Renovating a property is exciting, but most clients underestimate how much organization and planning are required before the action begins.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure -- here are some tips to make sure your renovation goes smoothly from start to finish.
1) Do your homework.
Before hiring a contractor, make sure the one you work with is legitimate and dependable. How? For starters, make sure you visit the contractor’s office in person (no emails or phone calls); know for sure that they actually have an office (and a staff), and insist on a face-to-face initial meeting in the office. Sit down with the contractor and review the estimate in detail; ask a lot of questions. Don’t opt for a proposal via email, as easy and as convenient as that sounds.
2) Use a design service. Unlike most contractors, DBe offers a design service for each renovation project. This service determines schematic design layouts and finishes/fixture research and pricing; it also selects the architects and engineers who are right for your particular project, if needed; it allows for a comprehensive understanding of a job from start to finish. A design service uncovers many unknown and unresolved issues before the renovation begins.
3) Expect (and budget for) the unexpected: hidden conditions. When it comes to certain projects, we won’t know what trouble may be hidden behind walls and beneath floors until the demolition stage of the renovation. Plumbing, electricity, and structural work usually contain concealed issues that are unknown until they are exposed. When you uncover a hidden issue, you have to figure out how to solve it (and figure out the cost to solve it).
As an example, when renovating a bathroom or kitchen, we may find that branch lines to sinks, tubs, and toilets may have deteriorated and need to be replaced. The result of this hidden condition is replacement costs that were not originally considered. Rotting plywood under the floor is another possible hidden condition. A common unpleasant surprise: finding brick rather than gypsum block behind a brownstone facade. Brick bulges and shifts over time; solid blocks are more stable and stay in place better. Having to remove and replace the brick can be expensive; it won’t become a possible part of the job until the facade comes down.
4) Plan your living arrangements. Make a plan for how you and your family will adjust and cope during the work process. If the kitchen and bathroom are being renovated, where will you bathe and eat? If the electricity and plumbing are turned off, how would you cope? Cohabitating is always a challenge, but especially so during times like these.
The takeaway for dealing with renovation challenges: Have an in-person meeting with your contractor at his or her office, plan for how you are going to live during the renovation, expect (and budget for) unexpected hidden conditions, and take advantage of a design service like the one offered by DBe to avoid unresolved issues that may spring up during the work period.
These four basic rules of thumb will help your renovation project stay on track and offer solutions that could save you time and money.
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