So you want to IMPROVE!
A large renovation or remodel is not for the faint of heart.
Make the process easier for yourself with lots of careful planning.
TIPS FOR A SMOOTH PROCESS
TIP #1: TALK TO THE EXPERTS
Discuss your goals with the professionals and let them help you!
Contractors, Architects, Structural Engineers, and Designers will:
Help you with your plans.
Establish your budget
Make sure your ideas are safe.
Manage the construction process.
Do the work!
A real estate agent will:
Confirm the estimated future market value of your house.
Help you determine what the best improvements are for your neighborhood.
A lender will review your finances to:
Get you pre-approved for whichever financing process you choose.
Identify the best type of loan for your circumstances.
Estimate your interest rate, target construction budget, and monthly payments.
TIP #2: DON'T GO UNDERWATER
Very few home improvement projects have a 100% or greater return on investment. Do not expect that your home value will magically increase by the same amount as your improvement expenses. I'm sure your plan isn’t to move immediately after your remodel, but what if you have no choice? What if something completely unanticipated happens and you find out you need to move after all? Don’t put yourself in a position where you owe more money on the house than it's worth.
TIP #3: DON'T OVER-IMPROVE FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Don't aspire to have the biggest and nicest house on the block. Make sure your renovations are consistent with the style and size of your neighborhood. If your entire neighborhood is full of 1,500 square foot ranch houses, don’t turn yours into a 5,000 square foot colonial. It won’t end well.
TIP #4: BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
Hire professionals and plan what you really want and need out of your home. Square footage isn’t everything when it comes to a spacious and functional home. A smaller, more efficient space beats oversized wasted space any day of the week. So get creative about how you use your space. Listen to experienced designers and builders - they’ve seen way more houses than you have. Browse the photos of real estate listings for ideas on optimizing your space. If you are building an addition, make sure it does everything it need to, but understand that the impact of that addition will depend on how you use the space.
TIP #5: PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!
The more planning you do upfront the fewer surprises you’ll have on the back end. Get as many questions answered as you can BEFORE you start construction. The last thing you want to do is change your plans midway through the process. That can be extremely costly
TIP #6: CREATE A BUDGET & STICK TO IT!
This is a hard one! We’ve all heard stories of home improvement budgets spiraling out of control, but they don’t have to.
Use a reputable contractor who knows how to estimate costs.
Add a buffer to your budget to allow for hidden expenses that pop up if you accidentally open a can of worms during construction.
DON’T use any of that buffer budget to splurge on something during the process. Once you splurge on one thing and bust your budget, it’s really easy to keep doing so.
If you do decide to splurge on something, then have the discipline to compromise on something else. That will make it much easier to prioritize your true needs and will keep things in line for the entire project.
TIP #7: PAY ATTENTION TO THE CALENDAR
Be sure that the construction doesn’t overlap with any major family events or important holidays. Understand how long the process will take and try to plan it for the least stressful time of year possible. Don’t cut your schedule too close either. If it’s important to you that the project is complete by Thanksgiving, target completing it by September. Even if you do manage to finish your project on schedule, you’ll appreciate the extra time to settle into your new space.
TIP #8: PULL PERMITS
Seriously. This is not a place to skimp. If a project requires a permit with your town, then open the permit. Then make sure your contractor schedules the final inspection to get the permit closed.
Open permits, or work done without a permit will almost always be discovered when you go to sell your house. And the trick about permits is that they can’t be closed if they don’t meet the current building code, regardless of when the work was completed. So, if the building code changes before you are able to get a permit closed, then you may have to redo some of the work to successfully close the permit. This can be expensive and aggravating! Instead, just be sure your contractors are applying for any permits necessary, and don’t consider the job complete until the inspector has come and the permit is successfully closed.