Tips for your next renovation project:
A savvy homeowner should always start with prioritizing on projects based on specific needs, budget restrictions, availability of time and set goals. Once you have made up your mind on the project you want to take on, say kitchen renovation, you want to stablish the following points:
- Budget: having a budget will allow you to really understand how big of a project you will be able to afford. We all have dreams we want to accomplish in a kitchen renovation and having a number to work with will improve your ability to make decisions, prioritize and execute within a realistic framework. Your contractor will also appreciate working with you as you will be prepared to understand the implication of decisions you will probably have to make that may or may not affect the final result of the project.
- The 10% rule: we advise all of our customers to always maintain a 10% of the total budget saved in case. Neither you nor your contractor can predict the unpredictable and you never know what you will find behind the wall, no matter how old or new you think your house may be or how much you think you know your house, it is always better to be prepared
- DIY shows are great but… these shows are very entertaining, even we get excited watching them, but keep in mind they are shows, design to entertain and can never be your only reference point. We encourage people to talk to family members and friends before taking on a renovation project. Ask if they had a good experience with a contractor in the past, or if they know someone with good credentials. Do some preliminary research on cost of certain materials that will be used in your project such as cost of a gallon of paint, average cost of a kitchen cabinet, etc. This preliminary research will help you understand an estimate from a contractor and will allow the vision of knowing when you are paying too much or when you are getting a deal (both of which are red flags if you as us). Set realistic expectations for yourself and your contractor
- Know your limitations: we can all paint, but a professional painter will save you time, effort and money, and the last results may be impressive in comparison. They have their own tools and equipment and the expertise to know what to do in every scenario. There are many details on a renovation project, and knowing how to handle those details will determine the final cost, duration of the project and end result and quality of the project
- Ask questions: unless you do renovations for a living, in which case you may not need us, you will always have questions and you should always ask your contractor questions like: what kind of paint will you use? Are the cabinets particle board made? Do you clean up after yourselves?
- Ask for Drawings: a picture is worth a thousand words, and in renovations a drawing may be worth thousands of dollars as it presents you and your contractor the opportunity to visualize the entire project in a simple and effective manner. You will be able to see light fixture locations, cabinets’ layout, and distance from wall to wall and windows, how doors open, etc. Drawings are an excellent tool to make sure details and important items are understood by you and your contractor prior to removing the first nail. This understanding represents less headaches, “he says, she says”, saves material cost, saves time and time is money. It will also make for a much smoother relationship between you and your contractor
- Once you begin, get with the program: adding items to a project, changing things in the middle of the way and other “why don’t we do this…?” questions will compromise the entire project and your budget. It is always ideal to cover all aspects prior to the beginning of any project since there are many logistics associated with every step of it. From scheduling sub-contractors to delivery of materials, all aspect of a project are connected one way or another with each other and orchestrating these is a challenge per se, so avoid having to disrupt the orchestration once the symphony has already started
- Schedules are flexible: because there are many unpredictable potential situations, keep an open mind in terms of scheduling. There are things not even the best contractors can predict: weather, accidents, break down of equipment, etc. will affect the schedule and may delay projects. Availability of materials and fixtures, delays on deliveries may also happen. A good contractor will inform you of any delay and its consequence in the scheme of things and will always work around them when possible. Remember we get paid upon completion of projects, so there is also an inherent interest in moving your project forward
- Walk-throughs and warranties: It is important for you to maintain an open channel of communication with your contractor. You will have the opportunity to do a walk-through towards the end of the project with your contractor. You and your contractor will prepare a list of items to address we call a “punch list” which should contain small things like a touch up paint her or there, adjusting a door, etc. If you see that something may be wrong during the renovation, don’t wait until the end to inform your contractor. Remember you are part of the team too and your eyes may catch something other won’t. Speak out, ask questions. A timely observation may save you tons of time and money so, don’t be shy. Most contractors offer labor warranties which only covers workmanship for a period of time, other may include certain materials. Ask your contractor so you can set expectations. Your contractor always wants you to be satisfied and happy with their services so you can promote their business and recommend them, so even after the specified warranty time has expired, ask them for help. You will be surprised.