There are a lot of things to consider in a remodeling project. A major renovation project is all about decisions. As a homeowner, we had to make a lot of choices on the design, material, and so much more. When we started our renovation project, just like any homeowner, we were overwhelmed and scared. There were a lot of things that could go wrong, or even worse, the final product may not be to our liking. In this post, we will outline the process and procedures we followed to make this renovation a success.
Last week, I shared how this remodeling project started. And this week, it is about all the things to consider before remodeling.
The three main things that are important to any renovation project are-
How to scope your project?
The first and foremost step in any project is to understand the scope of the project. This is an iterative process. We start from the high-level work items like the rooms that will be part of the renovation and then detail further to the individual tasks.
This is an essential step for several reasons. Once the scope of work is identified, it’s easy to get quotes from vendors and derive the budget and schedule of the project.
In our case, the following were the rooms that we renovated.
- Living room
- Utility space
- Place of worship (Pooja room)
We worked from here to create a work breakdown.
Work Breakdown Example –
We created this for every room, and this is what we shared with contractors to get the quote. This document grew in detail as every contractor added more to it. Like I have mentioned before, we have no prior experience in doing a renovation, so we were learning as we progressed further. As we completed this exercise, we were able to derive the material needed for the project. The following were the significant materials required.
- Construction materials (Demolition & construction)
- Sink & faucets
- Light fixtures
*We will provide detailed materials as we explore each of the items in future posts
Once the materials were scoped, the next was to pick the contractors. In most cases, you may engage a general contractor who does all or part of the work and then sub-contracts other workers as needed. If you cannot dedicate time to oversee the projects, it’s better to hire a general contractor and save yourself from coordinating with the individual contractors.
Trust me when I say, the most challenging work in the entire renovation was coordinating between the contractors.
In our case, we hired one contractor for construction, electricals, and hired individual contractors for cabinet installation and countertop installation. The coordination was challenging, but it was well worth it. Since we did our designs, we needed experts who would work with me to ensure our designs were realized. We will go into the details of the contractor selection process and quotes in individual posts.
We highly recommend hiring a designer to help with the designs. Even though we did our own designs, I consulted it with a professional designer for validation.
Especially if there is more custom work, like custom cabinets or making new rooms, a well-established design is critical.
Do not start your project without finalizing all the work items. You need to know the entire scope of the work including the materials and the rough estimate of what’s it going to cost you.
How to estimate the budget?
The next step is to estimate the budget. Most homeowners have a bitter experience with renovation projects as the budgets overshoot during the project. The secret to completing your project on budget and schedule is to spend more time in the research and planning phase.
After collecting initial quotes from contractors, it’s essential to set the max budget. Of that, set aside 10% for contingency. Now the remaining is the budget available to complete the project. We completed this major project within $1000 of the original budget. Planning is the key to achieve this.
Here’s a sample of how I was tracking the cost of the project.
Most of the time spent during the research and planning phase was to ensure we buy the right quality materials within the allocated budget. This was also important to make the right compromises across the project.
During the research phase, you need to also understand your priorities and where you can compromise. As an example, we got a quote of $5K and a quote of $60k for the same scope of work. While both were valid quotes, the difference was in the quality and the conformance to design. We will explain the process by which we made the final selection in a future post.
Here is how we allocated our budget. This may be quite different in an individual’s case depending upon the materials and style etc. Again, we will be discussing this in future posts.
A major concern in renovation work is ballooning budgets. Make sure to get all estimates ahead and identify areas where material or work can be compromised to keep the budget in check.
How to plan your schedule?
The next step is to plan the schedule. This is very important to coordinate between the various contractors. It’s important to finalize the contractors and get the exact date they will complete the work. Some of the work items can start only after the previous work is complete.
As an example, countertop templates cannot be done without the cabinets being installed. Appliances cannot be installed before countertops are fully installed.
Any delay in the schedule will overshoot the budget. It’s essential to plan the dates and incorporate some buffer. If a particular activity is delayed, make sure you work with the contractors to reschedule their time.
The entire schedule is controlled by how you manage the dependency. Have a written confirmation from the contractors about the work schedule. Make sure you allocate buffer time as well to coordinate and eliminate the idle work time.
I hope the above information is helpful in planning your project. We will start discussing the details of our kitchen in the next post.
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