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A Smooth Running Remodeling Project

posted Jul 7, 2017, 3:03 PM by Kathy Marr   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 3:04 PM ]
Your Roadmap to a Smooth Running Remodeling Project

The new kitchen is done, the contractors have packed up their tools and gone home. You walk in to your brand-new kitchen and it is exactly as you imagined it from the beginning. Everything, right down to the last light switch cover is the right color, pattern, and came in on time and went in without a hitch. And it looks EXACTLY like it did in your mind when you first started planning to do this remodel. Squeal…Halt! Let’s stop right here and put away our unicorn and sweep up the fairy dust. While we would like to say it always goes like that, it is rarely the case.

The reality is that more than likely something will go off the rail, an unexpected and unavoidable delay will occur, a part will get back-ordered, or maybe good old Mother Nature won’t cooperate. Sometimes, the vision in your mind just isn’t a real possibility due to space or cost constraints. There are simply things you just can’t prepare for, but the good news is that there’s plenty that you can. Costly changes and add on, time-consuming work can be kept to a minimum if you fully comprehend all the details of what you are building before you start. By having a good grasp of the construction process and keeping a close eye on the budget, and also by becoming an integral part of the construction team, your remodel project can result in the room or home you had in your mind at the outset!

It all starts with having a well thought out and organized project plan. So, what does the road map look like?

Stop #1 Start by Establishing your Goals – and Frequently Refer Back to Them 

Establish what your priorities are for this project…and rank them. This way when you are forced to make decision down the road due to budget overruns or material changes, etc., you will be able to easily make the decision because you have clearly outlined, in advance, what features are most important within the project. These decision points will make it easier, overall, to get to the final goal. On a kitchen remodel, you will already know that the sink in front of the window is much more important than having the appliance garage and wine fridge when cuts have to be made.

 

Stop #2 Establish Your Budget – and Set Aside an Addition 10-15% Buffer

After setting aside what you have determined to be the amount you will spend on your remodeling construction project, you need to set aside and addition amount as a contingency. This money is not intended for upgrades to your plan, rather it is for covering the things that come up in a project that are totally unexpected. For instance, when existing walls are torn down it may be discovered that wiring or plumbing is not up to current code. That may have been unforeseeable at the time of bidding but once discovered must be rectified. Anytime demolition for a construction job begins, there is the potential for discovering these hidden drains to the budget. These are what the buffer budget is for – not for upgrading the countertops! Without this buffer, you might find yourself short of cash to finish the job and meet your obligations.

 

Stop #3 Don’t Forgo Working With a Design/Build Contractor

A Design/Build Contractor melds the need for an architect, in many cases, with the construction contractor, bringing the project under one roof. A Design/Build professional contractor brings skills to the job that a run of the mill remodeler does not possess. They can provide guidance on what team members will be required on the project, what complexities the structure bears, the creativity on space design/utilization, knowledge of architecture styles and structural design, and well versed in current codes and regulations.

Two key advantages for utilizing the services of a Design/Build contractor over a traditional remodeler or an architect and remodeler in tandem, is: One, it is more cost effective to have the design and build under one roof. Always. Two, it is more efficient. If designers and builders are not the same people, a project is always at risk of plans not matching up, one side may not know exactly what the other is planning, etc. Economy and Efficiency, it is a great combination when you are trying to get the most out of your remodeling dollars.

Stop #4 Become a Player on the Team

You, as the homeowner and visionary of the project, are the leader of the team. You need to stay involved and up-to-date with the progress. Staying involved from beginning to end is vitally important to keeping the communication channels opening and functioning. None of us are mind-readers, and we all know the problem with assumptions, so staying on the same page throughout is the best way to make sure the project continues to flow in the right direction and nobody ends up surprised along the way.

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Some of the things a homeowner needs to keep a close eye on are the schedule, material selections, the budget, and that the job construction and quality seems as it should. Mistakes do get made, drawings get misread, or a sub installs a door on the wrong side of the shower. An involved homeowner might catch something before it becomes a big issue. Bottom line? Communication is key to everything!

Stop #5 Set A Realistic Project Schedule

This new bathroom should only take a week or two, right? I see, the unicorn is back! Even a small remodeling project takes weeks. Sometimes there are weeks involved before our craftsmen ever show up for the first day on the jobsite. The weeks preceding that are spent designing, carefully developing the team, ordering materials, pulling permits and generally getting the job ready to rock and roll. It really takes time to work out all of the details of a construction project. The more effort put in up front, the more pot holes avoided later on during the actual construction. Problems avoided generally equals money saved and headaches averted!

So just like putting in a budget buffer, it is a good thing to put in a timeline buffer as well. If you have a big event like a wedding or graduation, for instance, you are trying to be ready for, you definitely need to have that buffer or contingency time build in. Murphy is always waiting to bring down his law, because what can go wrong, most likely will go wrong if you absolutely, positively, have to have it done by a certain date!

Stop #6 Consider the Challenges of the Construction Itself

Working with a Design/Build contractor eliminates most of the constraints an average homeowner trying to manage a job on their own would face…how to get permits, knowing when and how to get structural engineer drawing, where are the load bearing walls, how to deal with HVAC runs.

But don’t forget the challenge of living in a construction zone. Are you ready for that? You may be without a kitchen for some time, or you may lose access to your master bath for a few weeks and have to share with the kiddos (eek!). There will be noise, drywall dust, strange people in and out and the stress can be overwhelming for some. This is why working with the right contractor, who knows how to put together a well-planned, and well-executed construction plan, is vitally important.

Step #7 (Final Stop) Team Communication

For the last stop on our Smooth-Running Project Road Map, lets detour back to Team Communication. This remains the single most critical element of a well-run project. Scheduling a once a week (at minimum) meeting with the project manager is a great way to keep up-to-date with the status of the project, any bumps in the road coming up, any discovered opportunities and generally a chance to discuss the little things going on. Because, experience tells us…it’s the little things that make the big differences!

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