Home Renovations: Advice from Homeowners

Are you thinking about or already planning home renovations?

Trying to figure out how to get an ideal outcome minus the stress and worry that often accompanies a home improvement project?

Well, who better to get home renovation advice from than people who have ‘been there and done it’. I’ve researched and reviewed some key advice from homeowners who have taken on some major home renovations – things like bathroom and kitchen renos, room additions and even whole home renovations.

Here’s what those homeowners suggested as the best advice to someone undertaking Home Improvements:

Find the Contractor you can trust. This may seem somewhat obvious but its amazing how many times a project goes amuck and when you ask the homeowner where things went wrong they often say something like, “I just knew in my gut my contractor didn’t really know what he was doing.” or “I felt uncomfortable right from the start.” Having a good working relationship with a contractor you know you can trust is crucial to having a good home renovation experience. Take the time to get to know the contractors you are considering. It’s important to check them out thoroughly so you can make a sound decision based on facts and intuition. Ask a lot of questions when you meet with a contractor so you can get a good read. Don’t forget to ask for references and to speak with previous customers. You may even want to visit some of their past and current projects. You really want to feel have a feeling of security and confidence – If this guy does something like that for me I will be very happy! On the more rational side you also need to make sure the contractor you chose is financially stable. It’s good to hire a nice guy you can trust but you want to be sure he will be around in the future. Balance your emotions with the facts. It can be challenging to nail it down exactly but the bottom line is that you need to have that “gut feeling” that you can trust and work well with this person.

Learn about everything your Contractor does. A lot of homeowners don’t realize that many professional renovation contractors offer more than just construction services. Many of them also provide renovation design and planning services. You may already be  working with an architect or designer but don’t forget your contractor has a lot of practical on-job-experience and he can add a tremendous value to the planning and design process. One of our clients really appreciated the perspective we could provide he said,

Paul saw opportunities for improvement and gave us alternatives to the major structural changes we were originally thinking of. This saved us time and money in the end.

Get it in Writing. To avoid misunderstandings and minimize the chance of mistake be sure to get a detailed written contract.

When we saw Paul had it everything we had discussed written out in great detail we knew he understood what we wanted. We also knew everything which would be done and how much it was going to cost us. This was such a reassuring feeling. We slept sound at night knowing there wouldn’t be any surprises.

Understand all the facts before the project begins. What does your project really look like from a work perspective? How will the project be done and who will be doing each part? What impact will this have on your family? and on your day to day living? Are there parts of the project where you might be better moving out for a period of time? Is there a process for making changes? The more you know about the whole project the less concerned you will feel when it’s underway.

Get involved and be an active participant in your project. Lets face it this is your investment and your home, so you need to be involved. It’s a good idea to follow the progress and be aware of what’s going on. The best outcome is the result of clear and open communication. That’s the key to a good working relationship between you and your contractor. A professional renovator will provide regular updates and is easy to get in touch with. Be prepared to invest your own time in the project – your contractor will want to go over drawings, the progress of your project, and options when a change is necessary.

Don’t expect Perfection.  A professional always focuses in excellence and part of the process is accepting that problems will arise. The best contractors aren’t perfect but they accel at solving problems. The bigger your project, the more likely it is you will encounter some problems. Things like hidden deficiencies, delays and bad weather to name a few. It’s important to be flexible and adaptable. Accept that some things are simply beyond your control and beyond the control of your renovator.

We had great rapport with Paul and his team. When an issue arose Paul was quick to point it out and give us the best options for a solution.

Plan ahead for your best finish. One of the most time consuming parts of a project is choosing the numerous finishes required to complete the project – things like cabinets, flooring and fixtures.  Set aside plenty of time for this and start your shopping early. There may be significant order times for special products. Look to your contractor for building tips, advice and direction. Their experience from other jobs can help you make the best choices.

Budget additional money for extras. When a renovation project begins, it’s very uncommon for homeowners to want to make changes and an an upgrade here or there. You may have set a budget range for say flooring or aplicances but then when it came time to shop you discovered that perfect tile was actually 10% more or you could add that extra feature you have always wanted for just $50 more. You get the idea – we’ve all been there!

When we planned our renovation it was all about the budget – what we could live with but once got into we realized that just getting by – just living with something wasn’t what we really wanted. We deserved better. Besides this was probably the only major renovation we would ever do so why get those extra little bits of luxury that make us feel good?

It’s The Little Things that often count most. Small gestures and habits by a professional renovation contractor can leave a big impression. On the other hand small annoyances can drive you crazy!

They cleaned up after themselves every single day. They  removed garbage and extras so we didn’t have too. We hadn’t even considered how important that was until we experienced it. It made a big difference to us.

We had some ideas for buying and renovating a home. Paul went shopping with us and pointed out the pros and cons of each location. Things we never would have thought of. And we hadn’t even hired him to build our home yet. Talk about service before the sale!

Things are gonna get Messy! Lastly, our homeowners reminded us that there is no getting away from it. Dust, dirt and inconvenience is simply part of any home renovation project.  But in the end it’s well worth putting up with the mess.

We loved seeing progress everyday! It’s so  satisfying to take a walk around at the end of the day after all the workers have left. We would look around and see our dream coming together – piece by piece right before our eyes.And when it was all done, we could remember and feel it was all worth it!

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