by Terry Cooch of TLC Home, LLC
Is your home bursting at the seams? Are you dreaming about your dream kitchen? Do you wish your house had a master suite? Renovating your home can be a satisfying way to improve your quality of life. As your renovation’s project manager, the key to success is good planning. Here’s how to make sure you’re up to the challenge.
Know What You Want. Create a wish list. Begin by writing down everything you want to achieve with your new space.
- Make note of your physical wants: “I want more closet space” “I want more Natural light.” “I want a reading nook.” Add to this list as ideas develop.
- List your emotional wants: “I want the space to feel cheerful.” “I want to inspire creativity.” “I want to encourage togetherness.” “I want a calming place.”
- Collect ideas: Start a folder of magazine pictures, sketches, samples and brochures. Keep designs that you love or would like to copy. Keep a camera and tape measure with you at all times. Walk through show rooms and model homes and takes lots of pictures. Record anything that will help you communicate your ideas to a designer or contractor.
Determine A Realistic Budget. (aka: the Las Vegas Scenario)
Pretend you’re going to Las Vegas. You have a dollar amount you’re planning on spending, but then there’s the “I-can’t-bear-the-temptation” amount. There’s also the OMG (“Oh my God! What have I done!?”) amount.
Examine this scenario when planning your budget. The temptation to do more that you planned is immense. There are some beautiful and expensive things out there. Know yourself and what you can afford, and plan accordingly.
If your wants exceed your budget, talk to your contractor about other ways to reduce costs. You may be willing to give up recessed lighting in order to have hardwood floors, or there might be a great look-a-like that satisfies. Consider Do-It-Yourself options when planning both budget and contracting.
If You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys. Shop diligently for contractors or designers. The cheapest price is tempting, but it’s not worth the savings if the project is done poorly or left unfinished.
Do your homework. Ask friends and family for referrals and be certain they were happy with their results. Internet searches can provide plenty of business names, if necessary, but be sure to interviews potential contractors and request a list of past customers.
Call those people and verify their satisfactions. And make sure that whatever company you hire is insured and properly licensed by the state of Maryland. To check on a contractor’s license, visit the website of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at dllr.state.md.us and go to the “License Search” page.
Understand The Process. Know what to expect before construction begins. Ask your contractor for a complete explanation of starting time, daily and weekly goals, and how set backs are handled.
Reduce surprises and disappointments by requesting a thorough timetable that includes subcontractor information. For instance, first to arrive is the tear out guy, then the framer, the electrician, then the plumber, etc.
Also, learn the best way to communicate with your contractor. Is he quick to answer calls or texts, or does he prefer email at the end of the day? Avoid frustration by knowing his typical time frame for replies.
Schedule The Project Accordingly. Once you have an understanding of what to expect, it’s important to plan the construction work around your family’s calendar and life. When possible, select a time that will keep stress to a minimum.
- Will it be easier to renovate during the school year or will the disruption affect the kid’s success in school and other activities?
- Will the change in routine interfere with your ability to get your children where they need to be?
- The less demanding months of summer could be a good time for construction if your kids have a pool, camp or friends’ houses to go to. Or will the added noise be too much for everyone?
- Do you want to avoid having the work coincide with holidays and vacations? Consider your own work and volunteer schedule.
- What time of the year can you most easily handle interruptions and added responsibilities?
Get Ready, Get Set… Get Organized Before You Hit Go. Prepare your home for the disruptions. Your household can still run smoothly, if you make it a priority.
- Set up staging areas where needed. If the enter/exit zone of your home will be inaccessible, create a new one. Relocate needed backpacks, coats and shoes. Keep your purse and other necessities in this new launching area.
- If your kitchen will be unusable, salvage what you can of the old one and create a small work station in the family room.
- If leisure or work areas will be disturbed, create a portable station that can be set up on the kitchen table and then quickly removed when it’s time to dine.
Prepare Yourself. Acknowledge that, despite your great planning and hiring of the perfect contractor, the construction will be challenging.
- Allow more time to do daily tasks and to get out the door in the morning.
- Schedule a daily recovery time at the end of the day, making sure all temporary systems are in place for the next day.
- Reduce your commitments, if possible, and eliminate all unnecessary appointments
- Simplify meals and rely on carry-out a little more than usual.
- Be ready for the phone to ring more and the unexpected to happen.
- If possible, double your patience level with your spouse and children; remember that everything is harder for them too.
- Here’s a tip: Reduce some stress by including in your budget the cost of extra meals out and a little pampering. You’ll deserve both.
© 2013 Terry Cooch, TLC HOME LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Terry L. Cooch is a professional organizer, home stager, and owner of TLC Home LLC Professional Organizing Services.