Stop & Think Before You Begin Home Renovations! 12 Things To Do!!

Home Renovations? Stop and Think!Renovating a home or property can be extremely rewarding – adding value to both the property and lifestyles while providing a great sense of satisfaction and achievement in the process. However, no matter if you’re undertaking a big or small project – or renovating for profit or love – there are a number of factors you need to consider in your planning before beginning work.

1) The Big Why. Be clear on why you are renovating. Are you renovating to flip or are your intentions more long-term for comfort and better use? There are many reasons to renovate a property. You may want to enhance its livability. You may want to expand it or update it. You may want to fix it up to rent- out or sell.

If renovations are for family or personal reasons, it often involves a more emotional spend; it can be easy to over-capitalize this important investment and it is wise to recognize that it is very easy to get carried away beyond your intended renovation project budget!

On the other hand, the renovation may be a purely financial one because you plan to rent-out or sell the property in future; then it may be wise to plan and budget your renovation project more exclusively from a return-on-investment perspective.”

2) Treat Your Property & the Renovation as an Investment! Consider the valuation of your property – before and after renovation. Determine the value of similar properties in your area to help you decide what improvement projects are reasonable and worthwhile based on the property’s future: for lifestyle, renting or selling. Comparative property values (“Comps”) can help you determine if and when you can get a return on your investment (ROI) within your planning future. Most often, it is not wise to over-capitalize your property if one of your primary goals is to maximize its investment potential.

3) Get a Pre-Renovation Inspection. The pre-renovation inspection of the property is a different service than a pre-purchase inspection. The inspection before you purchase a property should determine the big picture of the house condition; it should focus on determining the exact condition of major systems such as the roof, furnace, plumbing and wiring. It is a must in the purchase of any property — new or old.

The pre-renovation inspection has a scope that is defined more by the homeowner, the renovations planned, and the details of the house. It is an encompassing inspection of all systems related to the renovation and, in the case of property additions, those systems which will be affected post-renovation within the existing property. It requires a set of experienced inspectors from a variety of trades and professions.

4) Expect the Unexpected! One unpleasant aspect of home renovations is that renovating your property to accomplish your desired results almost always leads to repairing or replacing materials and systems which you weren’t planning. Most often, this occurs because hidden problems are found when the work progresses or the property owner decides to change aspects of the project plans after the project has begun.

5) Budget/Budget/Budget – Don’t bite off more than you can chew…budget for the unexpected! Determine with your financial advisers and project manager what projects should be done in the near term and which could be done in phases. Whether you are acting as project manager or have hired a competent project manager to do onsight oversight, build in a 20-30 percent cushion to cover the nasty, unexpected surprises. Never pay a trade in full before the work is done and the work has been inspected by you or your project manager.

6) Don’t Forget Big Brother! Check with the local government entities re: Codes, Permits, etc. Your tradespeople and project manager should provide you with these details. Aside from warning your neighbors about loud noise, there’s most likely a zoning commission, town clerk or council which needs to know that you are altering your property. In addition, there may be interim systems inspections of the work at stages of completion; until these inspections are completed and the work approved by the inspector, work on the systems in questions cannot proceed. Check the rules and regulations in your city, council or area to make sure you comply! Schedule the inspections and the projected wait times between work completion and inspections into your timeline. The last thing you want is to have to undo the work you have paid for because a tradesperson proceeded with work which had not been approved before a scheduled interim system inspection!

7) Buyer Beware! Determine what you need for the project and compare based on five factors: the best choices, value, quality and durability at the best price! Your contractor may have vendor relationships, but often comparison shopping will offer a better choice of the five factors. You may get the best buys from a variety of vendors – from local vendors and online. On a project-by-project, room-by-room basis, work with your project manager to determine and buy for the five factors for all materials and fixtures. Before making any purchases for the materials you have chosen, check with your project manager on obtaining discounts from relationships the trades have with vendors.

8) Don’t Take Your Eyes Off the Project! You or your project manager need to be onsight and overseeing each and every phase of the project on each and every day when tradespeople are working on your property’s renovation project. Do Not Trust the Builder or General Contractor to be your Eyes and Ears! Their relationship to the project is to minimize timelines (often at the expense of quality) and to provide working opportunities for their team of tradespeople (without necessarily vetting them for their expertise for a given type of installation included in your plans or for the quality of materials they would use).

A project manager (PM) will protect your current and ongoing property investment by ensuring that your project’s budget, timeline, quality materials, installation and workmanship are managed to the highest degree possible. It is the PM’s responsibility to vet, oversee and supervise the contractors and subcontractors to make sure the property is being renovated both to your project specifications and to local building codes. The PM is your property watchdog!

9) Who’s Making the Decisions? To assure quality materials and installation throughout your project, it is vital that day-to-day project decisions are not left to the builder(s) or General Contractor(s). Day-to-day decisions should be made by you or your project manager – to prevent as many errors as possible and especially when mistakes have been made, problems occur, material deliveries are late or material substitutions are required.

10) For Residential Renovations, Where and How will you Live? If the renovation project is only short term, minor or cosmetic, you may be able to live in the property during the renovation process. However, it is important to take into account the needs and safety of all family members – including pets. You need to plan for: unsafe areas; anxious pets; noise; neighbor complaints; intermittent electric, plumbing, heating & cooling, etc; dust, dust and more dust; toxic smells; people coming in and out at all hours; a complete lack of privacy.

For bigger, structural renovations, considering the real disruptions to your space such a renovation will require, you may need to move out for a few weeks, a few months or even longer! Will you stay with friends or family, or rent another place?

11) Timing is Everything! – It is extremely important for you or your Project Manager to keep timelines for all aspects of the project – packing and storage; demolition; trash removal; plumbing, electrical, carpentry; tilers; painters; etc. By the nature of the work, renovation project timelines are ever-evolving due to delays of any kind such as unavailable materials or unavailable tradespeople who were scheduled and/or those unanticipated surprise problems. Any delay creates a domino effect which effects all of the trades and the timelines; and these delays often increase costs, especially if they are not handled at the time of discovery. Remember: The work of each trade must be coordinated with all the other trades…A change in one timeline effects all timelines.

You, or your Project Manager, should have regular, day-to-day, “pulse meetings” to keep all of the trades in sync with the timelines as they evolve every day.

12) Prepare Your Family! points out: “’A home-remodeling project can strain even the most stable relationship,’ said the counselor. ‘Colleen and John had a solid marriage, but the renovations left their house and their lives in a state of perpetual disorder and anxiety, which they used against each other.’”

An analogy: stresses, “Renovating a home with a significant other is one of the ultimate tests of relationship endurance. It’s like having a baby, only if every detail of that baby were customized by you and your partner — eye and hair color, haircut style, eyebrow texture, cuticle length, frequency of spit-ups, etc. OK, so maybe remodeling a house together is the ultimate test.”

Working with a trusted Project Manager like PPR can assist you in achieving your property renovation’s objectives without experiencing many of the pitfalls. During the renovation, your property management Watchdog can provide you and your family peace-of-mind while permitting you to live a reasonably normal life!

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