Ask and you shall receive! A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to know if you had any questions about the renovation process and boy did you deliver! There were so many good questions and so many of them are things we should all know before going into a renovation or will experience at some point. I’m happy to divulge alllll the answers and tips about renovations.
Common Home Remodeling Questions & Answers
Is it true that all renovations go over budget and schedule?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is the more complicated the project, the more potential issues that come up which impacts the budget and overall schedule. If you’re starting a renovation during a healthy economy you’ll find that contractors and subs have enough work to go around and sadly the smaller projects become low priority. The best way to plan for budget and schedule changes is give yourself a 15% contingency on top of all estimates you get. Also double the schedule/timeline you create with the GC.
How do I save on renovation costs?
The easiest way to save money is to take on some of the projects yourself as a DIY. I strongly discourage trying to do electrical, plumbing or tilework unless that’s your area of expertise. However, painting, putting up framing, installing insulation and drywall, and hanging doors are all things you can do yourself and save money. Alan and I did all of the painting ourselves, plus he hung up all of the doors and trim. We also had to do some minor framing work to drop the floor ahead of the hot mop and tile installation which Alan did himself to keep us on schedule.
Where should I start? How do I create a timeline?
For starters, identify your project and budget. Are you looking to renovate a kitchen for $50,000 or update a bathroom for under $2,500? Next, get estimates for the work you’ll be sourcing out to a GC or to the trades. Identify what you can do yourself to save costs. When the GC or the trades give you a budget ask them for their timeline and schedule and what needs to get done before they start. For example, framing needs to start before electrical can begin his work, but can’t finish until drywall and painting are all done. From there drop everything into a calendar so you can start building your schedule. Be sure to add in extra time for delays. Inspections by the City can cause delays so take note of those key dates and give yourself a day or so to get through each inspection.
Should I hire a General Contractor or manage it myself?
When we did our kitchen renovation, Alan and I served as the GC and subbed out all of the trades. I was 8 months pregnant at the time and Alan’s job was flexible so we both spent a lot of time scheduling, meeting, and managing the work. We saves money but we also spent a ton of time managing everyone. I have to admit that being 9 months pregnant toward the end of the project forced everyone to work faster so I could bring my baby home to a nice place (not a construction zone). With this renovation, we asked my cousin’s husband who is a licensed GC to manage it all for us. He didn’t make any money off of us (praise be!) but we made sure the timeline and trades all showed up when they needed to. Yes, we still fell behind schedule but we did not have an insane overage on costs. If you do hire a GC, you’ll end up paying 20% more since they’ll be handling everything for you.
Should I hire someone to design the plans?
It depends on the level and type of work you’re doing. I would first start with visiting your local permit services center and discuss your renovation plans with the building and/or planning staff. They’ll let you know exactly what approvals you need and whether or not you’ll need a licensed architect and/or engineer to prepare plans. Fortunately for us, Alan was trained as an architect so he drew up all of the plans. After visiting with the building and planning staff, he confirmed that we didn’t’ need any structural or advanced plans.
How do I create a moodboard?
Start by creating a collage or Pinterest board for inspiration. Pull all of your favorite elements together and voila you have your mood board. From there see if there is a unifying theme whether it’s color, print, finish or overall aesthetic. Make a list of everything you’ll need for the renovation or project and start sourcing items from various websites. Head to Instagram and see what your favorite interior designers or bloggers are tagging in their posts to give you a head start on brands and products you should be adding to your renovation board.