What to Expect When Remodeling Your Home
Remodeling your home might seem like a simple undertaking from the outside looking in: just hire a contractor, choose the materials and the work will be done in a matter of weeks, right? Unfortunately, not every contracting job runs as smoothly as the homeowner might hope. Materials might not arrive on time, unexpected issues could create a need to increase the budget — and your one-month deadline could easily be extended to two months. If you're planning on remodeling your home in the Valley, it is important to think realistically and plan for any potential setbacks.
Choosing a Contractor and Managing Timelines
Your contractor might tell you that they can knock down all the walls in your kitchen and remodel two bathrooms in one month. Why? They want to be hired. But when contractors give you a timeframe, they aren't including potential setbacks.
If you want an easier remodeling experience, select a contractor with the right expertise. For example, if you are remodeling your master bathroom, hire contractors who regularly work with plumbing and installing water-resistant materials.
In addition to looking at online reviews, try to get at least three quotes from local contractors before hiring one. You'll find the best prices and the most reliable professionals this way. Meet with the contractor and check their references so you can get a feel for the way he or she runs a construction job. Once you’ve selected a contractor you trust, here are some ways that you can keep your expectations realistic:
- Add at least five days onto the anticipated completion date quoted. If materials are delayed or contractors are waiting for permits, this can set back the finish line.
- Think logically, use your best judgment and understand that contractors are giving you an "estimated" date.
- Plan for the worst. If issues arise, figure out how you’ll deal with any additional costs or time involved.
No matter how well you plot out a renovation prior to getting started, unexpected circumstances can happen. By following these steps, you’ll be prepared and ready to respond if things don't go as planned.
Costs & Financing Options
Conduct online research to determine what a reasonable cost for your renovation might be. When receiving quotes, make sure to understand industry standards before you get started. Will your new gourmet kitchen cost $20,000 or $75,000? Can you repaint cabinets to save money? Are you wanting high-end finishes?
Look for remodels with similar designs, layouts and finishes, and inquire how much the renovations cost. That way, if you're quoted $10,000 to remodel a gourmet kitchen, you know that contractor is likely lowballing to get the job — or he/she plans on cutting corners or using substandard materials.
When it comes time to pay for remodeling costs, there are many options available. While many homeowners don’t have the cash on-hand to pay for a full kitchen renovation, if you have equity in your home you can take out a loan or line of credit. A home equity loan will give you the cash you need upfront for a major remodel, while a home equity line of credit (HELOC) gives homeowners the flexibility to borrow varying amounts as they need them. The latter works great if you have multiple renovation projects, need to pay contractors individually or worry you may have additional costs as the project progresses. The first step is to contact a loan officer, who will help you determine the loan that’s right for you.
Budgeting for your Remodeling Project
When making a budget for your home renovation project, you’ll want to speak with your contractor to determine realistic costs for the materials, finishes and upgrades you want. If you’re having difficulty settling on a project that’s within your means:
- Consider cost-efficient alternatives such as wood-grain ceramic tile or laminate instead of hardwood
- Decide whether costs for knocking down or building walls are worth it, or whether you can get a similar result by creating a pass-thru or adding windows
- Budget for appliances, gas lines, electric and piping, etc.
It is essential to consider all costs, especially those you don't see! This is why you must discuss details with your contractor to understand the true cost of remodeling and to find ways to reduce overall expenses.
The Bottom Line
Remodeling your home can be well worth the expense, whether you’re upgrading to better fit your needs or looking to get top dollar when you sell. The key to success is having realistic expectations and finding the right contractor. Be flexible, ask lots of questions and look forward to the day when you can walk into your newly remodeled home for the first time and smile.