Daddona Construction

10 Tips for Remodeling

1. Do The Right Project
Remodeling is a major investment. Whether or not to do a project, and which one to do is a big decision. In deciding which project to do, weigh your wants. Make a list of Must Dos vs. Want to Dos. Do some research on line, and in remodeling magazines. Check to see what type of remodeling projects other people in your neighborhood and town have chosen to do. Then start prioritizing.

2. Have a Master Plan for Your Home Improvement Projects
By having a master plan there will be less of the "one step forward, two steps back" activity. Look at the big picture. Make sure that you consider the total scenario ... not only for now, but for the future ... include broader or unexpected needs that may not be obvious to you on first glance. Do you really need a screened porch, or do you need a guest bedroom and some interior rearrangement? Are you having more children? How will your housing need change as your children grow, or later as the nest is emptied? Will you need a space for a nanny? A home office? Will you want to later expand your kitchen into that space that you are now considering for a sunroom? If you want to redo your kitchen in three years, is it worth replacing the counters now? Often a phased plan is appropriate, in which you plan to implement projects over several years. Rather than doing a whole house remodel now, portions of the total project can be spaced out over time (for example, this year do the bath, then when the children grow, add a playroom, then a couple years later, add on a breakfast room and redo the kitchen). Thinking ahead like this minimizes the chance that projects that you do now will need to be later undone.

3. Keep the Remodeling Investment Appropriate for Your Neighborhood

How should you decide what makes sense in terms of an investment? It's important to be aware of the financial implications of your remodeling choices. Check Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report to see what the estimated rate of return is for the type of project that you are thinking of doing. Have your home appraised in relation to other ones in your neighborhood to determine what makes sense in terms of an investment for improvements. Talk to your local realtor. Resale should always be a consideration. Therefore, even if you plan to stay for a long time, to add something special - a hook for potential home buyers ... this may be a greenhouse window, or a center island in the kitchen .... something that someone looking to purchase your house can't live without, once they see it. Take care not to do something that negatively impacts the market value of your home. Decreasing the number of bedrooms, for example, should not be done without serious thought, as it may seriously affect the value of your home. It is often possible, with good forethought, to recover the full value or even more than what you put into a remodeling project. Obviously, your decision to remodel may not be a purely "numbers " analysis. Many projects are self-indulgent. It is a personal decision as to what price tag is appropriate for enjoyment and self-indulgence. Swimming pools are said to be a poor investment in terms of payback, but if it gives your family years of pleasure, it's worth it.

4. Keep Project Within Budget

Whether your budget is large or small, figure out what it is. Have an understanding also for your budget's flexibility (or lack thereof!). Having a budget can be a benefit as well as a limitation because it forces each decision to be considered with an eye to its effect on the overall job. There are gross measures, such as cost per sq. ft., that you can use to determine whether your expectations are in the ballpark or not. Depending on the type of project you are doing this figure can range between $100 - $300 per sq. ft. Often people spend the same amount on remodeling a bathroom as they spent on their last car. Kitchens tend to be anywhere up to 10% of the value of the house. Many people have reported that projects cost one and a half to two times what they expected before starting into the process. Doing this upfront investigative work helps to reduce the chance for sticker shock when you get back estimates from your contractor. Prospective contractors can give you ball park information to help you pre-qualify your project. Even if the initial figures seem high, don't be discouraged - it's often possible to work with your contractor to make value based decisions that will bring your budget and your dreams closer into line with each other. Once you arrive at a mutually agreeable budget, it is possible to keep your design within that range. When figuring your budget, you should plan to set aside 10 -15% for extra unplanned costs, such as those due to termite damage, foundation settling, concealed obstacles and/or substandard existing construction which are not identified until after construction starts. Expect some "while you're at it" costs. Your enthusiasm can cause you to expand the scope of a project on which you're involved, or to want to change the room adjacent to the one you're working on. "While you're at it" costs can add twenty percent or more to a project

5. Choose a Reputable Contractor

The contractor is the person to whom you will delegate the responsibility of ensuring that the on-going job matches your expectations. You need a good manager. There is no business where teamwork is more important. It's important that they can pull together the people and resources to get this work done for you in a timely fashion. Seek out a contractor who cares about you and your home, one who is excited to be in the business, who is courteous, who attempts to provide the least disruption in your life. Each day of a remodeling project should not be a challenging test of your adaptability and tolerance. Be wary of the ones who say they are perfect. On remodeling projects, things often go wrong, problems come up. One of the differences between contractors is how they address the problems as they arise. Look for a contractor with traditional skills of empathy and careful listening, one who will keep you informed - a good communicator. Choose someone who is steady and even-tempered

6. Design Well
Look for a company that has design talent as well as understanding of project costs and technical expertise to excel at the type of project you are considering doing. Find one that is design-oriented but budget-driven. The focus of that type of company allows them to design your project for a mutually agreeable budget. This ensures that the design does not run away from the budget. Spend enough time up front, with your designer working through conceptual plans. Explore several alternative designs before settling on one. The designer should lead you through the process of considering and evaluating project options carefully. You should weigh the options presented to you until a satisfactory blend of cost and value is reached. Think about how you will use the space, to make sure that the flow works sensibly for you. This time, wisely spent, more than pays for itself in the finished product. Work through as many of the problems as possible at this stage. For example if you are redoing a kitchen, think about where you will store food, dishes, pots and pans, etc. Your designer's knowledge should allow him/her to be a good source for recommendations.

7. Plan Your Project Thoroughly: Get Detailed Specs

In order to establish clear expectations all construction details need to be thought out and specified. These can either be indicated on the working drawings, on the contract, or a combination of the two. EVERYTHING should be specified, so that there are no surprises once construction gets underway. Make sure that you understand all of the drawings and contract specifications.

 8. Make Changes Before Construction Begins

It can be very costly, both in dollars and in terms of the project's duration, to make changes after construction starts. Try to make all changes up front! Design on the fly has a ripple effect on costs, regardless of whether you add or delete something. It is time consuming for the contractor to change materials, specs and worker schedules while work is underway, in addition to the down time that results while everyone stands around waiting for late decisions and changes from the customer. Your job can be brought to a complete standstill by changes made during production. The contractor schedules workers well in advance and may not be able to instantly reshuffle the worker's schedules.

9. Whether or Not To Do It Yourself
Often potential clients proclaim that they are considering being their own general contractor. This is usually followed by an assertion that they feel that they can save a percentage of the construction costs and thus build the project for less. This may be a short-sighted misconception that can be a recipe for disaster: a case of penny-wise and pound-foolish. Many problems are not easily correctable after the fact, and are avoidable if someone who knows what they are doing manages the project. Qualified contractors bring expertise to a project in four different areas: technical expertise, control over subcontractors, scheduling of tasks, and dealing effectively with public authorities.

(1) Their technical expertise involves more than just knowing how to read plans and specifications. They have extensive knowledge of different material and methods such as masonry, carpentry, cabinet making, roofing, electrical and plumbing work. The contractor will make sure that the footings are placed correctly, the foundation walls are sound, with appropriate footing drains, properly waterproofed and so on. A homeowner cannot be expected to know all of this if their expertise is in some other field.

(2) Secondly, since the contractor regularly and repeatedly uses the services of his subcontractors, he will be able to exercise control over them. The average homeowner will only add to a house once or twice in a lifetime, whereas the contractor may be overseeing five different projects at once. It is obvious why a plumber will respond sooner to a call from the contractor, a repeat client, than to a homeowner that he may never see again, who does not understand what he does, and who might not appreciate the quality of his work, and who may not pay him easily or quickly. These facts give the contractor leverage over the subs that a homeowner cannot possibly have.

(3) Thirdly, the sequencing of tasks is of the utmost importance to having a job completed successfully in a timely manner. Knowing the right time to get your subcontractors in, when to order the windows and doors and even the right time to call the designer for a clarification or critical inspection takes skill and expertise. There are few fields where scheduling is more critical than in construction. Everything needs to happen with forethought, often with multiple trades working simultaneously, or the project may take twice as long as it should. If the carpenter does not stay ahead of the plumber and the electrician then the electrician may walk off the job. This causes the job to come to a screeching halt. Tensions rise on the job when the subs lose money due to excess idle time. Juggling between subs stepping on each other, idle time and project duration is something that the contractor controls and manages.

(4) Fourth, the contractor can effectively deal with public authorities such as the building inspector. Since they work with them on a regular basis, the contactor's staff is able to develop a professional relationship with the various building officials. These relationships translate into a job being completed faster and better. Knowing when to request input from the authorities is a critical component of scheduling. As a do-it-yourself homeowner, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to remove all the sheetrock you just installed because you neglected to request the building inspector for an inspection. As a do-it-yourself contractor you may be risking large amounts of money by assuming responsibility for something that you cannot possibly understand in all of its complexity. It is easy to conclude that because we have lived in houses and seen construction sites we can easily be contractors. This conclusion may lull you into a false sense of security. In the long run you may be best off relying on the expertise of a professional contractor.

10. Enjoy It!
Remodeling can be costly and stressful, but it can also be an enjoyable adventure. It’s typically less costly and stressful than permanently moving, and it can always be looked at as an opportunity for character development. It's a chance to “rough it” a little, while you have someone custom build your home improvement dreams. Whether it’s a remodeling project or new construction from scratch, the project is ultimately for you. Relish in the self-indulgence. Keep your sense of humor! When the going gets tough, keep in mind the beautiful finished product at the journey's end.