Remodeling contractors are much different than new home builders in that they are always going into a project that was first created by someone else. Weather it is a 5 year-old home that needs a bathroom remodel or a 100 year-old Victorian-era home that requires a complete refurbishing this breed of contractor has to be prepared for the challenges of fitting something new into something old.
The Old and the New
A new home contractor breaks ground with a fresh set of plans, new materials and the building codes of that area as set out in that period of time. So, if he's building a home in 1978 he or she is using the knowledge and materials of that era to build the home. If you fast-forward thirty or so years there are new rules for all the trades and any renovations have to follow these directions. For example, the 1970's home may be wired with aluminum conduit and the new codes may be explicit about the use of copper. The renovator has to either re-wire the home or install a bridging between the aluminum and the copper that will meet the codes. This adds to the time factor that also adds to the cost of the project.
The Remodeling Process
The thought behind renovating comes from a need to want something new in the old. The reasons for this change may be comfort, looks or financial gain. Whatever the reason the homeowner has to start with a plan before even contacting a renovator.
Since the remodeling contractor must change old into new there must be some demolition. This is unavoidable because to put in a new kitchen the old one must be torn out. This means that unless there are two kitchens in the home the family is going to be without a kitchen for sometime. This is where planning comes in.
- What Do You Want? The reasoning behind wanting a renovation should be worked out first. Some people want a renovation because they saw a new European design in a catalog and they just have to build it in their homes. Others renovate because the home is getting too small and they need the extra room. Whatever the reason, get the exact details of what you want down on paper.
- Draw what You Want: The computer industry found out long ago that people preferred the What You See Is What You Get approach rather than letter, numbers and codes. Measure the area and draw the project on graph paper. If you are good on the computer then home design programs are not that expensive and can expand your horizons by providing the right color cabinets, shower enclosures or outdoor patios and seeing the areas from several viewpoints. But even a nicely-drawn rendering on graph paper can help you put the plan together.
- What Can You Afford? One constant in the renovating process is that everything will cost more than you think it does. So, if you pour through magazines and find kitchen cabinets, countertop, sink and flooring that would cost around $10,000 don't think that taking the old kitchen out and putting the new appointments in would be just $2,000 more. There are many other considerations like plumbing, electrical, de-construction costs and waste bin rental as well as unforeseen problems that can crop up like uneven floors and walls. For an interior remodel in an older home there could be old wiring that has to be replaced and hazards like asbestos that has to be removed.
A good investment is having the home inspected first. Show the inspector your plan and he or she can tell you what to expect as far as obstacles go or new codes that will have to be met. The inspector can also give you a ball park cost of doing the project.
- Finances: Once you get a rough estimate of what the job will cost you can begin to get your financing in order. Even if you have the money on hand to do the job it's best to sharpen you pencil and try to cut it down 15-20% because of cost overruns that may be beyond your contractor's control. If you are borrowing the money there's a good chance that your bank manager will give you the same advice.
- A Level Playing Field: In any business dealing a person who competes for a sale wouldn't mind being on the inside track but at least just want a chance to compete in a fair bidding process. A detailed rendering will help the estimators come to a fair price for the project as they see it. Have every detail written out and a good, polished diagram to show them. This could be a computer-generated diagram or just a well-drawn plan. If the project is a room addition or large renovation project it will be best to consult a professional designer to do up a diagram.
For more information on a good renovating contractor consult out Contractor Directory or post a project on our webpage.Posted by: TrustedPros