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GHBA Remodelers Council: Start planning your home improvement project

GHBA Remodelers Council: Start planning your home improvement project
Written by Kevin Vick, Vick Construction  Published  Houston Chronicle  December 11, 2015

As you plan for the holidays, you might also want to start planning for the home improvement projects for the New Year.   Whether you are interested in a complete home renovation, a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or an improved outdoor living space, it’s never too early to start planning. As you prepare for celebrating the holidays with your family and friends, you can also imagine what your home might be like next year at this time. 

The first step in creating your plan is to decide what you want.  At this point, you don’t need to be specific – just make a wish list of those elements that you would like to have as part of your remodeled home.  If you find that you have created a very long list, you will need to prioritize your wish list.  Although this may not seem like an important part of your remodel, it can and will help you and your remodeler to design and ultimately build the home of your dreams.

Before starting your home improvement project a good plan needs to be in place. This is where your wish list comes in.  You will use this list to create an outline describing what is included in the project.

Although there are many elements to consider in planning for your project, there are two basic considerations – function, and the look or aesthetics of your future home.  It may be that your kitchen or bathroom is very functional, but you want a new or updated look.  On the other hand, it may be that you need to re-design certain rooms or even the layout of your home itself.  You may need and want an open floor plan, or perhaps you need to create a private corner of your home for relaxing at the end of a busy day. 

As you build your list, remember that it doesn’t need to be a finite laundry list of items to include in your new home.  Your list can include ideas and concepts as well as specific items.  Part of your preparation should also include your budget or at least a preliminary budget. 

Now that you have your lists and ideas, you will be ready to meet with a professional designer and remodeler.  Although you can start with either, many remodelers have designers on staff or can recommend a designer that you will be comfortable with.  Your remodeler will use your list to create an outline of your project.

Building professionals refer to the detailed outline as the Scope of Work. It serves as a written plan of how the remodeled portion of your hone will look and function. There are numerous benefits to creating an outline.

One benefit to the home owner is that it levels the playing field for the contractors and allows them to produce estimates based on identical elements of the project. The benefit to you is that you will obtain an apples-to-apples comparison of the contractors you are interviewing. Without this outline, you will get estimates based on each of the contractor’s interpretations, ideas, and experiences.  This will lead to higher costs during the construction of the project due to omissions, assumptions and interpretations by each of the contractors being interviewed.  

Another important benefit for you writing a project outline is it will give you the opportunity to think through the project from start to finish. Some examples of important questions that you will answer during the process are: Do I want to reface my cabinets or get new cabinets? What color granite counter tops do I want? This will better equip you to come up with a budget for your project and control costs.