Tips for Planning a Successful House remodel: Where to Start and Mistakes to Avoid

Thinking about remodeling your house? It’s an exciting prospect, but it can get complex really quickly. With proper planning and the right contractor, your home will be transformed to your exacting vision.

It’s important to remember that without a good strategy and forethought, your project can quickly be derailed, your budget can get out of whack and you can overshoot your timeline.

What you should know before remodeling your house

All the components of your remodeling project need to be in order before the first nail meets wood. Permits, tools, trash dumpster, materials and contractors need to be lined up and ready to go.

Taking on a big remodeling project can be exiting, but it’s important to keep your emotions in check throughout the process, especially during the planning phase. If an awesome kitchen design caught your eye in your favorite DIY magazine, don’t get ahead of yourself – work out your budget to see what you can and cannot have.

Basically, the smoothest remodels follow clear thinking during the planning/design phase, reasonable decision-making skills when it comes to choosing materials and a thorough contractor vetting process.

What type of remodeling project are you planning?

Is your kitchen stuck in the 1970s? Does your bathroom make you cringe? Is the basement unfinished and ready for a makeover, or does your entire home need a basic remodel? These are questions homeowners ask themselves everyday, but what goes on in the typical remodel? Here are some of the most frequently tackled by homeowners:

  • Whole house remodeling

    An extensive whole house remodel is an ambitious project, but it is a transformative experience involving a complete redesign of the entire home. Talk to your trusted design and build contractor to plan your project and you will avoid the usual problems that occur in such large projects.

  • Kitchen remodeling

    From installing new countertops to updating your cabinets to upgrading all the fixtures and appliances – a kitchen remodel is a popular choice as more and more families transform their kitchens into a common area where the entire family goes for entertainment as well as food preparation.

  • Bathroom remodeling

    Take that boring bathroom and transform it into an area where you can have a spa-like experience. Remove the old shower and install a multi-head unit and a tub with water jets. From simple facelifts to entire overhauls, homeowners are only limited in what they do by their budget or vision.

  • Basement remodeling

    This popular option involves turning old, vacant basements that are used for nothing more than storage and transforms it into usable space. It can involve building an en suite with a small kitchen to transforming it into a high-end entertainment area – the choice is yours.

  • House additions

    Whether you’re building up or out, a house addition brings you the extra square footage you desire. Growing families require more space, as do multi-generational families who want extra space for the in-laws/parents. Like a whole house remodel, a house addition is an ambitious project requiring expert planning.

What does your vision for your home remodel look like? Talk to a design and build contractor and flesh out your ideas.

Where should you start first when remodeling a house?

There is no better place to start when remodeling a house than with a home inspection. A qualified inspector will get into your attic and look for damp areas and check air circulation. The inspector will look over your electrical system, plumbing, foundation and all other important areas of the home to find issues that could cause a snag later.

Furthermore, if the inspector does find big problems, such as a cracked foundation, it’s wise to put off what you had planned for renovations and take care of the big problems first.

Next, consider how efficient your doors and windows are. Are the windows double paned? Are they Energy Star rated? Windows and doors aren’t as fun as remodeling a kitchen or your bathrooms, but it can offer a return on investment that can help you fund future remodeling projects.

Finally, take a look at your heating and air conditioning systems. Are they old? Do they actually keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter? With any luck, a simple fix will take care of your problems, but it might also be time for a complete replacement, which is another project that should be tackled before you embark on any major remodeling.

What are the steps to remodel a house?

Your first priority is to sit down and start planning how this remodel is going to play out. You’re going to think of all your wants and needs and how much of the project you can do on your own and what you’ll need to contract out. Here’s a sample checklist:

1) List out all the reasons you are taking on this project. What is it about your home that you currently don’t like and how do you plan to correct that?

2) Set priorities so your project goes smoother. What are the things that you really need and what are the things that you merely want? Go ahead and make a wish list while you’re at it and see if your budget can handle them.

3) Develop a design or work with a designer to lay out a blueprint of what your new space will involve. Having a visual representation will make the process more efficient and provide you a more accurate cost determination.

4) Take a hard look at your budget. Be realistic about what you can afford to invest in this project and know your absolute limits. Plan for overages, because remodeling projects are prone to going over the original budget, which is why a contingency plan must be established before you begin.

5) Talk to your insurance agent and see how a remodel will, if at all, impact your premium. Also, make sure your policy covers injuries to anyone inside the home during the time of remodel.

6) Fully vet your contractors. Ask around and see what your neighbors say about the contractors they’ve worked with. When you whittle it down to a group of finalists, ask the contractors for references and make them show proof that they’re insured, licensed and certified.

7) Get a final cost analysis to ensure that what you have in mind for your project can actually be accomplished within your budget.

What not to do when remodeling your home

If you’re married to the DIY concept of home remodeling, just know where your limits are. Map out your skill sets before you start your project and when you get to a point where you’re probably going to run into something too complex, step back and call in a professional. Don’t proceed without full confidence that you can pull it off.

Another thing to consider is who is going to assist you with your project. Don’t make the huge mistake of bringing in novices to help, because in their desire to please you and try to be of service, the inexperienced helper can really set your project back in terms of time and money.

Building codes are in place for a reason, and it isn’t just to irk you. Permits are a necessary part of the project because they protect you and anyone who comes to your property. Don’t make the mistake of failing to pull a permit.

If you’re looking to bring in outside help to handle your home remodeling project, don’t pick the cheapest one of the bunch unless you’ve fully vetted other contractors and find their experience to be of quality. Bring in the wrong contractor and you will soon regret it.

How much does it cost to remodel a house?

According to Home Advisor’s 2018 breakdown, the cost of home remodeling projects goes as follows:

  • Basement: $18,711, which is the average for projects that include installing floors, building walls, adding plumbing and electrical lines and furnishing the room.
  • Kitchen: $4,500 for a small kitchen and up to $49,000 for a large, high-end kitchen. This includes cabinetry, hardware, appliances, countertops and flooring.
  • Bathroom: $6,000 to $14,000. Includes installing tub, shower, cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, sink and toilet.
  • Roof: $1,700 to $8,400: This is the cost for an asphalt-shingled roof. The larger the roof the more the cost. Higher end materials, such as wood shake, can run the cost up to nearly $19,000. Slate is among the most expensive, starting at around $17,000 and running up to $120,000 if you’ve got a sizeable home/roof.
  • Permits: A simple project might involve permit fees of only $100. Larger projects can tally up fees to around $3,000. However, most homeowners will spend between $400 and $1,450.

The size and scope of your project will determine the cost. If you want higher-end furnishings and appliances, you’re obviously going to need a larger budget.

How long does it take to completely remodel a house?

Assuming that you’ve planned ahead and have everything ready for your project to begin, the answer to this is totally dependent on the scope of your project. You could be looking at a week to 10 days to complete a smaller project, but larger ones can take multiple months to complete.

If you’re working with a contractor, give them space to do what they do. The more you question them about what’s going on the less work they can get done. Requesting updates from time to time is not an issue, but remember that they’re professionals and know what they’re doing. If they run into a snag or anything that might impact the budget, they’ll let you know before they proceed.

Get a smooth start on your remodeling project

At New Concept 180, our designers will work with you on your remodeling project, whether it’s a simple one-room facelift, a housing addition or a full on whole house remodel.

Our build team works directly with the designers to ensure every item on your list is perfected. In fact, we’ve got every type of professional required to take care of everything in your house remodeling project. Contact us today and let’s talk about your remodel.

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