Things to think about when you are considering a renovation project.
As an Interior Designer for many years, I have worked on countless renovation projects of all sizes and budgets. I have put together a list of the first steps to consider before starting a project or contact an experienced professional.
Working through these steps will not only help the renovation process but most of all it will help You have a clear picture of the important things to consider before starting the project.
Make a list of what you “think” or “know” is a must, for example: (Let’s assume we are talking about a kitchen renovation project).
MUST HAVE LIST:
- New cabinets
- Sink & fixtures
- Drywall repairs, Paint,
- New task and ambient lighting (or lighting if you don’t know for sure)
- Paint colors
- Will there be an island
Is it a must? Would I love to have it?
- Flooring (This may/or may not be included in the list above)
- Open up wall to dining
- Replace large window with a patio door
- Add a built-in on the other side of the Great room
Here is an example of how flooring may be on either list.
If you are renovating your kitchen, is the flooring something that you are unhappy with and want to replace?
Based on your preliminary vision – will it need to be replaced because the footprint of your kitchen is changing?
The flooring must stay you love it, OR it was recently replaced.
If so then consider this:
Do you have enough left over flooring to make repairs?
When it comes to the “MUST HAVE’S” note down everything that is important to you. There will be plenty of time to edit later, but if you don’t list it you may wake up at night thinking about it. If you have it on paper chances are it won’t pop into your head while you are trying to rest.
While listing the “MUST HAVE’S”, it’s super important to list what you would love to do or have, but not sure if the budget, time, logistics etc will allow it. That is why a WISH LIST IS SO IMPORTANT. Remember this is just the beginning there will be plenty of time to edit your lists later. Think of this process as organized brainstorming.
How Do I Want To Feel
This is the “How do I want to feel” stage.
You would be surprised how most homeowners are stumped by this question. We are comfortable when asked what we want or how we want the kitchen to function, which colors we like or even what style. But often when I ask clients how they want to feel in their new kitchen? I sense a bit of surprised and almost a coy and unspoken …. feel? I didn’t consider how I want to feel. On occasion, I have been asked: “What has feelings got to do with it?”
The way you want to feel in your new space is as important as to how you want it to look. When you are aware how you want to feel in your space it will ease the process towards knowing how you want your space to look and function. The end result? an amazing space that is uniquely yours.
Important Questions To Ask
After the initial details of how you want to feel, and what you would like to see in your new space. Then we move on to these important questions below: Ask yourself …
- What am I willing to do? In terms of obtaining permits, interviewing and or hiring the different trades, scheduling, managing.
- What do I have time to do?
- What do I want to do? There are a lot of details and moving parts, professionals in the field are experienced with all of those details and there is a sequence that is important to the completion of the project in timely and cost-effective manner.
Here are some other things to consider when pondering the above questions.
- Did you know that if you are willing to act as your own general contractor you can save about 30%+ on labor costs?
- Did you know that if you act as your own general contractor you don’t need to sacrifice quality, craftsmanship, or necessarily hire unlicensed professionals?
Also, if your renovation project involves moving load-bearing walls, foundations, and is essentially a big project – then perhaps, you want a general contractor.
When working with an Interior Designer who has Project Management experience, as well as the construction and design process, the designer can then assist you with sourcing and hiring the right trade professionals for your project.
This way you won’t be completely on your own when it comes to the selection of the right trades, the sequence of the build/construction, permit processing, project management and design management.
However, this is not a one size fits all solution there are a lot of variables not only in regards to the project but also the client, the situation, the budget etc.
The above factors will alter the bottom line of the budget as there is a difference in cost when you hire a general contractor and or a designer.
Sometimes it is necessary to have both and in many cases, an architect and/or engineer is needed.
But if your project doesn’t require all those professionals an experienced Interior Designer with construction, design management experience will be your best investment.
Not only will you have someone to navigate the process with but he/she will have the contacts of trade professionals who they have worked with before and could refer to you. But your designer also has access to Trade Only resources, vendors and manufacturers and this is available to you, though he/or she. In other words, the Interior Designer has valuable relationships that you will benefit from.
In addition, you will also avoid making costly mistakes on product selections, the “build”, and you will have someone to handle the schedules, procurement and installation and the overall management of the project.
The Toughest Question
Last but not least (at least for this post) and probably the most avoided question.
What is your budget?
I know this is difficult to know exactly but at least before you make that first phone call or invite someone over to give you a quote, think about it.
Be realistic, don’t watch HGTV, see and believe that you can renovate your kitchen for $5k all inclusive and make a “Joanna Gaines” transformation. Sure, you can do some cosmetic improvements for $5k. But you probably cannot have all that you listed in step number 1 for that amount.
When trying to calculate labor costs for your own processing – not as a hard number. Is good to put yourself in that trade/professional’s shoes.
Remember there is a value to what a good professional brings to the table. Experience, cleanliness, reliability, reputation, licensed or not their work is key to an amazing end result and without making your experience any more stressful than it needs to be.
More to think about
If you were a professional carpenter, electrician, Interior Designer (kitchen, bath & interiors) with a number of years experience under your belt. You have good references and reviews. You are good at what you do, you deliver on time, you are responsible, clean, ethical and you stand by your work. How much would you charge for…….fill in the blank?
Think of it in terms of what kind of work do you want/expect that particular trade/professional to do? Do you want them to be reliable, ethical and all of the above? I will assume that yes, you do.
Here is a rough rule of thumb. (For this example, let’s take an electrician)
Remember, this will vary based on the state, if they are licensed, bonded and insured, if they are not among others. Some really good tradespeople are not licensed and I understand why that may deter a homeowner from hiring an unlicensed trade. Without advocating for either – some unlicensed professionals I found to be more ethical, reliable EXPERIENCED and clean, more so than some licensed professionals.
Electrician – minimum charge (to come out and check your electrical outlet that is not working) approx. $150 dollars (not your brother-in-law or neighbor who would do it for beer or cookies). It may be more if rewiring or replacing a part is necessary.
Electrician – with a license, workman’s comp, and insurance, then expect to pay more.
FOR THAT KITCHEN REMODEL WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT
If you need to add 6 recessed cans, under cabinet lighting, relocate a couple of switches and outlets. Assuming with no unforeseen issues you are looking at approx. at $1,800. that probably doesn’t include drywall repairs and or top of the line under cabinet lights.
Try this for all the trades you think you need and it will give you a very rough number of what you are looking at just for those items.
OR Hire an interior designer with renovation /construction experience and they will guide you through the process or do it for you.
Then answer this question
Is my kitchen renovation project small, medium or substantial?
HERE IS AN AVERAGE COST
- Small approx. $15k to $20k
- Medium: $30k to $40k
- Substantial: $68k to $105k+
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design”. ~ RALF SPETH
It’s important to remember a renovation project is stressful, there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of decisions to be made, the question “what comes first” will pop up many times.
If you are not an experience DYI-er don’t tackle this process alone.
Stay tuned for the next post on this process.