Top 4 Strategies to Prepare for a Successful Remodel

2019 is starting off with a bang calls from potential clients considering a remodeling of their home. Some projects are full remodels or new construction, and some are minor refreshes. No matter the size of your project there are a few things that you can do now to prepare. While there are hundreds of decisions to be made before you even start a remodel, and yes going to the plumbing or tile store can be a lot more fun than what I’m sharing here, but what I do know is that starting with these 4 strategies will help you finish strong and with a beautiful home you can be proud of.

01. Start at the End

It might sound counter-intuitive, but your successful project is all about the dreaming, planning, and preparing. If you don’t know what you want to end up with, how will you know how to get there? I’ve worked on many projects and one common denominator is that being in a hurry and not putting a solid plan in place will leave you with nothing but headaches and heartache. Potential clients will call me and say we’ve been thinking about remodeling for the past year and we’re ready to start. Oh, and it needs to be done by X date. 9 times out of 10 they have no idea what their budget is, they aren’t sure of their style, they might not even agree with their spouse about the end result, and they don’t have a contractor. Don’t get me wrong, being enthusiastic and ready to start are great, but you want to be sure to allow time to really prepare so that construction moves along as smooth as possible.

Here are some things to think about:

  • What is your over-arching goal? Do you really need more space, or do you need your existing space to be more functional?
  • Is your family growing or shrinking? How long would you like to stay in your home?
  • Do you need accessibility now (or in the near future) so you can stay in your home?
  • How will these changes impact your life? Will you feel more at ease, comfortable, happy?
  • For a kitchen remodel how do you work in your current kitchen and what is working or not working? Is it crowded or arranged awkwardly? What’s the flow of the space? Does everyone dump their mail and projects on the kitchen counter?
  • And don’t forget to think about your budget. While no one wants to reveal their number out of the gate, but doing so will help your designer/contractor guide you to the right solution.

02. Hiring a Contractor

One might think that time and money are the most important factors when it comes to hiring a contractor. But really it’s accuracy, integrity, and communication.

  • If you hire a contractor and it turns out they don’t pay attention to detail, you’ll pay to fire them and hire someone else. Or you’ll pay in time to have them redo it.
  • If you hire a contractor who says they’ll show up but don’t, you’ll pay in the form of time it takes to complete your project.
  • If you hire a contractor who can’t communicate the schedule or why you’re getting change orders, you’ll pay both in time and money.

This stage can be challenging and frustrating, but is oh so important. Trust me, I’ve done my own remodel project and despite my years of experience, I also ran into issues. But what I learned has been invaluable to understanding what you will go through as you experience your own remodel. If there are three things I know for sure: 1) I don’t know everything, 2) anything can happen and usually does, and 3) it will always cost more than you think and if you try to skimp in the beginning, you’ll probably pay double in the end. I realize that sounds really harsh but it’s true. It was true for me and it’s been true for many of my clients.

I’ve been involved with many remodels for my clients and some have gone better than others. If I’m honest, I learn something new on every project. Every. Project. Some are new ways of how to design and build. Some are about the process which I take forward with me into the next project.

Finding the right contractor is no simple task. Ask your designer for recommendations. Ask for referrals from friends, family members or neighbors who’ve recently completed a project. Post something to Facebook and ask for recommendations.

Start by interviewing first and forget asking them about how much they think your project will cost and their timeline. Until you have all of your finishes and materials selected, it will be a ballpark guess at best. Instead, ask them about their process, how they handle upsets, do they have a crew of employees or vendors they use consistently, will they provide a schedule for the project from start to finish, how do they handle notifying you of surprises once demo has started, how do they communicate progress. And above all ask for referrals!

03 Preparation & Timing

Don’t be in a hurry. Both from a design perspective but also from starting demo and construction. Your house is going to be dust zone; you might even consider moving out, depending upon the extent of the remodel. If you have kids, prepare them for the interruption and what the new routine will look like.

If you’re hiring an interior designer, give yourself time to look through magazines, Houzz or Pinterest to collect images of homes and spaces you like and be able to communicate those to the designer.

Start packing things up and getting rid of items you no longer want. This way when you are unpacking you know that everything going back into your kitchen is what you need/want. Remodels are time-consuming and an energy suck and by the end you’ll be tired of strangers in your home and want to collapse and enjoy the final product, not sift through all the junk.

04 When in Doubt, Hire it Out

These above strategies are often overlooked or rushed through in the excitement of starting a remodel. If you already feel uncertain, overwhelmed and possibly frustrated, consider hiring an interior designer to help you navigate, plan and design your successful remodel. Yes, it will cost you money, but it will save you money in the long run. You will know that you are selecting the right finishes. You will know that everything works together to creative a cohesive design. You will save time, which in turn saves you money because your designer and contractor will be working together as a team so you don’t have to spend time micromanaging the project.