6 Things a Contractor and Homeowner Should Discuss BEFORE a Remodeling Project, But Rarely Do

Major home remodeling is in full swing.  Home values are on the rise, interest rates remain low, and lending institutions have several options to make your dream project a reality.  When choosing a remodeler to build your dream, you will discuss many aspects about the project and the company.  However, the items that are seldom discussed can be the most important, affecting not only your remodeling experience, but the outcome of the project.  Here is a small list that should be openly discussed.

6.   Interior Design:  You have decided to build a kitchen addition for your home.  You want an open space, have discussed the size, and the remodeler gave you a floor plan of the new design. You have even visited the recommended cabinet designer for a “3D” view of the kitchen.  What more should be discussed? Plenty!  Most remodelers do not consider, let alone discuss with you, how the new room will flow into the existing space.  How does the crown molding in the family room tie into the new crown for the cabinetry?  Where does the kitchen paint color end, and the family room paint begin?  When you are sitting at your new table, does the structural column block the view to the family room TV?  Discussing these items up front will make sure the end result of your project is exactly how you intended it to be, reduces the chance of extra costs, and helps eliminate project delays.

5.   Your Ongoing Schedule:  Just about every homeowner will ask their remodeler “How long will this project take?”  However, this question usually occurs at the initial meeting, and is never discussed again.   Your project could have changed significantly since that first meeting, changing the project duration.  It is imperative that your remodeler put the anticipated start and completion dates in writing .  In addition, the status of the schedule should be discussed at several pre-determined points in the project.  Knowing when a delay occurs, and how it will affect the completion, will allow you to plan accordingly, and make for a more pleasant experience.  Some companies offer a guaranteed on-time completion on remodeling projects, and update their clients weekly via email with progress reports.

4.   The Mess:  Remodeling is messy.  There is no way around it.  How your remodeler intends to control that mess needs to be discussed.  Will floor protection be used on the walkway to the work zone?  Will door jambs be protected?  How is the work zone going to be isolated from the rest of the home?  What actions will be taken if the dust protection is breached?  How often is the work zone cleaned?  Is a cleaning service brought in at the end of the project?  The cleanliness (or messiness) of a work site can make or break the relationship between a remodeler and a homeowner. The photo of the Zip Wall, to control the travel of dust and debris, is from a Mark of Excellence Design Build Remodel kitchen project in Fair Haven, New Jersey.

3.   Your Landscaping:  Your addition plan is set, and thankfully, the interior design has been discussed and properly addressed (see item #6).  The project is set to start next week and the remodeler has just come out to mark the area for excavation—Wait…What about the rose bushes?  Who is going to transplant them?  What about the dirt pile?  Excavation for the foundation could leave a pile of dirt the size of an SUV, and chances are the dirt is not in the condition you would want to “spread around” your yard.  You need to have a conversation about existing landscaping, dirt removal, and new landscaping once the project is complete.  Generally, the remodeler does not handle those items, but good ones will let you know what to expect, and the best way to handle them.

2.   Lighting/Electric:  Lighting and Electric are items that are often not discussed in detail by the remodeler.  The main reason—Effective electrical packages (lighting, switches, outlets) can be expensive, and it may be easier for the remodeler to avoid the issue until it is time to rough in the wiring.  That leaves you with either an electrical plan you are not satisfied with, or an extra expense you were not considering.  “Electric to code” seldom handles what the average homeowner is looking for.  Also, be sure to ask your remodeler if existing rooms will need hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors prior to finalizing the scope.

1.   Your Furniture:  If you are planning a major remodel, chances are furniture will need to be moved, closets and cabinets cleaned, and garages emptied.  Where does all this go? How does it get there?  Some remodelers offer to arrange the drop off and pick up of PODS (portable on-demand storage), and will include moving furniture in their scope, but DO NOT assume that all do!  The last thing you want is to be informed that your project is ready to start, and you do not have the ability to clear out so work can commence, and have an added expense before the project even begins!

To find out more about these, as well as other items to look for when planning a remodeling project,  contact the Design Build Planners to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.

2 thoughts on “6 Things a Contractor and Homeowner Should Discuss BEFORE a Remodeling Project, But Rarely Do

  1. Sue Linn

    Hi, we were doing some remodeling last year. I had really good contractors (they were recommended by many of my neighbours). We were discussing all the important things, I think every point in this small list. For me was especially number 4 – the mess important. I was really worried. But I was so surprised in the end. Our contractors used some of these “Pro-Tect” floor coverings and everything was perfect! I would like to recommend these products to everyone who is so afraid of mess as I am.


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