Home Remodeling

Let us help you estimate the market value of your home and guide you through home remodeling projects. You should annually determine whether your investment is moving in the right direction. Use this 6 Step Home Remodeling Guide to review the entire home remodeling process.

Download free templates to get started with your remodeling project. The templates are in Microsoft Office 2007 format.

STEP 1 - Analyze Expenses & Return On Investment

Before you start your home improvement project, you should create an estimate to determine whether your project is a smart investment. Not all home improvements return the same value to a home. The numbers to consider include the estimated contruction costs, home value assessment, financing costs, and other related calculations.

Begin Analyzing The Numbers

Review cost-related issues to home remodeling vs. buying a new home. Your factors include the estimated cost of remodeling, home and neighborhood assessments, tax implications and payback benefits.

Use our free spreadsheet to analyze, estimate and track your home improvement project.

Budgeting and Saving Money

If you should decide to move forward after your assessment, let's view tips on saving construction costs and budgeting. You will want to avoid spending more money than you need to keep your overall plan in-line:

  • analyze your standard specifications in what you put into your house, and make sure that they have good value.
  • work with an architects to create a common scope of work for all projects, so the same standards and materials are on the same page for each project. This will produce a consistent and seamless product.
  • keep it simple and don't over design. Make your designs extensible so they can be added on to at a later time.
  • don't rush to construction, develop a complete start package prior to beginning construction on a house and variances will go down.

STEP 2: Collect Home Remodeling Ideas

Your second step in home remodeling is deciding what you would like to do. This includes reviewing home remodeling ideas, home improvement plans, architectural styles, floor layouts, home product galleries and more.

Brainstorm On Paper

Begin by writing down all your home remodeling ideas, home remodeling considerations, home innovation trends, architectual styles, and more.

  • Need help brainstorming, there are variety of tools online which can help, such as TheBrain.

Check Published House Plans

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Review magazines and books for floor plans and renderings which might match your design considerations. You might find something exactly what you are looking for; or you can take a similar plan and have an architect tweak it to meet your specifications. Here are some places to look:

STEP 3: Sketch Out Your Remodeling Plan

Start by sketching out your ideas and develop a specification plan. The spec plan determines what type of materials and design considerations that will be needed. You will use the spec plan and architectual design to bid the project out to a contractor.

Sketch Your Remodeling Plan

After you have collected your ideas and reviewed existing house plans, it's time to sketch your plan. This plan may include an architectural design (if needed), and the remodeling specification plan Some ideas you should consider: about developing your remodeling plan some design considerations

  • Need help drawing, there are variety of tools online which can help, such as SketchUp.

Develop A Specification Plan

A Construction Specification Plan defines the specifications for your home construction. It will list the size and type of rooms, the general layout of each floor, the plumbing needs throughout the house, flooring requirements for each room, the landscaping layout of the yard, and more. It should detail everything that you would like to see: brand, make, model, color, etc. Take a completed draft of the specifications to your architect or planner, who will then customize a house plan or revise an existing plan that meets your specs.

Heed help creating a spec plan? Download our free template.

Always Get Building Permits

Remember that your project may require permits. It will either be up to you or the contractor to obtain each permit. Don't try to do a project without permits. A building inspector from your local zoning and planning department can force you to remove improvement if they are done without permits.

Also note that building codes specify how each home project should be completed. Local building inspectors will ensure that the construction meets code. It will be helpful to understand these codes when assembling your specs.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

Don't get lead astray by costs or mistakes that you will regret later. Get the information you need to save money on your remodeling project (covers each room in the house): view cost saving tips you might need the service of an architect, structural engineer or draftperson to help finalize the plan for contractural review.

STEP 4: Find A Contractor

Search well establisted networks for skilled professional to find the right contractor for your project. Interview prospective contractors and get references. Give your remodeling ideas and specs to a few contractor for review and bid analysis.

Find A Pre-Screened Or Member Referred Contractor

After you develop the specification plan and design, you are ready to bid the remodeling project out to a contractor. Be prepared to negotiate with two or three contractor bids for best price:

  • search for pre-screened contractors through a service such as ServiceMagic.
  • search your local Better Business Bureau - BBB.
  • search internet services such as Yelp or Angie's List.
  • search licensed home building companies.
  • search the "member-preferred" yellowpages.

STEP 5: Financing Your Project

Arrange financing once you have selected a contractor, determined an estimate and finalized a contract for your home improvement project. Using the equity value in your home is one of the best financing option for home improvement.

What Type Of Financing Can You Get

There are two financing options available:

  1. get a home equity line of credit to fund your project as expenses occur; or
  2. refinance your home with a cash-out position to pay for your home remodeling project.

Review both financing options and see how best to qualify for each one.

Home Equity Line Of Credit

A home equity line of credit (often called HELOC and pronounced HEE-lock) is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower's equity in his/her house. Because a home often is a consumer's most valuable asset, many homeowners use home equity credit lines only for major items, such as education, home improvements, or medical bills, and choose not to use them for day-to-day expenses.

Use the equity in your home to pay for:

  • supplies
  • home materials
  • contractors
  • home decor
  • anything else you need for your home remodeling project.

STEP 6: Project Management

This is where the project begins. It starts with setting up the work area, removing everything that needs to be replaced, installing plumbing and electrical if needed, and putting on the final touches.

  • Need help getting organized, use an online tool such as SmartSheet to stay on track. This will let contractors be able to see a schedule online and send emails to everyone involved.

How Best to Manage the Project

The contractor will subcontract projects and work with suppliers to provide the materials and labor.

Consider your level of involvement with the contractor. Most owners rely on the contractor's judgment and experience in selecting subcontractors and buying materials.

  • Your biggest role will be in charge of the money and schedule. You will want to devise a way to keep track of your finances. Keep a ledger, and make sure you are not spending more than you budgeted on any item or job. What is one of the easiest ways to go over budget? When delays are caused, money is spent. After all, time is money. To that end, it's important that you stick to a schedule. For example, if the plumber is coming on a particular day but the HVAC work needs to be done first, make sure the HVAC work is done on time. If it isn't, you'll have to reschedule your plumber, and subsequently the other workers who are coming in after him.
  • Maintain detailed records of all purchases, purchase orders, checks, and receipts, for quick and easy access when needed.
  • Protect yourself from unexpected injuries to people or property by making sure all workers are insured.
  • Workers will be grateful for and will work better in a pleasant work environment. You should have a bathroom available to the workers and refreshments on hand throughout the day.
  • Be prepared to adapt and have a backup plan ready when delays due to shortages, labor disputes, weather, etc., occur. Find an alternative supplier if material is not delivered on schedule, and encourage continued good service by rewarding prompt delivery with a monetary bonus.
  • Understand the order in which the work must be completed for your home renovation. Some projects must be completed before others can begin, and it is important that you are present when major steps, such as the laying of foundation, are being completed.
  • Construction costs are increased when delays occur, so try to stay on schedule.
  • Schedule subcontractors so that there is time for inspections and repairs (if needed) of one subcontracted project before another subcontractor begins.

Don't Pay Until You Get An Inspection

Make sure you use a licensed inspector to inspect every point along the project phase for quality before making any payments to the contractor. The building inspector should sign off on any outstanding permits for each phase of the project. Dont't pay your contract until after a satisfactory inspection because once the money leaves your hand, you lose all negotiating power:

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