More and more I hear people make statements like, “This remodel will cost more than I can afford right now- I’ll have to wait until next year.” Sometimes this means a client wasn’t fully aware of the expenses involved with renovations. Other times a client’s eyes are bigger than their wallet. Most of the time I find that this statement is said because the scope of a project was not properly assessed. I liken it to trying to unload a car full of groceries; most people overload their arms and then have trouble opening the door or dropping items all along the way- taking as few trips as possible. The same final goal can be achieved by taking more trips with smaller loads. Maybe it adds another 2-3 minutes onto your unloading time, and takes a little more effort, but it saves stress and you still end up with a refrigerator full of food.
Remodeling is the same way. Some projects (such as moving walls) are better to complete everything at one time. More often I find projects are easily done in pieces over a period of time. It makes the home more livable since the home is normally not entirely in disrepair for months and spreads out the financial burden for the client. Meet James and Brenda- a recently retired couple who hasn’t updated their kitchen since buying their home over 25 years ago. The overall scope of their project includes new floors, cabinets, counter tops, lighting, window-coverings, paint, and appliances as well as building a wet bar with a pass-through to their dining room. Their original construction estimate was for $28,000 and a schedule taking 45 days to complete.
Initially James and Brenda decided it might be better to just scrap the project, but were willing to reconsider once I revised the initial proposal. My new proposal included a series of mini-projects within the overall project. This included a schedule that extended the project over nearly an entire year, but left less than 8 days total down-time where the kitchen would be inaccessible. While this added another $2,700 to the project total this meant that James and Brenda would be able to stagger payments with the progression of the project, not having to take out a bank loan with interest, as well as be able to live in their home for the entire length of the renovation. These “steps” allow them to be in control of the overall project and “pause” or stop the project as needed and still have a functioning kitchen.
But how does this help you? The lesson to be learned here is planning. Initially a project needs to be completely thought through. Think big. Ask yourself, what look or function am I trying to achieve for this space within the next 5 years? From there take time to assess needs versus wants. I usually break it down to 3 categories- a “wish,” “to-do,” and “need” list. James and Brenda WISHED to have the wet bar, pass through, and new flooring- none of which were a must. They NEEDED to replace their old appliances, worn window-coverings, and broken cabinetry. The new counters would be necessary for new cabinets, and the outdated paint and lighting would be an easy addition to the project to complete the new look. Our initial planning helped in mapping out clear “stopping points” for the project with minimal tear-out of new work while addressing the “need” priority of each item within our time line.
James and Brenda are fully enjoying retirement in their newly remodeled kitchen with plans to add a wet bar and a pass-through in the next month. I’d love to help you sort through your project plans and turn dreams into achievable goals. So what is your next big project?