Q: How much should I need to spend to remodel and redecorate my house? —Krista C.
A: Krista, Last time we chatted, I was focusing on the costs and options for a basic re-decoration of your home, so, this time let's swing for the fences and assume that you're going to be doing some remodeling as well.
Whenever we start talking about pricing we're always working from a great disadvantage as I can't speak to your specific project. It's like asking how much you should spend on a cashmere sweater or a car. Sweaters and cars (and contractors!) can vary greatly in pricing. A great deal of it depends on the kind of sweater — and the kind of construction work — that you need to have done.
So here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Be Prepared
Your first meeting will run much more smoothly if you are all ready with inspiration pictures to and even specific details about appliances to make your meeting productive. Design is an incredibly visual field, so images from design magazines and blogs will help translate your needs and thoughts to the other members of the team.
2. Set Goals
Remember that you've most likely been thinking about remodeling your house for years, but, this is the first time your contractor or architect has seen the project. Organize your thoughts. I always like when we can talk about "What we need to accomplish" and less of "This is how I think we should do it." In other words, talk about goals. "We need to expand the kitchen to create more usable counter space" is going to get everyone up to speed much better than "Let's knock this wall down and move the sink over here." These people are professional, so allow them to bring you their best work.
3. Compare Bids
I always recommend that you interview two or three companies for your project. But, when the final bids come in don't just turn to the last page and compare the various totals to each other. The highest bid is often the most realistic projection of costs, and may include necessary budget items that other lower-priced bids missed.
4. Compare Businesses
Remember that once you hire your contractor they are going to be all up in your life! They will often be the first people you see each morning, so, be sure that you're comfortable with the idea of them being in your home. Be sure that you're able to meet with the foreman for your project, he or she is going to be your point-person, soo make sure you both have a good connection.
5. Shop Your Bid
The best part of having a finely-detailed contractor bid in hand is that you can truly weigh the various costs of the different parts of the project. Go through it very carefully and review each line item. This way you're making an informed decision about which parts of the project to move forward with. Again, you need to be well-informed about the pricing of items that you've specified. Are they well-aligned with the bid?
6. Discuss the Money
Make sure you have a very clear understanding about how payments are made and how your funds are being applied to the project. You should have every expectation to see incredibly transparent financial documents as your project proceeds. Ask for a sample invoice.
7. Construction is Fluid
You need to expect your project to ebb and flow both in timeline and costs. You certainly have every right and expectation for your project to move smoothly, on schedule, and on budget, but, there are often factors that no one has control over, so you also need to be reasonable about any delays or change orders that might arise.
As I said earlier, it's going to be tough to discuss specific dollar amounts for your project, but, I think if you enter in the process as a well-informed partner, you're already well on your way to a beautiful new home.