Guest Column by Robin Siegerman
We’ve all heard the horror stories of home remodeling…you know the ones: “…took three times longer than we thought” “… cost twice as much as we budgeted” and “…was so frustrating I thought my husband would bust a gasket!”
Surprising to most homeowners is the fact that the business of renovation is actually more an art than it is a science, which is why detailed planning is so critical to the whole process and could save you thousands of dollars, months of time and a boat-load of aggravation.
The three most important things to have nailed down before you start are:
1. The budget
2. Working drawings
3. A written scope of work and specifications
Although most people at least have a vague budget figure in mind before they start the remodeling process, very often, when they start interviewing kitchen companies, designers or contractors, they keep their budget thoughts to themselves and instead ask for a price from a few different sources. The hope is they can hire the lowest bidder and get what they want for less than the budget amount they’re prepared to spend. Ironically, this can cost many thousands more in the long run and cause the job to go on for what may seem like forever.
There is no situation where a design professional or contractor can give you an accurate quote without working drawings and written scope of work and specifications. These documents are the road map that will tell everyone on the job exactly what labor and products must be provided and by whom. To prepare these drawings and this detailed list, you must tell the design professional what you have to spend so they will keep this in mind when designing. There is nothing more disappointing for both a designer and a homeowner than when the homeowner falls in love with the design, only to find out when the contractor prices it, that it’s beyond the budget.
If you invite three contractors to your home before the drawings and documentation have been prepared and ask them for an estimate, then compare those prices and hire on that basis, you are playing a dangerous gambling game with your money where the deck is stacked against you.
A contractor who doesn’t have the “road map” or drawings and specifications when he’s preparing a price, has to guess at much of what you want. He’ll make assumptions based on previous experience and come up with a “ball-park estimate”. But it’s highly likely that many of his assumptions are not what you actually want, so the price is going to go through a dramatic change when you start getting specific about the materials that you have in mind. This process of estimating and then going back to make revisions takes time and once on the job, without plans, no one really knows where anything is going, so the work itself takes much longer than it needs to.
For this reason, if everything has been designed and specified before you ever have a contractor in to give you a price, once the job gets going there will be fewer nasty financial surprises and fewer months of living in chaos and drywall dust.
To get a general idea of what you need to spend to do a full kitchen remodel, in the course of my speaking engagements to design professionals across North America about my book, Renovation Bootcamp®: Kitchen, there is near unanimous agreement that if you figure on spending about 10% of the worth of your house on your kitchen remodel, your planning will be reasonably proportionate relative to your home’s market value. Of course, you can spend much more than this and less too, but then it mostly comes down to the quality of the materials you pick and whether you want to do a major overhaul or just a facelift.
In either case, having a design pro to guide you through the process will save you money, time and stress in the end.
Robin Siegerman is an international award-winning designer, 20-year veteran of the home-design and renovation business and the author of the Amazon Best-Seller, Renovation Bootcamp®: Kitchen – Design and Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Wallet, Your Mind or Your Spouse. www.RenovationBootcamp.com
Healthy family meals on the table in 30 minutes or less!Try The Scramble Meal Planner for Free