9 of Our Best Remodeling Tips

When your home no longer serves the needs of your lifestyle or your family, doing some remodeling is often a good solution to adapt your current home and avoid having to move. Unfortunately, the excitement that comes with home renovations can quickly be overshadowed by unforeseen problems, budgets that are stretched too thin, and issues you didn’t plan for.

If you are thinking about doing a home renovation, we hope these tips will help you avoid some unnecessary problems, costs, and headaches that often accompany remodeling projects:

Begin with the End in Mind

You likely have a vision for your renovation project – how the space look once the project is completed. Some solid advice includes having just about everything picked out before you begin the work. There will be lots of decisions to be made once the project is underway, so the more you have determined beforehand, the better off you will be. You will be more educated about your choices going into those other in-progress decisions, your budget will be more accurate, and you will save yourself some stress as well. Talk to your contractor, visit showrooms, and do your online homework ahead of time.

Set a Realistic Budget

Every home project needs a budget to keep costs in check. It can be challenging, however, to stick to the budget once the project kicks off. Supply stores and design houses are like candy to remodelers, and you can quickly find yourself adding in extras because you fall in love with the fancier sink, or “now is the perfect time to do this” thoughts comes into play. It’s essential to get an accurate understanding of pricing, for both materials and labor, before you begin so that you can better gauge expenses and expectations. You will very likely add on extras, no matter how good your self-control, and unforeseen items typically crop up during a project, so plan an overage of 10% – 30% to accommodate these extra costs. If you don’t use it, great, but it’s there so your budget won’t become your beast of burden.

It’s NOT as Seen on TV

Unfortunately, DIY and home improvement shows can be very misleading in terms of costs and time. They make everything look easy and doable in a day! In reality, your remodel will not likely come with dozens of crew people jumping in to finish things quickly, and you want your project to be completed for the long-term, not just to look good for a camera shot. Think practically about what you can and cannot do, and talk to professionals about how much certain aspects of your project will cost and how long it takes to complete them. Even a “simple” bathroom remodel takes far longer than one weekend, and getting yourself in over your head in a DIY project can result in it costing far more in the end.

Determine a Sensible Scope of Work

One of the biggest mistakes people make when renovating their home is biting off more than they can handle by way of costs or disruption. Take some time to ask the tough questions about what you really need versus what you would like. Be realistic not just about how much work you can afford, but also how much disruption you can accommodate in your life. Can you really live without a kitchen for an extended period of time, or sleep in the basement for a few months? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the important step is to think through the project and consider what makes sense for your household. This process also helps in planning the schedule and sequencing of your project.

Get Professional Assistance

Even skilled DIYers usually need some professional assistance during certain aspects of a remodeling project. Whether that is an architect, kitchen designer, or licensed plumber or electrician, find your professionals before you begin your renovation. You may decide to have a general contractor manage your entire project, or you may want to hire individual subcontractors as necessary, but speaking with these professionals ahead of time will greatly assist you in making sure your budget, timeline and construction plans are sound. Recommendations from friends and neighbors are a great place to start, and always check a professional’s references, insurance and certifications to ensure you are working with a qualified professional. Equally important is finding contractors that you feel comfortable working with. You don’t want to get half way into your remodel and realize you need to find someone, that can halt your progress and slow down your completion timeline considerably.

Prepare Your Home

Don’t just move your belongings off to the side and cover them with a dropcloth, or jam everything into other rooms during your remodel. Keep the work zones, and your living spaces, as clear as possible by packing up furniture and personal items. For a large remodel, consider renting a storage unit or an onsite storage pod to keep your belongings secure, clean and safe during the project. It’s much easier to work efficiently when there is not unnecessary clutter under foot.

Keep People and Pets Safe

Home remodeling projects are full-fledged worksites and can be very dangerous. From open wall cavities and stairwells, to sharp tools and electrical cords, and dangerous chemicals, these areas are no place for children or pets. Plan for extra safety gates, sealed off areas, and possibly extra baby- or pet-sitting, to ensure your smaller family members are kept safe and sound.

Prepare for Inconvenience and Discomfort

Unless you are fortunate enough to have another home to move to during your remodeling project, plan to have your life turned upside down for a period of time. There will be days without running water or electricity, areas of your home will be a messy construction site (and potentially a dangerous one!), and construction projects are noisy and dusty. If you are prepared ahead of time to live in discomfort, you will probably handle it better.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

One thing that can be guaranteed about all remodeling projects – things will go wrong and some days will be very frustrating! We all like things to go according to plan, but the reality of renovation projects is that unexpected issues will occur, sometimes designs have to be adjusted, and not everything will turn out the way you imagined. It can be easy for tempers to flare. Stay out of the blame-game, and look to solutions and compromises. Keep your eye on the prize, and remember that this won’t last forever. In the end you will have your newly remodeled area that serves your needs and shines with its new products and surfaces!

At Nautilus Construction, we specialize in custom home remodeling and home renovations. We work in partnership with our clients to design the remodel you are envisioning, and our expansive resources in the design and custom fabrication areas allow us to accommodate whatever your needs may be. Please contact us to discuss your ideas – we’d love to help you build your dream!

Market Competition

Pros:

With the real estate market still booming, the national average for the number of days an existing home is on the market is only 30 days! That means you have to be ready to jump as soon as a home is listed for sale, and with that level of competition, your offer better be a sweet one. When you build a home, however, the competition component decreases considerably. Fewer people are in a position to build a home, so there are less people competing with you for land, building packages, and development building sites.

Cons:

Because building new homes means the necessity for available land, it might be tougher to find a parcel in your desired town or neighborhood. Housing developments may not be as plentiful in your desired area either. When you do find a development you like, the likelihood of there being a set realtor, builder, and home design that you must work with is high, so you may need to sacrifice the professionals you prefer to work with for the entities doing the development.

Whereas you can negotiate sales price on an existing home based on issues such as work and upgrades needed, when you build a home there is much less negotiation on price. Build packages are designed with very set margins, and even with a custom-built home, your contractor can only do so much to get you the details you want and still make the profit margin they need to stay in business.

Customization

Pros:

Customization of the house style, features, and other details is obviously a huge pro when you build a house. You can select and personalize all the details of your house when you build it from the ground up – the floorplan and layout, elements such as woodwork and flooring, and fixtures including appliances and door knobs. You can customize any and all of your home’s details to fit your lifestyle and tastes. The rooms can be painted to your preferred colors before you move in, and you can even have the landscaping completed to your liking immediately.

Cons:

When you purchase a build package in a development, you may have more restrictions for customization choices. The timeframe for making different selections is also usually very tight. The developer/builder is working on multiple properties at once, and time is money for a residential builders. You will likely have some opportunity for customization, usually in the form of options and allowances (a set selection of finishes within a specific budget that your purchase includes). Expect options including color choices (although they may be limited), flooring options, and certain finishes and landscaping.

For some, building a custom home represents too many decision to make. At every stage of the build, you will need to decide on design details, select finishes, and decide how to handle changes as they occur. This can be too much pressure, and require way more time and energy than some people have to give. Building a new home is a project – so be sure you are ready to manage all those decisions.

Timeframe

Pros:

When you build a home, you won’t be able to move in right away. The average new construction home take at least seven months to complete, and the more customized the build, the longer it will take to complete. You will have to plan time to do research and meet with your architect and/or builder, but you will have the opportunity to think through design decisions and make ones that are best for you and your family. You will have time to truly create the home of your dreams.

Cons:

The additional time required to move into your new home can be difficult for people. If you have sold your previous home, you may have to find temporary housing, and it can leave a family feeling displaced. It takes time to find specialty finishes, create custom woodwork, and achieve the finer nuances of design that you might want. The level of frustration with the process timeframe can build, and be too much for some people (and some couples) to endure.

Financial Implications

Pros:

If you are planning to build a new home instead of purchase a home already built, you can research the projected costs of the type of home you plan to build and save accordingly. You might have some extra time to find just the right loan package, and even wait for the interest rates to drop.

Cons:

Because of the extended timeframe before your new home is ready to move into, building a new home can be more costly. You will essentially be maintaining two homes during the building project, one that you live in, and one you are paying for as it is built. You need to be sure you have the financial stability to handle these extra living expenses, as well as the likely overages in the budget when you make upgrades (you will make upgrades!).

Emotional Resilience

Pros:

Building a new home can be an incredibly rewarding process. You can exercise all of your creative abilities into designing a truly inspired home built just for you and your family. Because you have built it from scratch, and participated in every step of the process, it will be unique to you, unlike any other home.

Cons:

Building a new home from the ground up isn’t for everyone. The timeframe can feel as if it is dragging on, making decisions about so many details can get frustrating, and communications and negotiations with your builder and other trades can get exasperating. Building budgets most often go over budget, due in large part to decisions you will make for unplanned upgrades and changing your mind mid-stream. These changes are par for the course and to be expected, but if you don’t plan for this budget overage allowance, it can add to the stress of building new. Because it is such an emotionally charged project, relationships will either get stronger or suffer. Being prepared ahead of time for the many challenges of building will go a long way to maintaining healthy relationships throughout the process.

At Nautilus Construction, we specialize in building custom homes. We work in partnership with our clients to design the home you are envisioning, and our expansive resources in the design and custom fabrication areas allow us to handle all the stages of building a house. Please contact us to discuss your ideas – we’d love to help you build your dream!


© Copyright Nautilus Construction 2022

Chris Legare of Nautilus Construction is a general contractor in Southern Maine, specializing in Design Build Construction, general contracting and remodeling. Serving Kennebunk, Wells, York, Saco, Portland, Scarborough and beyond.

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