How to Start a Home Remodel

How to Start a Home Remodel

Could your home use a tune-up? If you find yourself complaining about a cramped kitchen, a living room that i€™s hard to live with, or generally dated design, it may be time to remodel. Whether you a€™re redoing one room or the whole house, the project will proceed much more smoothly if you know what to expect beforehand. Get your home remodel project off to a smooth start with these tips.

Home Remodel - Create a Stylebook

Start collecting examples of what you see when you envision your newly remodeled home. Think about your biggest design priorities and gather some photos of similar projects that inspire you. Try Pinterest, home improvement and lifestyle magazines, or samples from your remodeler for ideas and see what themes emerge. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) suggests looking at traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how you plan to use the space once it i€™s remodeled.

Refine Your Design with a Professional

Build on your initial remodeling ideas with a designer  who can bring your dreams to life. Explain your priorities for the project and your goals for the finished space. If you a€™re currently stuck with a layout that a€™s unnecessarily complicated and impedes foot traffic, for example, a design professional can help reshape the space so that people flow through more easily. If your remodel has to accommodate special needs - for example, creating better access for someone with mobility limitations - your designer can factor this in and even bring in a specialist if necessary. The design firm you choose can also help you develop a reasonable budget and timetable for your project, as well as walk you through any tradeoffs that are necessary to bridge the gap between your wildest dreams vs. what you can afford.

Iron Out the Details

Agree on the schedule before any work starts and request a written proposal so that everyone involved is on the same page. No aspect of the remodel is too small to cover in this agreement, notes NAHB: €œThere are a lot of little details that need to be settled before work starts. What times of day will they be working? Will he or she access the property? How will cleanup be handled? What will they do to a protect your property?” The agreement should also cover how change orders will be handled, and any change orders you do end up needing should be provided in writing because they will affect both the schedule and budget.

Sign the Contract

Though signing the formal contract is the last step before your remodel can begin, don`€™t be tempted to rush through it. The contract for your project deserves a careful eye. It should be well-written and comprehensive and cover all of the little details you discussed previously (such as access to your home and cleanup), as well as a timetable, the final price, a payment schedule, and procedures for change orders and conflict resolution. Specifications for all products and materials to be used in the project should appear here as well. The contract should also cover all insurance and permit information related to your project, lien releases, and a notice of your right under the FTC`€™s Cooling Off Rule (your right to cancel the contract within three days if you signed it somewhere other than the remodeler`€™s place of business). 

Get Started

The big day has finally arrived! Say goodbye to the old design - it`€™s time for the contractors to execute the vision you developed with your design firm. A well-crafted contract will help you avoid most of the headaches that homeowners can run into (including the access, cleanup, and work hours details that you ironed out earlier in the process). All that`€™s left to do is be patient while your new home takes shape.


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