Planning a renovation from start to finish is essential to a project’s success. There are many steps in a remodel project; setting expectations, budget, planning the project, bidding, hiring a contractor, work being done in phases, and finally paying the contractor. All of these items should be planned for in the planning phase of your project to help it run smoothly. This is part 2 of a 3-part blog to help you plan your renovation project. In How to plan a renovation part 1 we discussed Step 1: Setting expectations and Step 2: Establishing a realistic budget.
Now that you know exactly what you want to change in or on your property and you also know exactly how much money you have to spend; let’s talk about step 3: How to plan for your renovation. The better the plan the smother the project will run. The more organized you are the less stress you should have.
A great plan is essential to the success of your remodel project. Remember a remodel is a living breathing thing. You have to have a great base plan with flexibility in it and understand that there WILL be things you nor your builder or designer planned for. Bad wiring, mold, animals, termites, broken plumbing, rotted anything. When you open the walls of a remodel project you never know what you are going to find. At The Flippin Designer we help clients plan a project from beginning to end. We do this by providing CAD floor plans, material selection and material schedules on CAD floor plans, 3D renderings so clients can see finished projects before anything is ever built (see an example of that below), virtual room boards, and project management. We came up with our process through our experiences doing our own builds and working with the trades over the years. During the remodel of a kitchen on the first property I ever owned, I demoed a wall and found a live 220-volt wire in the wall. Thankfully I did not grab it, and I am sorry to say it just happened again recently when we remodeled a 1920 bungalow. That home had 2 live wires buried in the plaster right above the tub the client had been using for years!! In another example, we recently remodeled a 10-year-old home which you will see in upcoming pics and blogs. The home had a built in TV center in the middle of the living room. When we removed the built in there were no floors underneath. That is the first time I had encountered that and due to the large gaping hole in the living room flooring and the fact that there was no flooring under the kitchen cabinets we ended up adding completely new flooring to an already strained budget. Fortunately, there was built in cost for refinishing the existing flooring and it did not put too big of a dent in the original budget, but it was definitely unexpected. The point here is the more thorough your plan is the less stressful or surprising it will be when your builder finds that unexpected item.
To accomplish an open floor plan for the new kitchen in this example we will be removing a wall to give the house an open floor plan. Seems simple right? Just rip out the old put in with the new slap your hands and its done. NOPE. Every action has a reaction, example, to remove a wall you need to know if it is load bearing or not. In many cities across the country you are required to hire a structural engineer to draw up a plan to secure the weight of the roof or second floor before removing any interior walls. Did you know that a load bearing wall carries weight all the way to the ground? I bet not and that’s why you use professionally trained people to make decisions about removing walls. In this example you also must consider when you removed the wall that there will be cost to repair the floors. If you are planning on keeping your existing floors, finished flooring does not run under walls there by requiring repair to fill in the space where the wall once stood. Since we are talking about demo, look at the walls being removed, do they have thermostats on them, do they have exterior vents or a chimney that will need to be moved, or is there HVAC for the interior of the home running in them? Also remember that there may be things in the walls you do not see such as plumbing, gas lines, or electrical main line runs. This is just an illustration of how much thought actually goes into planning.
You may need to plan your renovation in phases to meet your budget timeline. If this is the case planning the phases is essential to plan up front. Once a contractor opens up the walls of your project knowing what is coming next is important upfront and may save you money on the second phase. For instance, if you are doing a first-floor remodel and plan on doing the second floor at a later date there are some items that may be able to be planned for while the walls are open on the first floor. An example of this would be an upstairs bathroom remodel. While working on the first floor the contractor can have the ceiling open allowing an electrician, plumber, or a HVAC tradesmen access to the floor of the second story. While the ceiling is open, they can preset wires, move plumbing, or even move the ventilation pipes to accommodate a major change on the second floor. Why is this important? The answer is simple, you do not want to have to tear out and replace the ceiling a second time when it was already open. Also, remember contractors and tradesmen are people too and they charge more for double work and aggravation.
You need to think the entire process through; does your project require new can lights in the ceiling, adding island lighting, do you need to move your electric for new modern appliances, etc. All these items cost money, to add can lights you need to open up the ceiling causing cost for new wiring and drywall replacement when it’s done. Appliances require their own individual electrical circuit, if you have an old home this may not exist and need to be added. Is your current electric up to today’s code and can it handle new circuits? You can plan on one thing, when your builder pulls a permit for a project, most states require the builder to bring everything he touches up to today’s code so plan for that cost.
In the new kitchen example will you be putting in a new back-splash? What kind of tile is it? Is the tile individual pieces or sheets, ceramic or cement? These things all matter to the cost of construction. Your builder will most likely charge more if you are using a hard to deal with tile and want it in a herringbone pattern. What type of floor is going to go into the remodeled area? Is it possible to match your old flooring? If its wood floors you are adding to you will need to plan on refinishing your old floors in non-construction areas so they match the newly added flooring. If you are connecting to an engineered floor you need to know if the manufacturer still makes the floor so you can connect to it. Even if they do, remember that the old floor is old and the new floor will look new and not match perfectly.
It is now time to start putting your ideas to paper so you can bid the project. Think the entire process through in baby steps. The more you do this before getting other people involved the better prepared you will be to discuss this. Contractors work best with clear direction. At “The Flippin Designer” we supply the contractor with CAD drawings of what is coming and give them a list of finish materials they will be installing. Whether you are using a professional to set this up for you or doing it yourself get a pad and paper and write down in an organized fashion what you think needs done. Use my tips from the first and second blog as a guide, what is being demoed, do you need to move or add electric-plumbing-HVAC, what are your finish materials and so on. This way when you are meeting with builders or tradesmen you will have a clear vision of what you need them to do. This helps everyone give you the best pricing the first time. Builders and tradesmen love to use the term “change order” but in real life they hate them. A change order means something was added or deleted and that changes the order and cost of construction. A change order is going to cost you more money in most cases. You do not get to put a change order out to bid, its the contractors discretion to determine the cost. The builder or tradesmen will determine the cost of the change order based on the aggravation level and amount of extra work the change creates. The better you stick to the plan the smoother the project is for them. Make sure when discussing plans with the builder you stress that you want the project permitted. This does cost you a few extra bucks and some contractors will try to talk you out of it. Trust me when I tell you it is there to protect you. It does not add that much cost and could cost you a lot more if you get caught not having it permitted.
In the final blog I will cover bidding, hiring a contractor, and how to pay. If you are planning a renovation in Charleston, SC and you need help contact The Flippin Designer on our project inquiry tab located on our website and we will get back to your right away. The Flippin Designer is located in Charleston, SC. Our design team works locally and nationally on interior design projects and construction planning. We currently have projects in all phases in Mt. Pleasant, Charleston, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, Sullivan’s Island, & Myrtle Beach SC, as well as New Buffalo, MI and Chicago, IL.