By Rick Goldstein, a registered architect and co-owner of MOSAIC Group [Architects and Remodelers]
If you’re considering remodeling your house, there are two crucial stages you need to understand: planning the project and selecting the company to do the work. Thinking both of them through will help ensure you minimize the issues to be addressed during the remodeling process and maximize the creative solutions available to you.
The planning phase occurs first. Analyze your current and future needs. Determine what you don’t like about your current house. Don’t try to solve problems, but identify the first.
Do you desire a larger kitchen for entertaining? Do you want to make your home more accessible for you as you age? Your goal should be to solve problems, not just add space.
What is the style and age of your home? Both factors can impact a remodeling project. Also think about the styles of the other houses in your neighborhood.
You’ll also want to identify your design style. What things appeal to you? Visit a bookstore or a home-improvement store to find magazines and books with photos and informative articles. There are numerous television shows about home design and remodeling.
Next, determine how much you can spend. Add a little cushion in the budget for unplanned expenses.
If you plan to borrow money for your remodeling project, talk to a mortgage broker or a lending institution in advance to determine the amount for which you can qualify and are comfortable investing in your home and neighborhood.
One of best ways to maximize and protect the value of your remodeling investment is by employing a design/build firm. Design/build firms integrate the entire spectrum of a construction project under one roof, ensuring a seamless transition from design to construction.
If you choose the architect/independent contractor route, hire an architect who is experienced in remodeling because he or she will be more familiar and sensitive to the special challenges associated with it. Be aware that your independent architect may not be familiar with current remodeling costs. It’s a good idea to hire your contractor during the design stage.
Check with the Better Business Bureau or the government office of consumer affairs to see if there are any adverse files on record for the company you’re considering.
Study the prospective company. Do they have a proven track record delivering the types of work you’re interested in? How long have they been in business? Ask for proof that they are licensed, bonded and covered by workman’s compensation and liability insurance.
All remodeling projects, budgets and homeowners are not identical. Remember, you want to enhance your living environment. A poorly executed remodeling project can actually decrease the value of your investment.