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Tips For Stress-Free Remodeling

Keep the stress out of remodeling by employing good planning and the right team.

Most of us dream of changing something about our home, whether it be a major transformation or just a small project. When the time is right to dive in, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and make sure the process comes off as stress-free as possible. Save yourself some headaches and mishaps by adhering to these tried-and-true remodeling tips.

Set the Budget

While it’s easier said than done, begin by setting up a realistic budget and trying to stick with it. According to remodelingcalculator.com, the national average remodeling costs are $17,625 for a kitchen remodel, $11,362 for a bathroom remodel and $61,120 for an addition. Get a quote from at least one contractor and consider adding another 10 to 20 percent above the quoted cost for the unexpected, which can range from electrical rewiring that’s been inexplicably chewed up by some rodent, to wood rot and mold. Give yourself that extra cushion in your budget.

Hire a Good Designer

When working with your designer, be mindful of your priorities; the nice-to-have, versus the must-have items. Yes, you may dream big, but be prepared to be realistic and flexible with your design. Whether you choose an architect or a home designer, a good one will help you decide what is reasonable within your budget.

Also, a good designer usually knows all the city and county codes by heart, which is extremely important with issues like height limits, or how many extra bathrooms you can add onto a house. Many cities change codes frequently, so what may be allowed one year, could completely change the next. An experienced designer will also know what the neighborhood homeowner’s association will allow in your particular area. He or she can also help you choose and order fixtures and finishes well in advance of when they will be needed, avoiding delays down the line.

Find the Right Contractor

It might sound obvious: get the best contractor in your area for remodeling. But this important step takes some leg work. Find a contractor with years of experience, who’s licensed and bonded and has a good portfolio, and who is happy to give you references from their past, and recent, clients. Do call the references—all of them.

Your contractor will be responsible for getting your building permits, which will be displayed on the front of the house. He or she should provide you with a program of works, or schedule, so you know what to expect throughout the remodeling project, such as when electrical power may be turned off in the house or when water will be shut down. This schedule should also include the deadline date of when it is projected to be completed (though remodels are notorious for going over time).

Always keep the lines of communication open with your contractor. For the next few months, you will see each other almost daily, and if something is not done correctly, it will be your contractor who needs to make it right with his sub-contractors. If your contractor signs off on work not done well, you will have no recourse with the sub-contractor. All the more reason to make sure you trust your contractor and to touch base with him or her often.

Timing is Everything

In Central Oregon, late spring and summer are your best seasons for remodeling. With a steady stream of workers coming in and out of the house, a winter remodel may mean a lot of snow being tracked in, along with heat leaving the house with doors open. However, do keep in mind that in our area, spring and summer are the most popular time to remodel, so finding a contractor who can fit you into their schedule may be difficult. The key is to give yourself plenty of time to plan for and execute the remodel. If you’re lucky, schedule a vacation so that you are away during some of the work.

Be Flexible

Even when you have done all the planning you can, always expect the unexpected and delayed deadlines. Products ordered well in advance may come in damaged and need to be reordered. Weather, illness and all of the other challenges that life presents may rear their heads. Being flexible means you may have to compromise, especially if your budget is being stretched.

Be a Thoughtful Neighbor

Unless you live on acres in the middle of nowhere, your remodel will affect other people. When you make plans for demolition, make sure your workers aren’t jack hammering at the crack of dawn. Odds are, big trucks will be in front of your home from time to time, so let your neighbors know what’s going on, and what your tentative date for completion may be.

At the end of the day, there probably is no such thing as a stress-free remodeling project. But there are ways to mitigate some of the problems up front, and keep perspective when challenges arise. Remember, even when a project looks like it’s going sideways, know that the finished product will make you a happy homeowner in the end.

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