I love hearing home renovation and rebuild stories. As I listen, I think about how these projects could be even more successful and less stressful for homeowners, if only they hadn’t missed some important steps. Based on these tales and my own experiences rebuilding my home, it’s very clear to me that a successful renovation/rebuild project requires: (1) a thorough plan; (2) a good team; and (3) a realistic budget. While these factors may seem obvious, they are often absent. People regularly move forward on major projects without the requisite knowledge and experience.
A Thorough Plan
Every step and detail required to take the existing house to a fully renovated or rebuilt home must be considered with great care to plan well. Unfortunately, many homeowners come prospective renovators and rebuilders do not have the knowledge and experience to know all that goes into such a project. Nor do the friends they often go to for advice and referrals. Most have a “plan” that goes from A to G, but omits the B, C, D, E and F parts needed to get there. It’s like using a ladder that is missing the middle rungs. As a result, homeowners are often ill-prepared to deal with many issues that come up – foreseeable and not – increasing expense, time and stress.
A Good Team
While a thorough plan is key, it’s success also depends on a good team. That includes the homeowner and all the professionals needed to carry out the plan. When we started our project we knew we needed a builder and drawings. A good start, but really the tip of the iceberg. How do architects and designers fit in? Structural engineers? Sub-trades? Mortgage brokers? They have varied education and experience, and bring different value to each project. Understanding their areas of expertise and how they add value to a project allowed us to proceed more knowledgeably and ask important questions to ensure that measures were effected to minimize the inherent risks these projects present. Then, through our experience we also became especially aware of the tasks which fall on the shoulders of the homeowner. Some are not so obvious. Anticipating these tasks allows the homeowner to create strategies to address them in advance lowering overall levels of stress, time and expense when they come up.
A Realistic Budget
Finally, to execute a detailed plan and hire a good team you need a realistic budget. Most people don’t know the true cost of renovating and rebuilding or what goes into calculating it, and they often do not foresee or budget for expenses indirectly related to construction. Often the cost of reality TV program renovations or new home development projects are used as benchmarks. Be careful, these sources of information are not ideal comparators. For TV programs: Which expenditures are concealed from the audience? How is cost impacted by sponsors? How is cost impacted by location? For new home development projects: Will your project benefit from the same economies of scale? It won’t if you are renovating or rebuilding an individual home.
Help for a successful Renovation/Rebuild Project
If you are thinking about renovating or rebuilding, make sure you have all the steps covered with a thorough plan, a good team and a realistic budget. We can help make it a successful renovation/rebuild story.