Home Remodeling Checklist

Home Renovation Checklist:

1. Determine what you would like to accomplish from remodeling your home.  (new kitchen, adding square footage to your home, adding a mother in law suite, etc).  Talk to your local homeowners association and let them know your plans to make sure you are allowed to do what you are planning.  Next, contact your local city government and find out if there are any issues with your plans for your home renovations.  Building setbacks, zoning ordinances, height restrictions and easement locations should be discussed with the city.

2. Establish a preliminary budget for your home renovation.  If you are adding a room to your existing home, you can use $160 per square foot and multiply times the amount of square footage you are adding.  To figure square footage, multiply the length times the width of the new room.  Example: 15’x15′ room = 225 square feet.  225 x $160 = $36,000.  That is your ballpark estimate for your new room addition. Please keep in mind that there are MANY factors that determine construction costs.  Kitchens can range from $25,000 to $65,000 depending on the complexity of your kitchen remodel.  Bathrooms can range from $10,000 to $25,000 depending of the complexity of the bathroom remodel.

3. Contact your financial institution to find out if you qualify for the amount you came up with in Step 2.  Let the financing institution know that you are in the beginning stages of planning for  a home remodel and want to know if you qualify for the estimated amount.  Finding out your financing options beforehand can save you a lot of wasted time and wishful thinking.  At this stage, you should also consider if you will be “upside down” on your home mortgage.  Find out how much equity you have in your home and subtract the amount you will be borrowing.  If  the amount you are borrowing is more than the  amount of equity you have in your home, I would use caution.  If you have to sell your home in the next few years, will you get your money back?

4. Begin contacting local home remodeling contractors in your area.  Meet with a contractor to go over design options, material options and construction budget.  Get at least 3 competitive bids.  Choosing a contractor can be one of the hardest parts of the process.  Do you own research on the companies you are considering to hire and about what to expect from a home remodel in general.  Make sure they are licensed with your local city government, have current insurance, are members of the Better Business Bureau and can provide references of previous clients.  Talk to friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to find out their experiences with both home remodeling and the company they chose to hire.

5. After a design is chosen and materials are selected, you are ready to have the contractors bid the project based on the materials and design you have chosen.  Get at least 3 competitive bids.  Most people get “sticker shock” when they get the construction estimate.  You have a few options:  you can choose to cut back on the square footage you originally wanted or choose some more affordable materials to build your new room addition.

6. Finance your new home renovation.

7. After you have been approved for the loan and the loan has funded, you are ready to enter into a contract with the contractor you have chosen.  Make sure the contract has a scope of work and includes all the material and brand name information that you chosen.  The contract should have a payment or draw schedule that dictates at what stage you have to pay the contractor.  Typical draw schedules are as follows: 25% down, 25% when 50% of job is complete, 25% when job is 75% complete, 15% when job is 90% complete and 10% after final punch list and total job is complete.

8. Apply for building permits. The local city government will ensure that all requirements have been met in order to issue the proper permits for the job.

9. Begin construction.  How long does a home remodel take? Depending on the complexity of the design and material you have chosen, a home remodel can take anywhere from 6-8 months. Periodic inspections by city building inspectors should be expected.  This is to make sure that all construction work is being done to current code requirements.  You can also hire a third party inspector to make sure work is being done correctly (architect, engineer, inspector, etc)

10. During construction.  Expect a few things to go “not as planned” during construction.  Contractors don’t know what is behind a wall until he tears into it.  Unexpected problems can arise due to this (termites, rotted studs, bad electrical wiring, leaking pipes, etc)  You should have a “contingency budget” for these unexpected problems (3-5% of construction total).  This will help cut down on the amount of change orders. Bad weather, material and labor delays are common.  Meet with the contractor weekly to stay informed of project progress and timeline.

11. Nearing the end of construction.  Make  a punch list.  A punch list is a final ‘to do’ list that provides the contractor with an organized method of finishing all the remaining details — and is part of the final payment process. The punch list should be short: one page, 12 – 20 items. The final payment of 10% of the contract, should be withheld by the owner until all items on the punch list have been completed.

12. Project Completion.  Make sure that all inspections have been passed by your local city government.  A C of O (certificate of occupancy) or a LOC (letter of completion) should be issued by the city.

* Most construction will require some call backs to repair of items which were overlooked or not properly installed during the final punch list process. If these are small items, you may be able to make a list over a period of several weeks and have the contractor take care of several items during one service call.

*  The information above is meant to help guide you through the construction process.  Some project will require more or less steps.  For more information visit the Rhino Design Build Blog.