Written plan is imperative before starting any improvement project

An article written by Kevin Vick that appeared in the Houston Chronicle on June 19th, 2014.

Before starting any home improvement project, a good plan needs to be in place. I am not talking about the architect’s drawings, but an outline describing what is included in the project. When remodeling a kitchen, there are so many things to consider. A written plan is imperative for any homeowner before embarking on such a project.

Let’s say Suzy Smith lives in a home that was built in 1988, and she wants to update her kitchen. The kitchen is still functional, but is tired, dated, and inefficient due to its layout and non-Energy Star-rated appliances. She has collected some great photos and ideas from various websites and home magazines, but she is overwhelmed with the thought of where to begin. That brings up the biggest questions of all – what needs to be done, and how much is it all going to cost?

Well, the logical place to begin is with a designer’s drawings, but this may not be in her budget. If this is the case, then an outline of the project from start to finish is a great beginning. Building professionals refer to the detailed outline as the “scope of work,” and it serves as a written plan of how the new kitchen will look and function. She is going to write out a much simpler version of this, but it will serve as an organizational and communication tool.

There are numerous benefits to creating an outline, and I would dare to say it is the single-most important element in any home improvement or construction project – other than construction drawings, of course.

One benefit to the homeowner is it levels the playing field for the contractors and allows them to produce estimates based on identical elements of the project. The benefit to the homeowner is she will obtain an apples-to-apples comparison of the contractors she is interviewing. Without her outline, she 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. And for the homeowner, this will lead to a higher frustration factor and missed savings opportunities.

Another important benefit for Suzy writing a project outline is it will give her the opportunity to think through the project from start to finish. Some examples of important questions she 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 her to come up with a budget for her project and control costs.