Remodeling With A Plan
Thinking about a remodeling project
in your home? Then try using
the "back-up" method to organize your planning. What's the back-up
method? It's simple. First, you clearly define the result you
want, then back up from that target to plan your budget, your
schedule, and your selection of a contractor.
This is nothing new. You probably use the back-up method to plan
a party or your vacation. First you set the party date, then back
up to set dates for decorating, shopping, and mailing invitations.
The same thing is true for your vacation. Set the date and budget,
then back up to plan how to set aside the money to pay for it.
Your home remodeling project should work the same way. First,
set the date you want the project completely finished and the
total budget you wish to spend. All of your planning should keep
these goals clearly in mind. These two goals will determine the
products you select, your schedule, and even the selection of
your contractor. Let's explore these three areas of planning.
Both budget and completion targets will affect your product selection.
Let's use a kitchen remodeling project as an example. You may
think that budget considerations are obvious for product selections,
but it's amazing how many people waste a lot of time looking at
products that are not within their budget. You can save time by
carefully considering your budget target. Be sure your expectations
are reasonable, or be prepared to change your expectations.
Some products have a manufacturing or ordering lead time to consider.
Custom cabinetry can take from four to eight weeks from the time
your order is placed. You have to add to that the time it takes
to develop your design and make your product selections. If there
are any mistakes or defects in the products you receive, it is
necessary to figure in some additional time for replacements.
Be sure you keep your completion target in mind and consider the
lead time that your products will require.
Developing your schedule is probably the most difficult task---so
many factors can affect it. In addition to product delivery, consider
the schedules of all the contractors that may be involved. Your
project may include carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters,
just to name a few. Each will need a minimum amount of time to
complete his portion of the project---and the different trades
may be needed at specific times in the sequence of the job. Be
sure you allow extra time in your schedule. For example, if the
plumber is unexpectedly delayed, the new drywall can't be installed
and everything backs up. The bottom line is, don't schedule things
Obviously, your budget will influence the contractors you select.
Be careful not to select the lowest price without considering
the quality of work and their dependability. Just one "no show"
by a contractor can delay your entire project, and careless workmanship
may require repeated visits to correct problems. It is best to
ask for references and check them out. Be sure that all of your
contractors are licensed for the work they will be doing and that
they are fully insured.
Be sure to allow some extra time at the end of your project for
"punch" work. These are all of the little things that may have
escaped notice during the installation: door and drawer alignment,
adjustments, missed caulking, etc. Every project will have some
minor corrections at the end. Expect it and be sure to allow time
for it in your schedule.
Finally, factor in the unexpected. Concealed plumbing or wiring
may require additional work. This in turn will add to the time
and cost of your project. Shipping damage or a tradesman who is
ill or injured will delay your project. Try to anticipate as many
problems as possible and have some contingency plans. Communicate
with your contractors regularly to avoid being surprised by problems.
It's always best to factor in some extra time and anticipate the
possibility of some additional expenses. It is much better to
prepare yourself and be pleasantly surprised than to be unprepared
and terribly disappointed.
In the perfect world, all remodeling projects go exactly as planned.
However, be realistic and plan for the possibility of a few glitches.
Good planning and preparation will prevent you from tearing your
hair out and help you actually enjoy the experience. You can find
additional information on kitchen and bath planning at www.cabinet
Elaine Mikk is owner of Cabinet Discounters, a local kitchen and bath remodeling company, and host of Home Innovations on WMAL AM630 Sunday mornings at 11.