Overcoming Common Challenges in a Whole House Remodel
Home Remodeling Survival Tips
As a homeowner, remodeling your home can be an exciting project. But, any project comes with the risk of delays. To prepare yourself for the potential, the five most common challenges homeowners face during a whole house remodel are below.
Underestimating the Budget Cost
Every good project comes with a budget estimate, which is an attempt to control costs. However, because contractors want your business, they will feel pressured to get an estimate to you quickly. Are you getting a good price or an incomplete estimate? Remodeling projects have many parts and are a collaboration of many different trades. Take the time to review an estimate given to you to ensure all aspects are included and that you are getting good quality products. Have a conversation with your contractor so that you fully understand the scope of work and that what is included in their estimate matches your expectations.
How can a homeowner ensure that their remodeling project stays within budget?
Here are some tips to get a better handle on your remodeling costs:
- Budget an additional 10-20% over the estimated cost
- Be prepared for some compromises (like design changes)
- Have a clear and open line of communication
- Plan every detail of what you need to do (and know your contractor’s plan)
- Be aware of all aspects of your home (have blueprints available if possible)
- Make sure the contractor submits change orders that you must sign and approve before work or charges occur.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about what unforeseen charges could occur before the project begins.
It’s nearly impossible to be 100% accurate. But the more time you take to consider these tips, the more you can save.
Miscommunications Between You and the Contractor
With any residential construction project, miscommunications can happen. The contractor could’ve misheard you or misinterpreted your request. Given how expensive house remodeling projects can be, it’s vital to maintain good communication.
What are some tips for communication and collaboration with the remodeling team to ensure a successful project outcome?
Here are some tips you can use to avoid miscommunications:
- Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat themselves (especially with important points)
- Be specific and direct when communicating with your contractor or staff.
- Allow the contractor, staff, and trades to do their work without frequent interruptions.
- Clarify and confirm all the project details in writing (including timelines, design and selection decisions, payment schedules, and budget details)
- Use a construction management program with a message board so that information is sent to all appropriate parties involved at the same time.
- If multiple people (husband, wife, parent, etc.) are involved in the decision-making, appoint one person as the spokesperson for the project.
One thing that halts parts of the remodeling process is waiting for materials. If possible, order all materials before the project begins so that when it is time for construction to begin, the materials are there and ready. If there is a product with extended lead times, try to be flexible with the material to avoid delays (if you can). Contractors know design so that they can find something as sturdy and beautiful as the original material.
A contractor works with a group of employees, subcontractors, or a combination of both. Even a seasoned group gets busy or shorthanded sometimes, causing snags in the project. To avoid these delays, discuss if your contractor has a backup option if a subcontractor/employee isn’t available, is behind schedule, or is ill. Contractors should have backup plans for when these things occur, like multiple vendors for specific trades, skilled temporary employment agencies to fill positions as needed if a shortage arises, or teamed up with vendors that have the workforce to get the job done no matter the issue.
What issues could arise during a house remodel, and how can they be addressed?
Many other issues can lead to delays in a whole house remodel. Here are some additional potential problems:
- Hidden damage or nonconformity – Renovations can expose damaged components or components that are not building, energy, or safety code compliant and will need to be addressed.
- Plumbing issues – A broken pipe leads to water damage. Pipes can leak for years without detection in some cases.
- Dangerous materials (in older homes) – Older homes rely on materials like asbestos (and other unsafe building practices) that must be addressed to ensure your safety.
- Electrical problems – Old electrical wiring isn’t built to handle some modern tech and (in some cases) can be incredibly unsafe.
- Bad renovations (from former contractors) – Other contractors can get lazy, leading to shoddy work. Over generations, this work can be “painted over” and forgotten, leading to more problems.
The extra 10-20% added to your budget will handle most of these issues.
How To Make Your Home Still Livable
Because most families can’t relocate during a remodel, they need to live with the construction. Here are some tips to help you survive the renovation process:
- Set up a “temp space” for your old room. Create a temporary space for your needs as the remodel is getting done.
- Make this an excuse to leave home and spend more time outside (to avoid the noise).
- Stay mentally strong by noting significant milestones and getting excited about the upcoming project completion date.
- Ask about your contractor’s cleaning and containment procedures (ideally, they should have HEPA vacuums, air filters, and protective equipment to protect other rooms).
- Prioritize the safety of your vulnerable family members (kids and pets).
- If you only have one bathroom (or limited bathrooms), talk to your contractors about options. Your contractor should never leave the job without leaving you at least one functioning toilet and sink daily.
A home remodel can be an exciting time in a family’s life. But living with that remodel for several months, especially if delays occur, can be frustrating. To avoid these frustrations, follow the tips throughout this article.
Contact our team at TQC to meet with a contractor willing to work with you. If you want your next remodeling project to work for you, our team can help you.