If you are an average person thinking about beginning a remodeling project in your home you might tune into one of those home remodeling shows that are available, many of which are on Saturday mornings. There you would see an entire kitchen or bath totally gutted and remodeled within the hour. After watching it you might think; This is a snap, it's easy, I can do this next weekend! These "weekend projects" involve a lot more than 2 days and a trip to the local home improvement store. In this article I will outline the real steps necessary to complete your project.
The first step is you will have to identify the scope of the project. Once that has been accomplished you need see what a project similar to yours would cost so you will know if your project will fit within your budget and/or if you are overbuilding for your area. To accomplish this you should visit Remodeling magazines web site and go to the section that has the "cost vs. value report". This annual report will give you a very good idea as to the scope and cost of your project with region specific information. The next step is to complete a needs and use assessment. This assessment will help define the parameters of the project. What do you need (different from what you want or wish it to have) from the finished project and does your plan address all those needs and how you will use the newly remodeled space.
Next you will need to create drawings of the project. Even if you are not artistic you need to complete this step as it will force you to think about areas of the project that you may have overlooked. Your next step is to make your product selections, and make sure they fit into the budget. When making product selections be cautious of the finishes of various components, such as the shower door, vanity faucet, toilet trim and door handles, making sure they are the same. The same finish can have different names depending on the manufacturer. If you are putting the project out to bid remember to write construction specifications defining things like wall insulation, flooring, adhesives, type of paint, style and color of electrical devices, etc.
Once you have all this information you are ready to have the project bid. My advice for you is a little different then some others. I suggest you interview 2 or 3 contractors, and talk to their references. When you find the contractor that you are comfortable with, ask him to bid the project, according to your specifications. You already know what the project should cost because you reviewed the "cost vs. value report", so you are protected from that standpoint. Don't make the mistake of squeezing every last dollar out of your contractor. Your contractor has to make a profit to stay in business. One of the results of squeezing your contractor too much is he will have to cut corners, which is something you don't want to happen.
If on the other hand you are doing the project yourself, select a starting date when you can dedicate sufficient time to complete the project. Trust me, things always take longer than you think. I remember when I was first starting out in the business; I would bid the job and always be over on actual time. This happened time and time again. I asked a friend of mine who had been in business for a while to have a look at my estimating technique. He spotted the problem right away. You didn't include any time for setup, breakdown, job-site cleanup, trips to buy material and stocking the job with material. All these things take time to do and they are part of the job. The lesson here is to add time into your schedule for these things.
If after reading this article you feel overwhelmed and you feel like you need help in this process, I suggest you hire a contractor to consult with you about your project. He can complete the drawings and specifications for you and/or be available to visit your project and walk through it with you, answering your questions. As the project proceeds, the contractor should be available by phone to answer questions as they come up, or possibly even job site visits.
I hope after reading this you understand, that it is not as easy as it appears on TV, and it takes a lot of planning and follow through. In most cases the planning takes as much time as the actual project will. Following the above steps will ease the stress level that is associated with home remodeling projects, and make your life a little more comfortable.