Goals and budget — what are they?
Here in New England, homes often have funky or outdated layouts, and are smaller in size and expensive! Need more space or a better layout? One option, of course, is moving. However, you may love your particular location. Or perhaps, you have a sentimental attachment to your home, a place where you’ve shared many special memories. In this case, a home remodel may make more sense.
Determining clear goals is one of the critical first steps. They will guide the project, ensure that it meets your needs, and prevent misunderstandings with contractors. Start by identifying what areas of your home are the biggest pain points – what will have the most significant impact on your daily life and the value of your home? For example, a hideous guest bathroom may not be as important to update as a nonfunctioning mudroom or kitchen. Will you be updating or reconfiguring your existing space or will you be adding square footage to your home? As you can imagine, the latter is exponentially more expensive and complex.
Consider how long you plan to reside in the home as well. Is this your “forever” home? Look into features that promote accessibility and allow you to age in place comfortably. You also may want to incorporate more energy-efficient features, which may be more economical in the long run. If resale is in your near to mid-term future, consider renovations that tend to yield the highest return on investment. Hint: Kitchens and bathrooms!
The internet is a treasure trove of inspiration and ideas. Look through Pinterest, Houzz, or your favorite designers’ websites and compile all of your ideas into a folder or mood board to share with potential contractors. Make sure you have selected and communicated your design style — as this will influence materials, colors, and finishings so that your finished product can fit cohesively within your home.
Determining how much you are willing to spend will play a significant role in shaping your goals since it will impact everything from the general scope of the project down to the fit and finishings. Be realistic and determine how you will source the funds for the project. Unfortunately, higher interest rates and the cost of raw materials as well as a tight labor market have increased the cost of any home improvement project over the past few years.
Find the right partner!
How do you choose the right contractor? Start with asking for recommendations from friends or family and consult online reviews from reputable sources. During your initial meetings, request references and reach out to previous clients. Look through portfolios of similar projects and make sure to pay attention to the quality and style of their projects. This will give you an idea of their capabilities and if you have similar design styles. Most importantly, make sure to check all of your potential partners’ credentials, licenses, and insurance coverage. Any contractor must be both qualified and professional.
In the design-build world, potential contractors should provide a detailed proposal for the design and construction phases of the project, which will include cost estimates and timelines. They should explain what type of service and deliverables (such as renderings, assistance in product selection, etc,) will be provided to you, the client. They should also detail how and when they and their team will communicate with you throughout the design and build process, as well as lay out the payment schedule and process. When comparing estimates from multiple contractors, always be sure you understand the differences between each approach, to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
During any home renovation, it can feel like there are so many steps that need to happen before construction can even begin.
In the design-build world, your contractor should take care of the following line items:
1. Creating a clear scope of work. Your firm should provide you with a realistic timeline, budget, and scope of all work. Having your project well-planned will make it more likely to stay on track.
2. Ordering materials. In a post-Covid world, getting your hands on products and materials can be a lengthy process. During the design phase, you should have sourced and selected items like plumbing fixtures, cabinets, lighting, etc. If any of your selections need to be specially ordered, make sure to allow for extra time. Check in with your contractor to determine where items will be delivered, or who may be picking them up from a showroom.
3. Obtaining necessary permits. Most home renovation projects typically necessitate building permits, and there may be additional permissions required. Do you reside in a community governed by a Homeowners’ Association (HOA)? Does your location fall within a Historic District? Will you need a variance? Obtaining permits and permissions can be a lengthy process, particularly in history-rich New England. It is crucial to start this process as early as possible.
4. Planning for dust, noise, and safety. Renovations are messy, noisy, and disruptive! Your contractor should install dust barriers, plastic sheets, dumpsters, port-o-lets, and safety measures on-site. If possible, move all living quarters out of the construction area. For example, during a kitchen renovation, some folks install temp sinks in their relocated “kitchen area,” which could be an extra bedroom or a dining room. During extensive work, consider making alternate living arrangements if necessary.
As a homeowner, you have responsibilities too!
1. Clear the work area. Remove furniture, valuables, and belongings. For a kitchen renovation, pack up the contents of your cabinets and relocate any items you’ll need during the period of work. Make arrangements for pets or your move into a temporary space, if necessary.
2. Be flexible! If there’s one guarantee during any home renovation, it’s that there will be a surprise or two along the way. Luckily, your contractor should expect and plan for these and communicate openly with you during every phase of the process. They should also be flexible and be able to make adjustments on the fly in an attempt to keep your project on time and within budget. However, it’s important for the homeowner to also be flexible and ready to adapt to unexpected changes to the project.
3. Communicate! Your contractor should maintain open and regular communication with you at every stage of your project. Nevertheless, it’s equally crucial for you to stay in contact as well. If you notice anything of concern or wish to make minor adjustments to the project, addressing these matters as early as possible increases the likelihood of staying on time and on budget as well as avoiding any misunderstandings.
Finally – the work can start
During your remodel, your design-build firm should efficiently manage all aspects of the project, from assisting in the selection of materials, detailing the project schedule, and problem-solving as needed along the way. They should carefully manage the project’s budget, track expenses, and communicate ways to keep costs within the agreed limits. Your contractor should also schedule and oversee all trade partner work, to ensure they stay on time and maintain high quality standards. Finally, they should also make sure all inspections are scheduled and complied with and keep your work area clean and organized.
Your partner should also keep track of all documents — including contracts, permits, change orders, and receipts. Here at Godfrey Design-Build we also provide our clients with a Homeowner Manual at the end of every project. This details all of the selected products, including model numbers, product guides, and warranties. Need to match a tile or paint color years down the road? Having this document at your fingertips is a valuable resource.
Every home renovation project will come with challenges! They are complex and unexpected issues will arise. By following these tips and being well-prepared, you can navigate the renovation process and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the results in your newly improved home.
At Godfrey Design-Build, we’re dedicated to helping you create a space that is not only stunning but also highly practical and tailored to your unique preferences. Interested in learning more? Contact us today.