How to Avoid Renovation Mistakes: Part 4


How to Avoid Renovation Mistakes: Part 3

Now that you are working with an architect, you have realistic expectations and know what your priorities are. That leads us to the third most common mistake: unintended consequences. What does that mean? I think this example will make it clear.

We had a homeowner that came to us after they added a two story space to their house. They had room available in their yard and added on to their house, but their problem was that they couldn’t figure out how to get to their new addition from their current home! They had never planned for how the new space would integrate into their existing home. Now, they would have to redo much of what they’d just done, in order to make things work, spending more time and money to accomplish what they could have done in the first place with just a little professional help.

Another example of unintended consequences is having several projects you want to accomplish without the funds to achieve them all at once. Many people may want to renovate their kitchen but have future plans to add on a family room, master bedroom suite, or finish their basement. So, why not just do the kitchen and worry about the other projects later?

Because, a lack of planning for the future today can lead to a problem tomorrow. I have had clients who are looking to expand their main level to create a new great room space, but they just renovated their kitchen the year before and unfortunately, the best place for the expansion would require them to take out many of the brand new cabinets they had just put in the year before. Frustrating. It costs enough to do renovation projects once, so it can be discouraging to have to pay for it again just because of poor planning.

The key to avoiding unintended consequences is designing with the end in mind. Work with your architect to define your immediate, mid-range, and long term goals for your home. Then have your architect develop a master plan with each project phased in such a way to minimize the amount of rework that will be required. This way each phase of the project can be completed and enjoyed without tearing everything apart when you want to tackle the next phase. Design with the end in mind.

Keep checking our blog for the next and final installment in this series where we discuss our fourth pitfall of hiring an unqualified contractor.

Avoid Renovation Mistakes: Part 3

Now that you are working with an architect, help you have realistic expectations and know what sphere within you are willing to compromise. That leads us to the third most common mistake: unintended consequences. What does that mean? I think this example will make it clear.

We had a homeowner that came to us after they added a two story space to their house. They had room available in their yard and added on to their house, but their problem was that they couldn’t figure out how to get to their new addition! They built a two story addition to a room they had no way of accessing. Now, they would have to redo what they’d just done, spending more time and money to accomplish what they could have done in the first place with just a little professional help.

Another example of unintended consequences is having several projects you want to accomplish without the funds to achieve them all at once. Many people may want to renovate their kitchen but have future plans to add on a family room, master bedroom suite, or finish their basement. So, why not just do the kitchen and worry about the other projects later?

Because, a lack of planning for the future today can lead to a problem tomorrow. I have had clients who are looking to expand their main level to create a new great room space, but they just renovated their kitchen the year before and unfortunately, the best place for the expansion would require them to take out many of the brand new cabinets they had just put in the year before. Frustrating. It costs enough to do renovation projects once, so it can be discouraging to have to pay for it again just because of poor planning.

The key to avoiding unintended consequences is designing with the end in mind. Work with your architect to define your immediate, mid-range, and long term goals for your home. Then have your architect develop a master plan with each project phased in such a way to minimize the amount of rework that will be required. This way each phase of the project can be completed and enjoyed without tearing everything apart when you want to tackle the next phase. Design with the end in mind.

Keep checking our blog for the next and final installment in this series where we discuss our fourth pitfall of hiring an unqualified contractor.

Avoid Renovation Mistakes: Part 3

Now that you are working with an architect, and you have realistic expectations and know what sphere within you are willing to compromise. That leads us to the third most common mistake: unintended consequences. What does that mean? I think this example will make it clear.

We had a homeowner that came to us after they added a two story space to their house. They had room available in their yard and added on to their house, cialis but their problem was that they couldn’t figure out how to get to their new addition! They built a two story addition to a room they had no way of accessing. Now, illness they would have to redo what they’d just done, spending more time and money to accomplish what they could have done in the first place with just a little professional help.

Another example of unintended consequences is having several projects you want to accomplish without the funds to achieve them all at once. Many people may want to renovate their kitchen but have future plans to add on a family room, master bedroom suite, or finish their basement. So, why not just do the kitchen and worry about the other projects later?

Because, a lack of planning for the future today can lead to a problem tomorrow. I have had clients who are looking to expand their main level to create a new great room space, but they just renovated their kitchen the year before and unfortunately, the best place for the expansion would require them to take out many of the brand new cabinets they had just put in the year before. Frustrating. It costs enough to do renovation projects once, so it can be discouraging to have to pay for it again just because of poor planning.

The key to avoiding unintended consequences is designing with the end in mind. Work with your architect to define your immediate, mid-range, and long term goals for your home. Then have your architect develop a master plan with each project phased in such a way to minimize the amount of rework that will be required. This way each phase of the project can be completed and enjoyed without tearing everything apart when you want to tackle the next phase. Design with the end in mind.

Keep checking our blog for the next and final installment in this series where we discuss our fourth pitfall of hiring an unqualified contractor.

How to Avoid Renovation Mistakes: Part 4

The final pitfall that many people not only walk into, doctor but dive into head first, is choosing an unqualified contractor. Like an architect, choosing the right contractor is the key to a successful renovation project. How many of you have heard horror stories that have kept you from pulling the trigger on your project? How many times have you heard of a homeowner that had to hire a second contractor to fix the first contractor’s mistakes? We’ve had clients whose contractors have gone away for weeks at a time and then come back to tell the homeowners that they don’t have enough money to finish the job and could they get a loan?

Please, please, please, don’t ever loan a contractor money to finish your job. You may even hear some sob story that one of their other clients hasn’t paid and they used the money from your job to pay some other expenses. First of all, that is illegal. It is illegal for a contractor to use funds from one job to pay the expenses of another job. So don’t buy into it. And if they are willing to do that, what else are they willing to do?

You don’t have to be afraid. While there may be many unscrupulous contractors, in our market, their numbers are dwindling, leaving well qualified, competent, and trust-worthy contractors best suited for your project needs.

So how do you find one? The first criteria is that he is licensed and insured. In this market there is no reason to hire a contractor who isn’t.

There are plenty of resources at your fingertips to check up on a contractor…
• Check with the BBB and ask if the contractor has had any complaints filed against them.
• See if they’re a member of the local builder association. Not all qualified contractors are members, but most members are qualified.
• Call the Minnesota Department of Commerce at 651-296-2488, or 1-800-657-3602. They can verify if the contractor has a license and if there are any actions or sanctions on their record.
• Ask for references from some of their clients who have completed your type of project. Realize that the contractor is only going to give you the names of people who where happy with his work, but you can still gain some insightful information if you ask the right questions. Call the home owners and ask these questions:

1. What type of project did they complete with this contractor and what was their budget?
2. How happy have they been with the quality of the work?
3. Did the contractor complete the project in a timely manner?
4. Did the contractor complete the project within his estimates?
5. Were there change orders that you thought should have been included in the original estimate?
6. Did the contractor keep the work site clean and secure each day?
7. Were the sub contractors timely, polite, and competent?

For more instruction, download and use our Contractor Selection Guide to help you in this process.

Secondly, find a contractor who is experienced in your type of project and working within your budget. You don’t want to get a great kitchen remodeling contractor to add a second level addition to your home. You also don’t want to have a one who builds beautiful million dollar homes complete your basement finish, either, unless you want a million dollar basement. You need to find a contractor that has experience with your type of project and whose average project size coincides with your budget.

If you’ve gone to the effort of working with an architect to design your home, it is best to work with a contractor who has experience building projects that have been designed by architects. You want to make sure that the contractor can actually build what you and your architect have designed.

Now, if you mention you’ve worked through your design with an architect and the builder starts to grumble, that grumbling may not be totally unwarranted. Many architects have created a bad name within the contractor community because they design things that structurally can’t be built or become so detailed in their specifications that they end up telling contractors how many nails to use in a piece of plywood, a little overkill. But, there are architects who have experience building homes and know that what they’ve designed will actually work.

It is our belief that as your architect we also become your advocate during the building process. We had one client who selected a very reputable builder who received a change order for operable windows. The owner called confused, as was I. So, I called the builder and asked if he based his bid on the drawings. He said he had. Well, the windows were all called out on the drawings with model numbers and they were all operable. As part of the owner/contractor agreement, the builder acknowledged that his bid was based on the drawings and specifications. This required him to include operable windows in the quoted price. Needless to say, the builder would have preferred convincing the owner that it was a justifiable change order that required an additional charge. He didn’t and wasn’t happy, however, the owner was.

Ultimately, our goal is to help our clients put together a team of professionals that will make their project a success. A successful design with successful construction leads to a satisfied homeowner.

To recap, the most common mistakes people make and how to avoid them:

1. Under achieving renovations – Work with a qualified architect.
2. Unrealistic expectations – Create a realistic construction budget and determine what sphere you are willing to compromise.
3. Unexpected Consequences – Develop a master plan with phased projects.
4. Unqualified contractor – Interview, research, and match your contractor to your project needs.

If you take these four principles and implement them, not only will you complete a renovation that improves your quality of life, you can save literally thousands of wasted construction dollars and walk pretty flawlessly through a process that will make your dreams for home come true.

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