. A three-car garage is a must-have whether you renovate or move. As it stands, your mortgage currently has a very favorable interest rate compared with today’s market. Moving would mean paying more for a house and taking on a higher interest rate for a full mortgage. Will an addition that includes a three-car garage plus a new mudroom and refurbished primary bedroom and bathroom make more sense? Without a solid sense of the numbers, this decision creates a lot of anxiety. You feel stuck because you don’t have the right information to help make the best choice.
This is where a renovation feasibility study can be so helpful. A builder will listen to your needs to understand your renovation priorities. From there, they will define a scope of work looking at current costs to arrive at an estimate for the time and dollars the project will require.
The main questions to address are:
In this scenario, a feasibility study will help determine if securing a loan to build a three-car garage and the other elements you want in a renovation will be significantly less expensive than moving. What does your renovation wish-list look like? Will local building, conservation, and other codes allow for the renovation you want? A feasibility study will help determine the best course of action in your unique situation.
What should you expect when you ask for a feasibility study? A feasibility study typically takes 40 hours to complete. Here is a look into the process as we guide it at Mitchell.
1. You make a small financial commitment to implement the feasibility study.
2. Members of the production team and estimators meet at your home. The team will ask you questions to determine your needs, wants, and wishes to establish a scope of work. The immediate spaces for renovation are measured, photographed, and documented. The home is studied to determine which systems (gas, electric, sewer/septic, etc.) may be affected by the project.
3. The production team then does an analysis of the permitting requirements to determine if a plot plan is needed or any other zoning or conservation requirements need to be met. This step helps determine if the renovation is possible from a permitting standpoint.
4. A brief scope of work and a pencil sketch is created for the renovation project and that is used to conduct a subcontractor walkthrough at the home. At that time, the subcontractors provide added feedback about what other work is needed. This might include removing load bearing walls, electrical upgrades, and similar work. The goal is to capture as much detail as possible.
5. The final presentation is prepared including budgetary costing and other information for a meeting with you as the homeowner.
A feasibility study may not be necessary in every situation, but it provides clarity in the decision making process about whether or not to move forward on a home renovation project. With a clear understanding of what is possible, you are empowered to take action by contracting with a design-build company, finalizing the plan, design details, and financing the project with confidence. This initial step also gives you a window into how the design-build firm operates, so you can be confident you are working with a partner who has your interests at heart, and will deliver on their promises.
To learn more about the home renovation process, please read our eBook, “The Homeowner’s Guide to Creating the Dream Home You’ll Love.” And if you are ready to speak about your next renovation, please schedule a home renovation discovery session.
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