You’ve spent the past year or two dreaming about the perfect kitchen — or bathroom or addition — for your home and family, and you’re finally ready to get started.
Not so fast.
The planning process for your big project began the minute you started thinking about how you could enlarge your kitchen, add more storage space or upgrade to granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.
It also doesn’t end the day you decide to take the plunge.
In fact, your vision is just the beginning of the planning process. For a remodeling project to go smoothly, you should allocate a substantial amount of time before construction begins to insure you’re working with the right contractor.
All too often, homeowners come to me after they have already worked with someone who started the project before creating a solid plan. A plan which includes the cost, how long it would take and which products are in budget. Those homeowners were understandably eager to get started and finished, especially after all the years of dreaming about the new space.
But, 100 percent of the time, they were disappointed and their contractor rushed to begin the work before truly planning for every detail of the project.
That’s not to say you should embrace a contractor who drags his feet and puts the job off indefinitely. Instead, look for someone who knows that the most efficient way to remodel a room or a home is to understand exactly what you want before tearing anything out or building anything new.
Consider how much time and money you could save if you see 3-D drawings of how the room will look once it is finished, or if your contractor figures out ahead of time whether the wall you want to tear down is the one holding the ceiling up.
The more your contractor knows about your dream and your space, the more accurately he can avoid surprises, determine the cost of the job and figure out how long it will take to complete.
When all is done, both you and your contractor will be proud of a result that begins with a solid plan.
When you’re ready to hire a contractor, look for one who places as much of an emphasis on planning as on construction.
Here’s what to insist on:
Talk to someone who will really listen to you. It’s important that they understand your vision and plans.
Toss some ideas around with a professional designer. Choosing finishes for backsplashes and countertops can be overwhelming. Talking with a designer will alleviate any stress or headaches that come with deciding what goes with what and where to find it.
Ask for a physical plan that shows where every wall, cabinet and tile will be located.The best way to judge if it’s what you want is to view it in a 3-D rendering.
Get a final price before the project begins. An estimate is just a guess. Guessing usually equals dollar signs.
You may pay a deposit before construction begins, but you should not pay the whole fee up front. Additionally, ask to see the payment schedule. You should only pay for work that has been completed.
Leave the legwork to the contractor. Good general contractors have relationships with good subcontractors such as painters, plumbers, carpenters and electricians. The contractor should find, hire, supervise, pay and stand behind the work of those subs.
Communicate with a single person once construction begins, and get regular updates.
Walk through the finished room with a member of the project crew once it’s finished so you can tell the contractor if anything isn’t right.
Get a warranty on the work, and you’ll get prompt service if anything should go wrong during that warranty period.
This is a process, not a rush job. This is how to make your remodeling dreams come true.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.Jeb.net.