Kicking off a home renovation is certainly exciting. Remodeling your home can give it an entirely new look, so it’s common for homeowners to enthusiastically jump into a project without fully considering the time or commitment.
But you can ensure you fall in love with your remodel by asking yourself the right questions before you begin. By better preparing for a project of this scope, you’ll help guarantee remodeling success.
1. Why are you remodeling your home?
Are you aiming to increase your home’s resale value by improving curb appeal or upgrading your facade to steel siding? Trying to create long-term savings by upgrading to more energy-efficient materials? Or are you ready for a home design that better fits your family’s lifestyle?
It’s important to identify the purpose of your renovation beforehand so you and your contractor can agree on the end result. When you can establish a clear goal for your project, it will be easier to make choices that steer work in the right direction.
2. Do you have the property survey for your home?
Making sure you have a property survey of your land isn’t always necessary, but it can save you big headaches come renovation time.
The survey is like a blueprint of your entire property, mapping out key features and considerations:
If you’re lucky, your home’s previous owner may have given you a property survey along with your sale documents. But if not, it’s up to you to obtain one. The average cost for hiring a professional land surveyor is $500, but the savings it could provide in the long run makes it worth it. Your contractor may be able to help you find and make arrangements with a quality surveyor.
3. Do you have permission to make renovations?
Before you get your heart set on a new design, check with your local building authorities (and Homeowner’s Association, if applicable) to determine what is and isn’t allowed.
These authorities can impose rules about what type of work is allowed, as well as how and when it’s carried out. Especially in the case of HOAs, you may face tight restrictions on the colors, materials and styles you can select for your remodel.
You will likely be required by these authorities to obtain official approval of your design plans. Fortunately, contractors can oftentimes help with permit applications as a part of their service.
4. Will the weather interfere with your renovation?
Booking your contractor for renovation in the off-season can have a lot of benefits, such as lower prices and faster completion times.
But these perks can be trade-offs for inconveniences caused by inclement weather. That’s why it’s important to consider your climate when deciding on your project’s start date.
If you live in an area where the weather is mild, you will likely be able to carry out your remodel by making a few accommodations. These can include setting up outdoor tents to shelter work areas from rain, as well as covering materials and putting up wind screens. Check with your contractor to see if they’re willing to work with such setups, and whether or not their team can install them.
If your climate is harsh, with heavy snow or rainfall, you may be forced to postpone your renovation for warmer, dryer months.
5. How much time can you dedicate?
Remodeling projects can take weeks or months to complete. Before you make any commitments, seriously evaluate the amount of time you’ll be able to dedicate to the project.
Can you spare the time to manage this project for the duration your contractor has estimated? Between emails, phone calls, meetings and daily check-ins, you should count on setting aside several hours (if not days) per week to attend to your remodel. Keep in mind that if you’re unable to devote enough time to managing the project, your project could take longer to finish.
Other time factors that should be considered relate to your own comfort. Will you and your family be able to tolerate work noise and inconveniences for that long? You’ll need to have suitable accommodations that will get you through the renovation period, and the funds to cover it.
6. Do you have the necessary budget?
Have you made a realistic plan of your costs? It’s important to have a thorough budget ahead of time so that you can evaluate whether or not you can truly afford your remodel.
In a recent survey, 40% of homeowners who exceeded their renovation budgets had underestimated the costs of materials and services. Do your preliminary research and, if possible, decide on the materials you want before your project starts. Ask for detailed quotes from contractors and watch out for estimates that seem too good to be true.
7. Do you know how to choose the right contractor?
Finding the right contractor for your renovation is a process that requires careful consideration and research. You’ll want to contact a few to get quotes and assess their suitability.
Bear in mind that good contractors are usually quite busy. They typically have to be booked 2-4 months in advance of your desired start date, and may need a few days to respond to your booking inquiry.
When you speak to a prospective contractor, ask them to provide proof of their licensing, insurance and their standard contract terms.
Don’t forget to get a few references: past customer experiences can be the best predictor of how your own remodel will go. Ask these references what it was like to work with the contractor, how they handled any problems that came up, and whether or not their work has proved to be high quality.
Look out for the following warning signs:
Perhaps you’re envisioning a specialty dome-shaped glass patio covering, or you simply must have custom masonry all around your home’s facade. By all means, go for the design of your dreams! But remember that your average contractor may not have the specialized skills required for your unique request.
You may have to seek out expert subcontractors to handle that particular part of your remodel. Or, if your project’s entire scope is full of special elements, then you should find a general contractor who specializes in custom work. Be sure to check out these contractor’s portfolios and look for past work that is similar in style or type to what you desire in your own renovation.
9. How will you accommodate work on your property?
During a renovation, your property is ground zero for all your project’s activities, materials and craftsmen. You’ll need to make sure that there’s enough space not only for the work itself, but also material storage, waste and worker’s needs.
Bathroom accommodations are one of the seemingly little things that homeowners often overlook. If you count on workers using a bathroom in your home, then you’ll be dealing with workers coming and going throughout the day, possibly interfering with your household routine. The simplest solution for you and your team is to rent a portable toilet to place outside. This typically costs $100 per month.
10. How will you handle communication with your contractor?
Clear communication with your contractor is key to ensuring your remodel’s success. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure you’re set up to communicate as effectively as possible.
Find out what your contractor’s preferred methods of communication are and, if possible, choose the one that is most realistic for you. For example, if you rarely check your email, skip online messages and opt for calling instead.
Let your contractor know how you’re most easily reached so that they can get in touch without hassle. Paving the way for easy contact is the ticket to a smooth remodeling process with minimal delays.
Guaranteeing a (Future) Happy Home
Answering these questions can take some time, but it’s worth putting in the effort to make sure you’re truly ready for your upcoming project.
Planning ahead actually helps you save time, money, and worry later on. We hope this quick guide has been useful for your remodeling preparations, so you’re ready for your new look when the day finally comes!