Setting Expectations for Your Remodeling Project

Posted by Courtney on Dec 17, 2014 10:12:16 PM
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When considering a remodeling or new construction project, many questions weigh heavily on homeowners’ minds. Below are some important answers that can help you understand what to expect before the project begins.

When is the best time of year to remodel?

In climates with four distinct seasons, spring, summer, and fall are obviously best for exterior projects. That’s not to say, however, that no exterior work can be done even during the coldest of winters. But, there are more uncontrollable factors to deal with that time of year, so it’s most ideal to be doing the bulk of it when it’s warmer and the weather is more predicable. For indoor projects, there really is no better or worse time of year.

What’s the general timeline for my custom project?

Below are timelines based on complete remodels where nearly everything is changing – flooring, tile, electrical, lighting, fixtures, wall placement, etc. Smaller projects such as replacing cabinets or changing out fixtures but leaving the layout the same can be completed in a shorter amount of time.

Whole Kitchen Remodel
Planning/design phase: 3-6 months
Construction phase: 8-12 weeks

Whole bathroom remodel
Planning/design phase: 3-6 months
Construction phase: 6-10 weeks

Outdoor space (deck/patio/porch)
Planning/design phase: 6-8 weeks
Construction phase: 3-16 weeks

Whole house/new house
Planning/design phase: 6-12 months
Construction phase: 24-32 weeks

What’s involved in the planning stage?

The planning/design stage includes space planning (what’s going to go where), as well as picking all your finishes and fixtures (in the case of a kitchen, for example – flooring, back splash, cabinets and cabinet hardware, countertops, lighting, etc.). When you’re working with a custom home designer, these options are practically limitless and are typically only constrained by budget. So, a lot of the time involved with this part of the process depends on if you already have a good idea of what you want before you start the project (and it fits within your budget) and how quickly you make decisions. If you are fairly decisive or know exactly what you want, the actual construction work on your kitchen or bath remodel could start in only a few weeks. If you are unsure of how you want your finished project to look, have a very tight budget, or just want to be very thorough in considering all your options, you may be looking at a 6-month planning phase. Because of the number of decisions that need to be made before work can start, a whole home remodel or new construction really needs at least 6 months of planning at a minimum.

Your builder/remodeler will lay out a schedule for when decisions should be made, but there’s always flexibility, as the most important part of this whole process is to make sure you love the finished product!

Is there a certain time of year to start planning for my project?

It really just depends on when you want the project completed. Once you determine that, work backward and be realistic about the time required for the planning and construction phases. Of course, timing also depends on your builder or remodelers’ availability to start the process.

A note about outdoor spaces: surprisingly, the ideal time to start planning for this type of project is actually in the summer so the work can be completed in the late fall and you can enjoy it as soon as the weather improves in the early spring.

How much of the design phase will include face-to-face meetings with my builder/remodeler?

This depends on the scope of the project. As an example, for a bathroom remodel, you should expect 8 to 12 hours of meetings with your remodeler to go over drawings and at least 16 hours of shopping with their designer to make product selections.

What can I expect during the construction phase?

The timeline for the construction phase is dependent not only on your remodeler or builder, but on the availability of subcontractors and materials. The process involves many moving parts and a lot of coordination. There should be progress made every hour of every day of the workweek, but that doesn’t mean someone from the construction company will actually be in your home working all of these days; much depends on the progress of subcontractors. A good contractor will not promise you they’ll be there every day. The project needs to be moving forward, but people should be productively working in your home; they shouldn’t be there just to be there.

On the remodeling TV shows I watch, projects always seem to go way over budget! Will this happen to me?

No. Once the budget is established for your project, a good contractor will do everything possible to stay within it. This is a key reason for not rushing the planning stage. The more front-end planning that takes place, the less likely issues affecting cost will be discovered once work begins. A good remodeler or builder does enough exploratory work on the property and is knowledgeable enough about products/finishes to give you a very accurate bid on total project cost. When costs change during the construction phase, it’s typically because the homeowner changes their mind about products and chooses more expensive ones.

That said, rarely, unforeseen circumstances arise that change the cost of the project after work has begun. These include things like mold, mice or other pests, water damage, or termites. However, these issues can be addressed in the planning stage and included in the bid if the homeowner is very upfront about the history of the property and any problems they’ve had in the past. Otherwise, the builder/remodeler can really only go off what they see, normal building practices, and what the homeowner says.

Can I live in my house during a remodel?

Almost always – yes, if that’s what you prefer to do. Obviously, this presents more of a challenge in a whole home remodel, but is very manageable when it’s only one room or part of the house. A good contractor will accommodate almost every scenario, but keep in mind that it may affect the cost. For example, if you want to live in your home during a whole house remodel in the winter, there will likely be cost involved for your remodeler to keep the house insulated from cold. Similarly, you may need to have a temporary kitchen set up during your kitchen remodel. This is quite doable, but may come at an additional cost. It’s up to you to determine what’s most cost-effective and convenient for you. This is another example of why it’s important to plan wisely for when work will take place. In the example of a kitchen remodel, summer is a great time because you can grill and eat outdoors much of the time.

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