It is rare to meet someone who has undergone a home renovation that hasn’t complained that it took too long. Having worked on home renovation projects of varying scales for homeowners getting their house ready to sell or prior to move in or even when they’re living in the home, I have found that there are certain things that help make a project move quickly and efficiently. Whenever I see projects drag on and on for months, even years, it’s because they’re lacking in one or more of these areas. Granted, there are things that come up that are out of your control, but I can promise that if you follow the tips below, you’ll reduce your project timeline significantly.
First and foremost, Have a Plan – Sounds simple enough right? I want to renovate my kitchen or bath. That’s a start, but there’s much more to it than that. Consult with your contractor about your project and find out a realistic time frame to start and complete the work. I recommend you get a calendar and use it as a project tracker. If it’s going to take 6 weeks for example, mark what the finish date is on the calendar. Then, reverse engineer or back track everything that needs to be done and assign a date to everything. For example, Day 1 Demolition, Day 2 Remove popcorn ceiling, Day 3 electrical rough-in, etc. This will also help you know what materials you need and when. For example, if you’re doing demolition on Day 1, you’ll need a dumpster on site. If you’re hiring a General Contractor to work on your project, they will handle these details, but it’s good to ask what you need to provide and what they will provide. If you are installing cabinets on Day 30, and it takes 4 weeks to order the cabinets, that means you need to get the floor plan designed immediately so that an order can be placed and delivered in time.
Have a realistic budget. How will you fund your project? Savings? Loan? Credit Cards? A gut kitchen or bath renovation is not inexpensive. Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars even on the low end. Make a list of everything you’ll need: cabinets, flooring, lighting, appliances, fixtures, sinks, disposal, toilet, tub, knobs, and more. Also, who is going to do the work. Is this a DIY project or will you be employing professionals? If you’re going with the DIY route, be realistic about your abilities and how much time you have to contribute to the renovation considering your other responsibilities – full time job, family, etc.
Know What You Want. Do you have a particular style that you like? How do you want the space to function? How do you envision using the space? What all needs to fit in the space? In the kitchen, consider storage for all the dishes, pots, bakeware, glassware and cookbooks. In the bathroom, consider the number and kind of people using the space (adults, children, pets, guests), storage needs, privacy, etc. These are important things to consider so that you can design a space that fits your lifestyle. Additionally, what kind of material do you want for flooring, countertops, cabinets, etc. Doing some research in advance will help you narrow choices to fit within your budget. If you truly don’t have any idea, I recommend looking through trade magazines and tearing out pictures of rooms that speak to you. Put together an inspiration folder which will help you and/or a designer create your dream space.
Have Your Vendors Lined Up. Whether this is a DIY project or completely outsourced, you need to have the right people to help you. Get referrals from friends and family who have had good experiences. Use online referral resources. If there are red flags, listen and turn the other way. A good friend of mine and her husband used a contractor to renovate their bathroom in their old home and had a horrible time getting him to complete the job in the time frame he promised. When they moved into a new home and was interviewing contractors, they considered him again even though their previous experience was not good. Guess what? They had a similar, if not, worse experience when they hired him to work on their gut kitchen remodel and ultimately had to hire someone to finish the work. Price for services should be a consideration, but never the determining factor.
Have all Your Materials Chosen and Purchased. This is extremely important because without material, the contractor can’t do anything. Last thing you want is a contractor showing up at the job site ready to work and not being able to. By creating the project timeline with your contractor initially, you know what the general time frame is for specific things to be installed. Make sure you do your shopping in advance and always ask what the availability is. Is the material in-stock or is it a special order item. If so, what is the lead time? Not worth waiting weeks for one item which could hold up the entire project.
Make Decision Quickly. This is probably the most challenging of all because it is where everything starts and ends. If you hem and haw over the details, you will find yourself wasting time and frustrating everyone working on your project, including yourself. If you know you have a difficult time making decisions or if you and your spouse have difficulty agreeing, hire a design consultant to help you. This will make everything much easier and keep you on schedule. Also, don’t overdo the research. Yes, learn about the flooring, but ultimately, choose the best flooring that fits within your budget. Same goes for appliances and all the other material.
I hope you find these tips helpful and again, if you follow them, I promise you will reduce your project timeline. When it comes to more involved upgrades, I highly recommend consulting a professional. We know what needs to be taken into consideration which will help you save money on the front end by avoiding costly errors. Have fun and good luck on your projects! Please leave your comments below.