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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Kitchen remodels vary drastically from small enhancements to complete overhauls. Whether you want to make some minor improvements like additional cupboards or a built-in breakfast nook, or your kitchen is dreadfully outdated and you want to completely update your design and appliances, where do you start? Do you need an architect? A kitchen designer? A remodeling contractor?
At Nautilus Construction, we prefer a team approach to kitchen projects. We bring in the necessary professionals at the outset, and work together to determine the best design and project implementation. Let’s take a look at who the players in your kitchen remodel might be:
Architects are educated in design theory, project management, and building engineering. They work with clients to assess the architectural space, draw up plans and designs, and in many cases, oversee the entire project management. They usually have contractors that they work with, and can help with soliciting work estimates, choosing contactors and vendors, and keep your project moving forward smoothly. Because an architect’s real specialty is design and the best use of spaces, they can offer aesthetically pleasing and innovative design solutions.
A Kitchen Designer
Kitchen designers do not have the same academic background or licensing as architects, and are not typically trained in any engineering or building concepts. A kitchen designer is a type of interior designer who works with clients to create, remodel or update a kitchen’s layout, design elements, and fixtures. With a kitchen designer you discuss materials, themes, colors and patterns, and room layout. Designers keep up with the most current kitchen trends, so can help with incorporating the latest styles, layouts and innovated products to incorporate in your new kitchen. A kitchen designer will help you create a functional and attractive space.
A Remodeling Contractor
Building contractors who specialize in remodeling and kitchens will provide the nuts and bolts of getting your kitchen remodeling project completed. Their experience and knowledge pertains to building construction, sequencing of work, project management, and overseeing all the necessary trades involved in the project. They will make sure all the demolition occurs safely, install new materials, and either complete or oversee trades such as plumbing and electrical upgrades. Because a remodeling contractor likely has the most hands-on experience in this group of professionals, their expertise and knowledge is critical to your new kitchen remodel going smoothly and staying on budget.
What about costs?
Architects are not cheap, but they will ensure your new kitchen floor doesn’t sag and you can safely remove a wall to open up your space. Designers tend to charge less per hour than architects, but their structural skills are likely not comparable and they usually do not offer project management. You might hire a designer to create drawings of your overall look based on your needs, wants, space and budget. An architect might be useful to ensure all your proposed changes will actually work structurally within the building. Building and remodeling contractors charge based on the scope of the project, what role they will play in project management, and other trades that they will need to oversee and coordinate with during the project.
So where do you begin?
In some cases, you may only need a designer to help you figure out the look and functionality you want. In other cases, with larger remodels, you may need an architect for the building designs and a designer to help achieve the décor look you desire. In all cases, you need to work with a reputable, experienced contractor to help you get all the work completed.
Many people bring in their architect and/or kitchen designer first to create the design, then seek out the contractor who can create a plan of action and complete the remodel work. The challenge in this approach is that once your contractor is on board, they may very well identify issues and specifications that haven’t been considered. This will require your architect or designer to redraw designs and blueprints to fit the updated specifications. This is when projects become less efficient and budgets begin to dissolve.
At Nautilus Construction, we like to be involved right from the outset of your new kitchen concept, and work as a team with your architect or designer so that we can ensure your ideas are realistic with your budget, and plan the course of action for your remodel together. There is much less going back and forth, redoing design specifications, and, frankly, wasting of time and resources with this approach. We have a cadre of kitchen professionals that we have worked with for years, and have seen their abilities in action, that we can refer to you to complete your project. Of course, if you have already hired an architect or designer to come up with your new kitchen concept, that is fine too! We appreciate your consideration to help get you from design to DONE with your new kitchen!
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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.