We think one of the most fun parts of a remodel project is the “dreaming” stage: sharing with your Designer all the things you’d like to change, the details you’d like to implement, the Pinterest ideas you’ve saved (just to name a few!). And while it is very easy to dream big, it might be a bit harder to make the most of your investment into your home. Here are a few tips on how to make your dreams reality and maximize the investment you are putting into your project.
1. Prioritize Your Non-Negotiables
The Top 3 Big Ticket Items are electrical, plumbing, and masonry (brick work, cement pouring, etc.). Is knocking that wall out between your kitchen and dining room a top priority? Is adding extra lighting into your bathroom ceiling a “must”? Knowing your non-negotiables is the first step to setting you up for success in your remodel.
Once you know what your “must-haves” are, you can rely on the expertise of your contractor to start formulating the overall investment projection. They will help you understand what it means to your pocketbook to remove that living room wall. Factors like: whether it is load bearing, if utilities need to be moved, or it just being a simple dividing wall, have a significant impact on cost. This way you can be prepared with the numbers for your non-negotiables or make tweaks to make the most of the investment you're putting into your home.
2. Buyer Beware: Online Project cost averages are NOT Always Accurate
Doing a quick search of “how much should my remodel cost” is often the first thing one does when planning out the future of their home projects. But be aware: Most online cost reports do not accurately reflect market trends, inflation costs, and other miscellaneous external factors... Nor will they reflect the true cost of hiring a professional contractor. A high-end remodeler, such as HC Remodel & Design, uses semi-custom to custom materials and fixtures, which may increase the expense, but will also increase the quality of your renovation.
Another thought to consider when doing your online research is that many Cost vs. Value articles will showcase how “budget-friendly” and “inexpensive” some updates can be. For example, repainting or replacing trim work may be “low-cost” options. The reality is that while the true cost per square foot may not be as expensive as removing a load bearing wall, those options will typically happen in larger areas, therefore compounding the cost for materials and labor. Trust that your Contractor isn’t charging you an arm and a leg for something you may think is inexpensive and remember that this cost spans a much larger amount of square footage.
3.Do Your Research!
If you’re starting with a Designer, get to know their work first and be sure that your Designer will work within your planned investment, too! Ensure their selections fit within your style and your finances by looking at their documents and past designs in their portfolio. (Our Tips for Finding a Designer can help get you started.)
When it comes to a Contractor, your Designer may have a few they prefer to work with that they will refer you to. Ask questions about them: Why do they [the Designer] recommend them? What do they specialize in? What are their primary values [and do they line up with yours]?
If your Designer doesn’t have a recommendation for a Contractor, or you decide to find one on your own, be sure you know what quality of work you want (AKA what the experience will be) before you start your search. Choosing a Contractor that does high-quality work and is trustworthy can help save you dollars down the road. Remember: most of the time, you get what you pay for!
4.It’s OK to Ask All the Questions!
Communication is key to avoiding sticker shock—something everyone wants to avoid. Be sure to constantly be communicating with your Designer. Before they even get started on your project, ask them what some of their previous clients have invested into their projects. Check on the levels of finishes and what those costs are (generally the more unique and/or custom features, the higher the cost will be). Be sure that you are comfortable with a Designer and Contractor’s “rough number”, so you don’t have to make major modifications to bring the investment range down as this usually causes delays and ends up costing more money in the long run.
Have fun with the “Dreaming” stage but be sure to have a little give-and-take, share a rough idea of your planned investment with your Designer, ask questions so you’re fully aware of expecting those costs, and be open and comfortable that your design may be more or less than what you anticipate. These things will help keep those remodel costs as realistic for you as possible.