Planning for a renovation

Help your project run smoothly.

Several years ago, I had my kitchen redone — and I was woefully unprepared. Luckily, my lack of knowledge about the process didn’t create any major issues. It helped that I was working with a seasoned contractor who helped me immensely. In the end, my kitchen turned out beautifully and on schedule. But the experience left me thinking, “If I ever have to do another renovation, I will do things differently.”

With spring around the corner, you might be contemplating your own renovation project. So, we asked Scott Branc, of New Urban Home Builders, to share some tips on how to make your project a success.

Not surprisingly, giving yourself plenty of time and planning ahead are two of the biggest factors in making a project run smoothly.

It is also important to choose your team carefully. “Do your homework when building your team so you can ultimately step back and trust your team to do what they do best. Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations when it comes to architects, interior designers, general contractors and/or trades. Meet with several solid options and consider what each can bring to the table,” Branc said.

He added, “Once you assemble the team, work with them to make decisions in a timely manner. Be decisive. Get your finishes ordered well in advance so your schedule isn’t held up by waiting on materials. Try not to make a lot of changes so you’re not having to order additional materials or reschedule trades. Your timeline and budget will thank you.”

“Do your homework when building your team so you can ultimately step back and trust your team to do what they do best.”
Scott Branc

In Grand Rapids, there currently is a shortage of tradespeople, so keep that in mind as well.

“Labor costs are high, and homeowners can expect to wait longer to line up more established companies,” Branc said.

Branc said you also should budget for the unexpected. Renovations often uncover unexpected — and sometimes costly — issues.

Speaking of budget, keep yours in check by being realistic. “Don’t plan a $100,000 kitchen remodel for a $200,000 home. Similarly, don’t expect $10,000 to go far in a $1 million home,” Branc said.

To help guide your budget, Branc said, “Identify the specific problems driving you to renovate and focus on these ‘have-to-haves’ while planning your project to ensure your primary goals are met and your scope stays within reason. The ‘nice-to-haves’ are secondary.”

Branc also recommends finding someplace else to stay during a major renovation if possible. “Living in a home that’s being renovated can be trying for homeowners — you’ll have strangers coming and going from your home all day, every day, and there will be noise and dust.”

In the end, when things get stressful, think about how much the renovation will add to the daily experience of your home.

This story can be found in the February 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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