Remodeling is one of the most disruptive things you will do within the walls of your own home. Choosing the right remodeling partner is the most important thing you will do. And, setting your expectations appropriately.
Dust, dirt, moving things around, noise, and trades/crafts folks coming and going. And, if you have more parts of your house that you want to remodel, you may be asking if you should do it over a few years... or do it all at once. And, believe me, it is easier if you understand the disruption and prepare for it.
So, some advice...
Those remodeling TV shows… that is television. Reality TV has no bearing on your house or your project.
Next, walk through your house and make a list of everything you want to do. Look at the BIG and the small. All the way from “Remove that wall” down to “change that light fixture or switch.” Trust me, the “small’ is easier, cheaper, and simpler to do if you plan it all ahead of time.
Next, be prepared to make a LOT of decisions. Samples, pictures, and styles of what you have in mind can help. Ask your remodeling company early what types of decisions (colors, styles, wood, appliances, etc…) you will need to make so that you can start thinking about them early. Don’t be the home-owner that decides that a wall should come down and colors should change right as the painters are putting on the final touches.
Next, and most importantly, get a good remodeling partner. Not just a remodeling company. Or a single tradesman, but a remodeling partner that will be with you from start to finish. Someone you can trust and will be honest, open, and keep the lines of communications open.
We interviewed four remodeling companies, talked to their designers, reviewed proposals, met with their project managers, and did many walk-throughs. The 4th (and last) company we interviewed was Stewart Remodeling. On a referral from our neighbor, we met with Tom Stewart. He did not ask for a deposit or commitment before he visited our home. He listened to what we wanted to do and shared some ideas. Within a few minutes of talking to Tom, we absolutely convinced his company was the best fit for our project.
We did a pretty big project. We updated the entire first floor of the house and the bathrooms on the second floor. After we signed the contract and had our estimates, we started meeting with trade specialists and their project manager, Matthew. The provided us with a fairly comprehensive plan including milestones and what our expectations should be.
During the project, Matthew kept us apprised of what was going on, delays, problems, and the various phases of completion. Tom Stewart personally visited us a few times during the project to make sure everything was going smoothly. Our designer also visited few times after things got started to make sure that things were shaping up as she envisioned them.
During the life of the project (4 months), we had at least 15 different people working on various pieces including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, dry-wallers, painters, tilers, hardwood floor specialists, masons, and more. They were all polite, professional, and friendly. They all kept their work areas tidy, cleaned up at the end of each day, and tried hard to minimize the dust. (Dust is a fact of life during any renovation so prepare for it.)
We had very few delays, actually. A couple of days delays due to large snow falls and some delays because the granite company did not cut the kitchen counters correctly. But, we still finished ON TIME and ON BUDGET! For each minor delay, Matthew had a plan for ensuring we stayed on schedule.
Remember I said “walk around your existing place and take lots of notes?” Decide what you want to change / update / remodel early. We had several changes that we asked for after we started. We had additional ideas *after* we started the project. Stewart’s team cheerfully took those in to consideration and charged us for them (as expected), but they would have been cheaper / easier if we had done them ahead of time. (One example: we installed two doggie doors *after* they had finished fixing the drywall in two rooms. It would have been easier to plan that ahead of time by putting the doggie doors in and then fixing the drywall only once.)
In addition, we were replacing the windows and installing stucco on the outside of the house. We foolishly thought it would be easier to manage these projects ourselves so we started them before we contracted with Stewart. In hindsight, I would have turned it all over to Stewart. The price would have been the same and then I would not have to have managed the bad workmanship of the window company myself.
I strongly recommend Stewart Remodeling. They are professional, honest, and affordable.