What to expect on a home remodel

Home Remodeling should be exciting. I deal with tons of homeowners every year here in San Antonio and Alamo Heights. The reality of it is often less so. In fact, for many people remodeling is nothing but frustration. Prepare yourself for the upcoming project as best as possible.  Chances are they are people who didn’t think their project through as well as they could have. Ask anyone who has ever done a major remodel and they’ll have stories of the many things they learned the hard way.

Even the most careful planning doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it will certainly limit the frustration and unpleasant surprises along the way.

Here are some things you need to know before you begin:

Learn from those who have remodeled before you. Talk to friends and family who have done home remodeling or a room addition in the past. For those who love home improvement magazines and television shows, it’s easy to get stuck in the dreaming stage of remodeling. Time spent listening to the experiences of others will make you much more aware of the reality of remodeling.
Prepare for the unexpected. This is especially true if you live in an older home. Sometimes tearing into a wall brings up unexpected problems.  We don’t have xray vision, so it could be that the plumbing or electrical is bad… just know that there will likely be something. Make sure you have some contingency plans — extra money in the budget (3-5% of total construction budget) and extra time. If it all goes smoothly then you’ll have more to play with for fun details at the other end.
Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts in remodeling usually lead to costly troubles down the road. There’s a good reason why you’re supposed to do it the right way. It works. If you don’t feel you have the time, or the money, to do it right then chances are you need to wait.  I have turned down jobs before because the homeowner’s don’t have a realistic budget in place.  And please don’t attempt to do any of the work yourself.  Not only, will most contractor’s insurance companies not allow this, but it will slow the project time line considerably.  Having a professional do the work correctly will help improve your home’s resale value.  I’ve seen home’s actually depreciate because work wasn’t done properly and the cost’s associated with fixing the mistakes were expensive.
Take the time to hire the right contractor. By the time you hire a professional you should have checked their credentials, seen examples of their work and talked with other homeowners who used their services. If you did your background work then you should be able to trust that they will do a good job. I have spent years getting the right team in place that works well together and does quality work.  This is good news for you.  I’ve weeded out all the bad contractors and one’s that are not trust worthy.  Visit www.bbb.org to view the contractors rating.  Rhino Design Build has a “A” rating, by the way.
If at all possible, try not to live at your house when it is under construction. If you have children, I strongly urge you to plan on living elsewhere if you are planning a major renovation.  See below:

Home Remodeling is dusty, messy, noisy work. It is difficult to live in a home that is undergoing a major remodeling project. Tensions build. Tempers flare. People begin to feel resentful and angry. If it’s a part of the house that is not in daily use then maybe you can live through it. If it’s the bathroom, kitchen or new living area that’s being done, everyone will be a lot happier if you go somewhere else for the worst of it.  I have have had clients stay with relatives or close friends for a couple weeks.  Trust me….it is worth it.

Know what you want to do before you begin.Think the whole layout through and try to anticipate how those changes will affect the home. Talk to your general contractor and raise any thoughts or concerns you have with him. Yes, during remodeling it is not uncommon to discover something extra that needs to be done (a problem with the wiring rotted wood/subfloor, plumbing issues, for example) but don’t add new ideas just on a whim. For the sanity of all involved make sure you have the parameters of the project clearly defined.
Negotiate a contract. Even if the work is being done by someone you know well, make sure you have a written contract. This will ensure everyone is clear of what is to be done, how much it will cost, and a schedule for completion. The process of negotiating a contract also helps homeowners get more comfortable asking questions and talking about the process with the contractor, making ongoing communication much easier.
Make sure your calendar is wide open. Don’t plan a major home remodeling project or a room addition just before some major family event to take place in your home. Although it is understandably tempting to want to have your home at its recently remodeled and shining best before relatives from another state come to visit, try to resist the temptation. It is a recipe for disaster. A schedule for completion is important, but when remodeling deadlines only serve to make everyone crazy.  Please make color and material selections that appeal to the masses.  This will save you from having to repaint that camoflauge wall if you have to sell your house.