Getting Your Home Renovation Done on Your Terms

Thinking about an upcoming home renovation?
Pop quiz. Which of these expectations would you want your contractor to meet?

  1. Your project finished with all the work you want done
  2. Your Quoted Price
  3. Your Schedule
  4. All of the above

If you are going to invest any amount of money in your home you are, of course, going to want results. Rightfully so, you should never settle for less than ”all of the above.” So the question is, ”how can you make sure you get your next project done while meeting your valid expectations?”

I am going to give you six ways that can help you protect your investment and more importantly, yourself. This way you can have a bit more control over the situation and lower the amount of emotional and financial stress you are up against. A recent survey found that over 48% of participants would not work with their last contractor again. This proves there is obviously a high probability that your service experience can go sour, so anyone in the market for a home renovation can use these tips.

How to Make Sure Everything You Want is Included

Of course, you want your project to turn out the way you envision and you need to make sure your contractor will do the work you want them to do. One way to get your home renovation off on the right foot is by creating a detailed to-do list.

To start your list, all who will play a part in any decision-making should sit down and think through the dream. List everything you want that seems feasible to include. Think about how you will use your space and try to picture what you want your space to look and feel like when it’s complete. This reminds me of habit two in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. If you start by thinking of your target, you will definitely be able to aim for it throughout your renovation.

Once your list is complete, it’s time to connect your ideas with photos examples. You can create an idea folder compiling ideas which connect to your style. By cutting pictures out from magazines, searching the internet, or taking some photographs of the type of space you are looking for, you can give your contractor a good concept of what you’d like to achieve. Houzz Idea Books provide a great way to do this on your computer. This is good because you can easily just add or delete items as you develop your list of inclusions.

When meeting with prospective contractors all the information you came up with needs to be shared with them and during your meeting you need to let them know that you’d like to be provided a detailed list of all the tasks associated with the work along with a list of specifications. This is the second way you can ensure your project is done on your terms. These lists can then be cross-checked against your original list to make sure everything discussed was included. The specifications (specs.) should list all your selections including product, material, fixtures, appliances, and other items that are to be installed. Each item on this list can include a manufactures name, model or item number, dimensions, and even color specified. As long as these two documents are incorporated by reference into your contract, this will make sure that you are going to get the work you want accomplished the way you envisioned.

Get Your Normal Life Back ASAP by Staying on Schedule

Is this going to take longer than promised? We live in a world of instant gratification, fast food, and the one-hour photo. Unfortunately, construction doesn’t work that way and it can take a toll on any homeowner if not done right. Our little tip for ensuring your project gets completed within your time frame is to hire a contractor who is willing to negotiate the contract. Since the schedule is, of course, going to be a topic of discussion when you are interviewing your contractors, we suggest you take it a step further and make sure the completion date is written in black and white. The language in your agreement under the scheduling clause needs to note your contractor’s deliverables on the subject which should include:

  1. Frequency of updates to the schedule
  2. Written or computer-generated master schedul
  3. Written weekly task lists being made available, and
  4. A commitment to holding project schedule update meetings.

These items can obligate your contractor to providing you what you already expect and you can request to set the parameters for your updates, so you can be informed as often as you would like and trust me, daily verbal progress updates are not an unreasonable request. These items may take some time on your contractor’s part, but they actually increase efficiency and assist in keeping them on schedule.

Don’t Get Burned, Control Your Budget

Earlier in this article you learned how to make sure your contractor will do the work you want them to do and get everything done. That is also the first step in staying on budget because you need all the details about the work and written project specifications to obtain a fixed proposal pricing. Estimates can provide a job cost range, but with a valid fixed price (lump-sum contract) you know exactly what you are paying for upfront.

Everyone looking for a home renovation will at some point wonder if final price is going to be higher than what was quoted. This legitimate concern is backed by a recent report published by a qualified independent research firm which noted 71% of construction projects experience cost overruns. However, with the specifications and detailed task list in hand, this does NOT have to be the case on your project.

Another easy trick is to pre-shop all your selections for finish products to ensure a minimal amount unknowns. If you know the products and materials you want installed, they can be priced. This eliminates the need for allowances in your proposal which are a typical culprit of cost overruns. A cash allowance in the quote sets aside funds to portions of the work. These usually end up including installation of finishes which were not sufficiently specified during the time the quotation was prepared. A little extra time spent pre-planning can go a long way.

We hope these tips help you get your next project done on your terms.