Plan Ahead for Home Remodels

by Jon Nunan

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Negotiating the planning/permitting process and actually starting construction comfortably within the same building season is tough to pull off. Home remodels are big jobs, and many homeowners are simply ill-prepared when they go into a project. This often leads to high job costs or even low-quality work. To protect your investment (and possibly your mental health, too) getting a head start on your home remodeling plans is the answer.

Home Remodeling Plans
The bottom line is easy: Avoid the rush when you can. January is the most popular time of the year for home remodels, so everyone's time is at a premium. What many consumers don't understand is the sheer multitude of decisions required for just getting a project "permit-ready," much less the time it takes for getting construction underway.

Developing a custom floor plan is just the start. Working with a professional designer is usually a real eye-opener for most homeowners, once the full variety of decisions to make and all the options available become apparent. Choosing architectural materials, specific appliances, electrical and plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, fireplaces, windows and skylights, etc. is a time-consuming process. Having an experienced, professional designer to advise you and help you make the best home remodeling plans possible can truly be a life saver!

Home Remodels That Work
A huge advantage to planning ahead is that your research can easily become part of your regular (or holiday) shopping routine, making dual use of your time. You'll have time to weigh your choices, find great sales, discuss your project with friends and relatives, call or actually visit the names on that reference list furnished by your designer or contractor you're considering using— all without the time push. You may as well enjoy the process, and remember that you'll be living with the results of your choices for many years.

The First Steps in Home Remodels
If the project bids have come in over your projected budget, a whole new series of decisions begins. Do you cut back on the project, requiring new or re-drawn plans? Can you bring the project into line with material changes? Can the project be done in phases? Which contractor do you hire? Have you looked at his work? Is he still using the same sub contractors? If not, is the quality of his or her current subs satisfactory?

Even anticipating the normal three-to-six months (or more) of your home remodel is sometimes not enough to allow for the unexpected. An accident or illness to any of the involved parties can slow or stop the process temporarily. Allowing plenty of time for planning and permitting can make the difference between a fun enjoyable project and a massive headache.

Early planning allows for finding sales and bargains. By being ready at the beginning of the building season, you can take best advantage of supply and demand when it comes to contractor selection and selective bidding.

After You Have Permits and Bids
So how are you paying for this? A loan? How long will the lender take to review the plan and make a decision? Did you plan for the loan officer's two-week vacation? Remember Murphy's Law! Oh, by the way, the contractor you really wanted has accepted another job and cannot get to you for two months. Do you have time to wait?

These questions and many others can arise before and during the remodeling process. Do your best to stay ahead of all things that surround a project before it ever begins, and your home remodel is going to be something you can truly enjoy, rather than something you have to push through.

Basement Remodeling Project Guide
If you enjoyed this article, check out our free Basement Remodeling Guide, which features expert advice, design & material comparisons, and custom price estimates for your remodeling project.
Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.