Remodeling a House, Where Do I Start?

Where to Start on a Home Remodeling Project

Remodeling a home is no easy feat, even if you have experience in designing and building. Taking on an entire home renovation project is intimidating, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Not only do you want to live in a home you love, but you also want to ensure you are getting the best return on your investment.

Not sure where to begin? You aren’t alone in your endeavor. Understanding the first steps toward your remodel project is crucial and may steer you in the right direction.

Is a Remodel Necessary?

First, homeowners should make a list of improvements they would enjoy in their home. Do you need a new kitchen or bath? Is your living too small and you need an addition for extra space? Do you need additional bedrooms? Do you want to finish your basement? Are you considering a pop-top addition? Write down the major changes you’d like to see.

Your next step is to prioritize the list. Each item on the list of improvements should have an assigned ranking from one (not necessary) to ten (absolutely necessary). When you understand your priorities, the next step is to get ballpark estimates.

How Much Does a Remodel Cost?

You might next be wondering how much you are going to pay for your home remodel. The steps here are actually straightforward.

You’ll likely have a hard time finding ballpark costs online because all projects are so different. Some remodeling contractors (i.e. general contractors or GC) will give ballpark estimates before plans are drawn. Call around to ask several different contractors whether this is a service they offer. Professionals provide ballparks costs for your remodel based on similar work they’ve completed. Ideally you’d like to hear costs from a few different sources before you commit to anyone to do the work. One good source for ballpark estimates that many homeowners are not aware of is a project planner. Most project planners work for remodeling contractors, but consulting with a project planner and construction manager such as the experts at Owner Assist Remodeling will help you decide how to proceed

Collect several bids based on specific description of the project to avoid a situation in which you are trying to compare apples to oranges, unable to compare estimates to each other because they include different scopes based on bids you receive.

Once you have a ballpark idea of the costs you can expect for your project, you need to know if the project is worth the money. The thought might cross your mind that you should sell your home and simply buy a new one already equipped with the features you want. While selling your home may be a viable option for some homeowners, you might be sold on staying in your home thanks to the location or the home’s current value.

By using a Cost vs. Value report, you can determine if it is worth the financial cost to remodel your home based on the post-remodel value and potential appreciation of its value.

The return on investment (ROI) is an important consideration. You’ll almost never recoup the entire cost of a remodel if you sell your home right away, but if you’re going to live in this home for a while, you’ll have the enjoyment of the use of the new spaces, and the value of your home will rise enough so that you’ll recoup even more than what the project cost.

What Is Your Budget?

Based on your financial plans for the remodel, your budget may fit into the low, middle, or high segment of the spectrum. Your next steps depend on where your budget falls.

Low Budget – You can still remodel your home on a low budget, but you may focus on the projects that offer the best ROI and work that you can do yourself. You can also hire a local remodeling carpenter or handyman to complete these projects using materials and finishes you purchased locally.

Middle Budget – If your budget falls in the middle of the spectrum, you can swing hiring a remodeling company or a construction manager to oversee the project. You can afford mid-range fixtures and finishes to complete the project.

High Budget – With a higher budget, you can hire a professional designer and work with high-end fixtures and finishes. Design build remodeling firms fit into this category, or you can GC the work yourself as an “Owner Builder” with the help of a construction manager.

Now that you know who to reach out to based on your budget, talk to both remodeling companies and an independent construction manage such as the experts at Owner Assist Remodeling to find the best fit for you based on your needs and your budget. Don’t forget to account for work that runs over your budget. You need a plan for covering any additional costs.

Who Will You Hire?

With a better understanding of your budget and expectations, you need to understand the roles of different workers you may hire to complete your remodel. Each type of worker offers advantages and disadvantages.

Remodeling Contractor (GC) – Most remodeling companies are general contractors, and in that role are responsible for the entire project. When you hire a general contractor, or GC, you foot the bill for materials, labor, supervision, and construction management, in addition to the GC’s overhead and profit markup. As a result, the costs associated with hiring a GC varies wildly. Plus, some GC’s only work on the build. You may need an additional bid for the project design. Many homeowners are unaware that they don’t necessarily need to hire a general contractor, see below.

Architect – Depending on the scale of your project, you may want to hire an architect. Hiring an architect is a good choice if you want to build a new home, want to add a new room, or are thinking about a pop top addition. Be aware that most architect bids don’t give you construction costs. You’ll need to reach out to a remodeling company (GC) or Project Planner and Construction Manager for costs.

Designers – A designer who specializes in the specific remodel you want is another good option. Some designers specialize in kitchen and bath projects, while others specialize in basement finishing. If you are thinking about your ROI, considering a designer who specializes in exactly what you want done and with the experience to transform the space ill give you the best results.

Handyman – Can you reduce your remodel costs by hiring just a handyman? Yes, but the skill levels of these workers vary greatly and many lack the proper insurance to protect you during remodel projects. If you hire someone without both contractor liability and workmans comp insurances, you as the homeowner will be responsible for any injury or damage to your home during construction. Not a big deal if someone cuts a finger or scratches a table, but if a faulty extension cord starts a house fire or if carelessness floods your home, you’ll be on the hook for any and all medical or home repair costs. Hiring a properly insured worker protects you from these costs.

DIY – Can mean two different things. One way would be that you do all the work yourself. Another way to DIY is to be your own GC (known as being an “owner builder”) and plan and manage the work yourself. You’ll either need to have industry knowledge and ample time to dedicate to the project, or you could hire a project planner and construction manager to assist you. These experts are a perfect fit when homeowners are not sure how to pull together a large remodeling project.

Project Planner & Construction Manager – For many homeowners, a great choice is to hire a professional who works directly for you on an hourly basis, consulting with you and providing project management throughout the remodel. Project planners and construction managers provide excellent help throughout the design process and estimate costs before the plans are even made. These experts can help you achieve the highest quality work.

Considering the variety of options, it is often reasonable to opt for a project planner and construction manager for your remodeling project rather than hiring a remodeling contractor or GC.

Are You Paying a Fair Price?

How can you be sure you are not paying too much for your project?

  • Receive multiple bids from different contractors so you can develop a clear picture.
  • Don’t compare apples to oranges. Ensure each bid is for the same project scope.
  • Act as your own general contractor while working with a project planner and construction manager to save money without sacrificing quality.

Even if you have remodeled a home before, every experience poses different challenges. If you still have questions about your upcoming home remodel project, contact Owner Assist Remodeling now to learn more.