So you’re going to renovate…great! But now what? You have a total figure you can spend on your home renovation, but how are you going to approach the design process so that you get the end result you want and a smooth experience? Jeffrey Douglas of the Douglas Design Studio explained exactly what you need to do when you are planning and undertaking a home renovation.
First, get a list of comparable properties in your community and neighborhood before you start planning your home renovation. This gives you a basis for comparing what you want to do and examining your financial goals. “It’s very important to look at present value vs. potential value,” Douglas says. You don’t want to overdo the renovation, making your house the most expensive in the area because it’s much harder to earn that back at resale time.
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Once you’ve decided on the overall scope of what you want to do in your home makeover, Douglas highlights these key points:
You are part of the process. You can’t hire people and then go away, expecting them to do everything. “You are the CEO of your own project,” he says. You have to know what questions to ask and how to ask them.”
You are building a team. For a home renovation, your team should include all the players, from architect to interior designer to decorator.
You are in charge. Ultimately, it’s your house and your money. Trust your team because they are professionals, but don’t overtrust.
“The bigger the project, the more people you will need,” Douglas explains. He laid out the main members of the home renovation team and what their roles should be:
As the homeowner and client, you set the tone for the project. You lay out your expectations for the projects and the quality of the work. Before hiring anyone, you should start with a wish list and develop a list of key questions you want to have answered.
The architect is the person who “programs your space,” Douglas says. He or she will translate your wish list into reality. According to expert Bob Villa, the cost of the architect is about 10 percent of the total project, while HomeBuilder.com cites the figure at about 15-20 percent of a home renovation project, he explains.
Once the architect has completed the drawings, the contractor is the one who reads them and translates them into the various jobs that need to be done. For this individual – and for you – time is money, so good organization and efficient decision-making in advance is beneficial.
This is the person who imagines how you will live in the space and how you will use it. They will want the most details about your thinking with regard to the project and how you live on a daily basis. Typically, the designer accounts for 12-15% of the interior portion of the home renovation’s cost.
Obviously, the architect must come first in your budgeting process, and the interior designer should be chosen early on as well. In many cases, Douglas points out, there is an overlap of skills among the architect, designer and decorator. Regardless, the builder will appreciate the lists you develop with the architect and designer because he or she can use them as shopping lists. The architect can also give you a price per square foot estimate for your home renovation project, “which gives you peace of mind to know where the ship is headed,” he adds.
Another major piece of advice Douglas gives: Keep 15% of the total project in your back pocket without telling anyone, so that if your home makeover goes over budget, you can handle the extra.
For the designer’s budget, go room by room. Include everything: Floors, walls, ceiling, plumbing, lighting, special fixtures, etc. “This helps guide the process, control the budget and minimize frustration,” he says.
The builder’s budget is a block allowance in you r home renovation. “You do need to have some idea of how much various things cost. It’ll help guide your decisions when you have to cut costs and balance the big decisions,” he adds.
Cost vs. Value
When approaching the home renovation as a whole, always remember the cost vs. the value. “It’s about the desirability factor,” Douglas says. “I believe that when there are well-designed elements, people can imagine themselves living there.”
“There are good/better/best decisions for everything and not everything needs to have a high cost to have a high impact,” he emphasizes.
Lastly, Douglas says to make sure that your home renovation budget doesn’t cut out the sizzle in your project. What good is a renovation if you can’t included a little “wow factor,” right?