Though it’s by no means a “fixer upper,” there are probably some things you’ll want to upgrade in your new home. Simple jobs, such as installing new switch plates or kitchen cabinet knobs you’ll probably just do yourself. However, projects that fall toward the renovation end of the spectrum might be more than you want to be saddled with.
Even if your project has reached a standstill, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than 30% of jobs home remodelers eventually tackle come from failed DIY projects. More often than not, it’s because the goals for the project were vague to begin with and got even more muddled once it was underway. So how do you get your project back on track? Unless you’re exceptionally handy, you’ll need the help of professionals—especially if your project has significant safety or financial implications. Here are a few tips on how to proceed.
Understand the Scope of Your Project
If you don’t have a firm grasp of what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect your contractors to. Some things you need to think about are how you envision the end result, what you’re willing to spend, the level of quality you’re looking for and a general timeframe for when you’d like the work completed.
Focus on what really matters. Think big picture and try not to get distracted by small details—and impulse purchases—that can put your project in the weeds.
Determine Your Maximum Budget
Decide in advance how much you can afford—or want—to spend on your project. Many experts recommend setting a maximum amount, and then cutting that number in half. That’s your project’s budget, complete with its own built-in buffer. This buffer will help ensure you stay on track—as there will almost certainly be surprise expenses. Better to overestimate than be forced to put your project on hold.
Check Building Codes and Permits
Even if you’re not doing the work yourself, make sure any renovation jobs you’re considering comply with local regulations. Here’s a tip: Permits and inspections are required for anything that involves plumbing, wiring, natural gas, and structural changes such as taking out a wall.
While you’re at it, also check whether you qualify for any renovation-related perks. For example, if you make qualified energy-efficient improvements to your home, you may qualify for an energy efficient home improvement tax credit of up to $3,200.
Get the Right Team
Once these basic guidelines are established, it’s time to put together a team capable of delivering what you need, when you want it. Hiring trustworthy professionals is key to the success of any larger project. Look for licensed and insured contractors. Check online reviews from sites like Houzz and Angi – and ask your neighbors or friends who’ve worked with a contractor on a similar project. Also, check out our tips for hiring – and keeping – the right contractors.
Inspect the work regularly but avoid the temptation to micromanage. Check in with the contractors regularly and make sure they have access to everything they need. That said, if something looks wrong, ask for clarification right away. After all, it’s much easier to deal with issues during the project versus after it’s done. Hold off on final payment until you’ve conducted a final walkthrough and are fully satisfied.
Once the work is complete, get copies of all permits, warranties, instruction manuals and any other paperwork related to the work.
Expect Some Unforeseen Delays
Much like the budget, your project deadline should have a built-in buffer, too. Set a timeframe that allows for variables like bad weather, shipping delays, or issues with materials or labor. Also plan a few days when you can be home to make decisions, answer questions, and ensure the project is progressing. When all is said and done, you’ll feel less stressed – and so will the people you hired.