First we want to say THANK YOU!! to everyone who came by to see our listing on 4112 36th Street !! We were absolutely blown away by the neighborhood response to this Property. From all of our conversations/feedback, it occurred to us how our neighborhood is in need of good contractor recommendations and advice. We will be dedicating our blog for the entire month of June to Fairlington Remodeling, featuring the different renovations from small to large projects on every budget.
**Disclaimer** We do not have paid sponsor’s or receive a benefit from the folks we plug here in this blog. As a Fairlingtonian myself I am sick and tired of my neighborhood being ripped off by contractor’s charging high rates that we all know are unfair. This is my attempt to free us and to get better pricing, better service, and a reputation that stands up 🙂
Step 1: Plan, Budget,and Design
Whether you are looking for a project to increase the value of your home, create a better utilization of space, or just update the aesthetic of your home, to be successful you must have a plan. Consider all factors such as design, time, budget, and inconvenience that the project may cause. Allow yourself to get inspired by your project- Don’t rush this part! Explore Pinterest, designer blogs, and magazines to find inspiration. Like most people on a budget I like to get inspired by high end design and then find those concepts at a reasonable price. There are also a ton of *free resources available to help you tie your design ideas together- links below to some of my favorite sites/stores. Keep in mind construction is an art not a science and sometimes there are mistakes or unforeseen conditions. You should allow for this in your timeline and budget. I do not recommend picking a project and maxing out the budget from the start – this can create a large amount of stress down the road should you run into issues. If you are staying in your home during a renovation consider how you will live around the mess- for example if you are doing a kitchen update, you will be eating take out for the duration of the project which may sound great, but can be a huge hassle.
Step 2: Estimates and Shop Material
I recommend starting with at least two estimates from two different contractors. Try to talk them down in price, but understand they need to make a (reasonable) profit too. Make sure your contractor has an updated license, insurance, and is bonded. Should there be an accident or performance problem, you will want a contractor with all of these in order to minimize your risk and exposure. Your estimate is an approximation of what a project could cost, it can go up or down depending on the material, timing, and any issues that arise. If your estimates seem high- ask your contractor if you can price shop some of the materials. Light fixtures, granite, cabinets, and vanities can all be found at whole sale stores. Linked below are some of our favorites we recommend to clients. This takes a lot of coordination with your contractor, but can save you literally thousands. The key with buying your own material is to have everything selected and on site for your contractor before they begin the work.
Step 3: Schedule the Work
Discuss an ideal time frame for the work to be completed based on you and your contractor’s schedules. Communication is key! I recommend solidifying everything in writing, email is fine, or you can use a boiler plate short form contract- whichever you are more comfortable with. The timeline should be included and or acknowledged in writing with what are called milestone’s of the work. These milestones usually include partial payment for work completed. For example, if you are doing a kitchen remodel, a typical milestone is installation of cabinets. Once complete you will inspect, then address any concerns and release payment. In exchange for payment, we recommend that you obtain a Lien and Claim Waiver from the contractor. This way, the contractor is acknowledging payment and cannot file a lien against your home for the work covered by the payment. The money/milestone’s keeps everyone working toward a common goal. If there are ever issues always communicate via email so your contract can refer back. Final payment is only issued at the end of the project, once you are happy and satisfied with all of the completed tasks. Make sure to document all payments* especially final payment so the contractor cannot come back and say they are missing money down the line.
Step 4: Manage Expectations
Managing the expectations of you and your contractor is probably one of the hardest part’s of any home renovation. This isn’t like the HGTV shows you see where you walk out and walk back in and the reno is done. You are living it, seeing it, and most importantly inconvenienced by this whole process. The best thing you can do for your contractor and yourself is to set up a good way to communicate. There is a lot of back and forth so keeping track for documentation is critical. Obviously email and text are ideal but not everyone prefers those methods. If it’s written just keep a running list of what is outstanding and agreed upon/changed with initials. This is for the protection of you and the contractor. It’s easy to want to be trusting, but if there is a miscommunication you will be so thankful to have something to refer back to. If you are new to renovation work, the end is the hardest part. In the beginning there is a lot of energy and progress, but the finishing work can be painfully slow. To ensure your contract keeps moving make sure to have a final completion date documented. Do not make an enemy out of your contractor, there is almost always going to be back and forth, little fixes, mess up’s, and frustration. By setting up expectations at the beginning it will alleviate a lot of those issues down the road.
My favorite part of a renovation is that not only are you improving the enjoyment of your home, you are also (hopefully) increasing your home’s value! Although there are projects we do for style, and those we do for function, most updates will give you a return on investment. If you are curious how your project will affect the value of your home, shoot me an email or text and I’d be happy to provide some insight 🙂 I hope we provided a good outline of how to tackle a home renovation project. Later this month we will feature some before/after projects from our clients, contractor recommendations, and 2017 style favorites. Subscribe here to get our latest blog 🙂