Managing Remodeling Concerns ??? Money
Remodeling can be stressful. Surveys show that people???s concerns fall into 5 categories: 1) Crooks, 2) Money, 3) Disappointment, 4) Disruption and 5) Losing Control. In this installment, we???ll focus on the second category, Money.
A remodeling project is a significant investment. Making the right level of investment and controlling the total cost are both critically important. How do you make sure it happens?
Start with budget. Evaluate what you need, what you want and what you can afford. By reconciling these elements at the beginning of your remodeling planning process, you put yourself in control and eliminate a lot of frustration.
We recommend you start with an honest self assessment of your finances. Pouring time and creativity into a project beyond your means is guaranteed disappointment. Spending more than you can really afford is a recipe for stress and regret.
Wants vs Needs. Make a list of what you truly need and then note things that you would like to have. Then research realistic budgets for projects similar to your list. Remodeling professionals, supply houses, family and friends, magazines and the internet are all places to seek budget information. A particularly well organized site is the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2013.
The make-up of your project. Cross reference what you???ve learned about different projects with your finances and make some tentative decisions about the level of project to pursue 1) necessary repairs 2) cosmetic upgrades 3) pull and replace major items 4) full re-design renovation. By committing (at least tentatively) to a particular level, you insulate yourself from the many internal and external pressures that can blow you off course into a project that is out of scale to your financial goals.
To splurge or not to splurge? As you move forward into detailing the project, establish a mindset to address scope creep which is the unrelenting pressure to add items to the project as its being planned. The danger lies in the phrase, ???For only X dollars more, I can have Y!??? and it comes at you from everywhere. We suggest you manage it with scrimp and splurge discipline ??? for each potential splurge, find an offsetting scrimp otherwise nip the add on idea in the butt before you get your heart set on it.
Control cost during production. With the project defined, the next challenge is controlling costs during production. Most people know someone who breaks out in hives at the mention of the term, ???change order???. A change order (or CO) is a contractor???s form used to document and bill for a change in the scope of the project. COs come in two varieties, 1) changes made by the customer after building has begun and 2) hidden conditions (things that must be fixed that weren???t evident before work began).
The key to controlling COs is doing your homework. This means being clear about what you want and what you are buying. Assumptions are a dangerous thing! Put it / get it in writing and ask lots of questions. What isn???t included that is needed to complete this job? What is the worst case scenario going on behind my shower wall? What happens timing wise and money wise if that???s what you find? etc. If the person you???re thinking about working with seems annoyed or impatient with giving you complete answers, find someone else. Good remodelers know their reputation and referrals depend on clients being clear and confident about a project before work begins.
The lesson here is to make sure you like what you???ve selected and that it fits where it is to be installed before any money changes hands. Control both varieties of potential change orders, do your homework, ask lots of questions and get it in writing.