If you’re reading this blog post, you’re already on the right track! You’re putting in the necessary research, reflection, and planning that a successful home renovation requires. If you’re able to find the right builder/remodeler early on in your process, they will be able to ease some of the burden and be a valuable guide, advocate, and sounding board for you.
As you move through the research and planning phase of your home renovation, below are five key questions you’ll want to consider.
How do I choose the right builder for my renovation?
Well, to begin you’ve got to know that in the state of Texas anyone can be a builder or remodeler. There are no licenses or certifications required by law here like there are in many other states. Because of this very low entry barrier, there are hundreds of homebuilders in and around Houston. Take this into consideration when choosing a remodeler. Do as much homework as you can to assess how experienced and capable your builder candidates are when it comes to home renovations specifically. Interview them. Request to visit a home or jobsite with them. Speak to their past homeowners. Learn their processes to confirm they are organized and effective. Make sure they are a good fit for you and your family. For questions to ask potential remodelers and their references, visit our previous blog post here. The truth is, choosing the right builder will have the greatest impact on how successful your renovation ultimately is. The right builder will take your vision and goals and make them a reality, all the while creating a smooth and enjoyable experience for you.
Also, if yours is a large-scale home renovation, it’s especially important to be sure your potential remodelers have relevant experience with other large-scale renovations. The difference between small-scale and large-scale refers to the scope and complexity of the project. While some remodelers specialize in single-room renovations, we excel at complex custom construction that affects several spaces of the home. Typically, our renovations affect both the interior and exterior of the home and involve many moving parts, coordination between multiple trades, and thoughtful problem solving throughout. Be sure that your builder candidates allocate a construction manager and project manager team to only 2-3 jobs at a time because these types of projects require close supervision and high-quality management in order to complete them successfully.
What scope of work can realistically be accomplished within my budget?
The first step to answering this question is to ask one (or both) of your top custom builder/remodeler candidates to come to your home for a walk-through. Before these walk-throughs, create a renovation must-have list as well as a wish list. What areas or aspects of the home MUST be updated? And which areas or aspects do you simply WISH could be renovated if it turns out your budget is sizable enough to cover more than your must-haves? In addition, gather multiple inspiration photos in order to illustrate your style and desired level of finishes. You’ll also want to share what your budget is upfront in these conversations. When you are walking your home with your builder candidate(s), they should be able to give you an opinion based on their experience regarding whether or not your must-have list and wish list items can be accomplished within your budget. From this, you and your builder should be able to craft a very loose scope for your home renovation that they can use to proceed.
If an architect is needed (structural changes are required), then the builder can assist you in connecting with one. Once architectural and structural engineering is complete, the next step is for your builder to meet several of their trades at the home (likely two different groups on two different occasions). From this site walk, the trades will work up proposals and the builder can begin compiling a detailed budget for your renovation.
This budget will tell you how much your renovation scope is likely to cost. It is ALWAYS a good idea to build some wiggle room into your budget. Renovation issues can be exponentially more difficult to deal with if you’re running out of money. Giving yourself a healthy margin for any unanticipated expenses that could crop up is one of the best things you can do to keep stress levels down throughout your project. That way, if your renovation exposes more issues than you thought it would, you don’t have to change your plans or cut back on finishes to make up for it. You can simply regroup with your builder and forge ahead until your home is everything you’ve hoped for.
The most important thing here is to partner with a trustworthy builder/remodeler who has a lot of home renovation experience so that they have a firm handle on potential costs and are as open and honest as possible. Try to find someone who isn’t going to play games with low bids upfront followed by onerous change orders down the line.
How long should my home renovation take?
The answer to this question depends largely on the scope of your home renovation. If your renovation affects several spaces of the home at once and/or involves significant structural and mechanical changes, construction can take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year.
The factors that most influence home renovation durations are:
- Scope and complexity of the renovation (Number of spaces? Interior and/or exterior? Significant structural changes?)
- Your builder’s organizational ability and sub management skills
- The quality and reliability of your builder’s sub-base
- Homeowner decisiveness when making selections
- Weather delays during construction
- Availability of construction materials
- Current conditions of the subcontractor labor market
While some of these factors may seem out of your builder’s control, they should never be an excuse for significantly exceeding your initial construction schedule if no major scope changes were made during the project. Experienced custom builders should always do their best to mitigate potential construction delays with strong organization, planning, and communication throughout construction.
For more specifics on how long your renovation might take, visit our previous blog post here.
What selections should I be making BEFORE demo starts?
Before construction on your home renovation begins, you will want to make dozens of design decisions. First and foremost, you’ll want to nail down your project scope and try to stick to that as much as possible throughout the project. Beyond scope, the selections you’ll want to make before beginning your home renovation are:
- Windows and exterior doors
- Exterior materials/colors/details
- Plumbing fixtures
- Interior beams
- Fireplace details
- Interior flooring material
- Specialty finish selections that may have long lead times (light fixtures, tile, A/V equipment, items coming from overseas, etc.)
Our project managers act as facilitators for the selections process, working very closely with you and your interior designer to ensure all selections are made on time to keep construction on schedule. We create a customized comprehensive selection schedule that is continually updated and communicated to make this process as painless as possible for you. We also provide helpful selections guides to give you an overview of the selection category, general options, a background on relevant terminology, and showroom information.
How can I be sure that my home renovation will stand the test of time?
This question is so important, especially in a place like Houston where humidity and heat can wreak havoc on a home over time. The first (and most important) line of defense is to partner with a custom builder who has years of experience successfully completing complicated, large-scale home renovations.
Especially with renovations, it’s imperative that your builder work closely with a building science specialist to provide a holistic assessment of your scope and how the renovation will change your home’s performance over time. Oftentimes updating some aspects of the home and not others will change the way a home “breathes” and interacts with the surrounding environment. This change can affect everything from indoor air quality, energy efficiency, the performance of the home’s shell, and the effectiveness of the mechanical systems within the home. Instead of renovating the home, THEN dealing with the aftereffects, it’s always better to take a proactive approach. Together, your custom builder, architect, engineer, and building science specialist will ensure that your renovation will result in a finished home that is well-designed, structurally sound, and high performing for decades to come.
In addition, you’ll want to be sure that your custom builder’s quality assurance controls during construction are tight. Does your construction manager have an extensive background in high-end custom residential construction? Are they on your jobsite daily to ensure subcontractors are using high quality materials and methods to build your home? Are their subcontractors thoroughly vetted for quality, value, and reliability before they ever become part of your builder’s sub network? Do you feel confident that everyone involved on your project stays up-to-date on ever-evolving building science best practices?
Lastly, you’ll want to know that your builder has a history of standing behind their work. Talk to past clients, ask about the builder’s warranty process, and look for clues as to whether they will remain responsive to your needs long after you move-in.
There’s a good chance that reading this blog post has brought up additional questions in your mind. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We know that embarking on a custom home renovation or addition can feel a bit daunting at first, so we’re happy to help you along these first steps of your journey any way we can.