Let the Home Renovation Journey Begin: How to Survive (and even love) Your Remodeling Project!

We’ve all at one time or another considered renovating our home. Perhaps your house is a bit dated, maybe you just need something different, life circumstances could be changing on you and your current structure needs to accommodate. Whatever the reason, it’s time, and yet you’re hesitant because you’ve heard that the process of home remodeling can be an overwhelming journey at times. Questions inevitably arise: will we have to move out? Where will we live? Who will we get to perform the work? And how about our budget, do we need a loan? Let the uncertainties start to overtake you, and your remodel project is doomed before it begins. This is where you take a deep breath, have a glass of wine and read this introductory guide on how to prepare for and ultimately survive your home remodel—don’t worry, you got this!


What Do You Want Out of Your Home Renovation?

Pretty basic question right…But you’d be amazed at how many people fail to start with this simple concept. What is it that you are hoping to achieve with your renovation? What do you need out of the end result? Basically, we’re focusing here on #homeremodelgoals.

So let’s say for instance you family is growing–a little one on the way or grandma and grandpa are moving in. Given either scenario, you need a bigger house period, which means adding on, which means major renovation, which means sitting down with an architect and designer to plan the perfect space for your blossoming family tree. Perhaps you’re thinking of a first floor master suite addition, or it could be building up in order to add rooms to the second story, maybe it involves a complete basement-to-livable-space overhaul. Again, for this type of project, you’re not going to just wing it. This is the job for a professionally trained architect or designer with the experience, tools and resources necessary to design such a space.

Scenario #2: Maybe you bought your house back when reality television was considered a passing fade and smartphones were an anomaly. Definitely time for an update. Whether a whole home remodel or just focusing a few critical rooms, the personnel you enlist for this one will depend upon the overall scope and complexity of the project. If tearing down walls, adding windows and doors, you more than likely are going to need to consult with an architect or engineer. If sticking to more cosmetic enhancements, a general contracting firm may be sufficient. Or, in either case, perhaps you might want to seek out a comprehensive design-build firm that can take your remodel job from start to finish.

The long and the short of it is, in this first phase you absolutely need to sit down, establish the rationale behind your remodel and consequently decide on what you’d like to see once the house is finished.


Finding the Right Team for Your Remodel

Now that you’ve determined what you want to see happen and why, you need to find the qualified professionals that can transform your vision into reality. Interviewing is everything here. Whether that architectural firm to start, a design-build company or a general contracting team, you need to establish a list of questions and ask for the requisite documentation from each person and/ or company you interview in order to get a good feel for their capabilities and suitability given your particular remodel project. If for example, you are looking to engage an architect to design your addition or redesign your upstairs, here are a few sample questions you might want to have prepared:

  • What is your overall design philosophy?
  • How many projects of this nature have you worked on? Do you have the references?
  • How do you typically handle the unexpected that may come up during the course of a remodel?
  • What type of timetable are we looking at?
  • Do you foresee any challenges with this project?
  • Do you follow the project through to completion?

On the other hand, when interviewing a contracting/building company, your questions may look more like this:

  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Are you licensed/insured?
  • Do you subcontract out all of your work? Some? None?
  • How do you handle change orders? Delays? Material substitutions?
  • What type of warranty of you offer on the work done?

The point is, when looking for a reputable designer, architect, or builder, you want to ask questions, and of course, you want all of those questions answered. A company that hesitates, that is reluctant to be forthcoming with information is probably a company that you want to think twice about working with. Also, it’s generally a wise move to interview at the very least 3 different companies/individuals for the various facets of your project. Rule of thumb suggests that you look at the resumes/portfolios and subsequently interview an average of 3-5. This is how you get a better feel for what exactly they can offer and the various approaches that companies/people might take given your specific remodeling job.


Okay, So How Am I Paying for All of This?

A very important question…You now have the ideas flowing, a killer, no-messing-around team is in place, at this point you have to figure out how you’re going to fund this bad boy. Here is where the banks come into play–unless of course you have the cash to pay for the remodel in full. Which, if that’s the case kudos! Most of us however, for more substantial projects of this nature, generally have to take out a loan. There are actually a variety of ways you can do this. From home renovation loans where banks will allow you to take out money based upon what the house will be worth post-remodel, to home equity lines of credit (HELOC), to refinancing your house where you take cash out based upon the equity you have, there are numerous ways to go about procuring the capital needed for your remodel. The best way for you…make an appointment to talk to someone at your bank and see what you qualify for, what makes the most sense given your situation, and what the most affordable loan product might be for your home remodel.

While remodeling your house may seem like a fairly large and potentially exasperating undertaking, if you just take the time to plan and prepare, it can be incredibly rewarding and maybe even a little bit fun. The key is not to let the stress of the initial phases deflate the hopes and visions you have for what your eventual “dream home” is going to look like.