I have seen it play out time and again: Home owners who move ahead with renovation projects before the planning and preparation are complete. Often, the mentality is that any problems or roadblocks that pop up can be dealt with as it happens. This can be a big mistake. The more planning and preparation that goes into your project, the more control you will have over the outcome.
It is not unreasonable for the planning and preparation to take more time than the actual renovation. Here are some tips to consider when preparing for your renovation:
- If you are working with a designer or architect, bring your contractor in during the design phase. An experienced general contractor will recognize and point out items not in your budget before you pay for finished drawings. It is very easy for an architect to add customized details on paper that may take days of costly labour to execute.
- Do not change your mind on the big stuff (i.e. pretty much anything beyond paint colours) after work has started. Be 100% ready to commit.
- Always communicate directly with your general contractor and not with the specialty trades. There are a myriad of problems that can arise from trying to deal with the subcontractors on your job.
- Review the contracts – carefully! I have seen all too often a homeowner gloss over items like materials and fixture choices, and then complain when the work is done that they are not happy with their choices. It takes mere moments to check the details, far less time and expense than it would take to replace installed items or to repaint walls.
- Get everything in writing. From changes in work orders to changes in the original contract, it is critical to record everything and sign off on it. That way, you can be sure there will be no dispute when parties try to remember who said this, or who promised that. It is so easy to head off this pitfall and take the time to agree before the work continues. In addition to this step, we use an online project management system to help us communicate – and keep a mutually accessible record of communications – with our clients so we always know where things stand.
I can’t stress enough that proper planning, clarity, and commitment are crucial to deliver the product you have been dreaming about and are about to invest a large sum of money to realize – on your terms!