Home Remodeling: Plan Properly to Save Money
This month I had completed the fifth major remodeling on two different homes and in the process of all of them I have learned a few things to do in the planning and execution stage that have paid off in some big savings!
To begin with planning the entire project from start to finish goes a long way in keeping down costs. With my last two projects, which were the complete gutting and remodeling of two bathrooms I was able to apply the things learned earlier. The first step was to sit down a methodically detail everything that I wanted done. I first created a spreadsheet on which I listed everything I wanted to see when the job was done such as new flooring, new walk in shower, decorative wall tile, new lighting, new exhaust fan and so on. I then began to go through listing every single task that had to be done for each item and what materials were needed. Once this was completed I began pricing each item at various local stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, etc. to find the best prices on materials that I was satisfied with (and had the wife’s approval!). I was now ready to bring in contractors to bid on the job.
The key to getting the best pricing was to have multiple contractors come out and look over the job. At this point I provided each one a copy of my spreadsheet, minus the material pricing. As I went over the project with each one I asked questions to make sure that I had considered everything and was happy to see that they each mentioned a couple of things I had overlooked due to my inexperience. I then added these to my list along with any materials they may include. I gave each contractor a set date that I needed a bid back from them along with a specific date they could start work and an estimate of the time required for the entire job. I also wanted to have their estimated timeline for work so I could ensure that work was kept on schedule. I made sure that each one understood that I would purchase all materials and it would be on site when they started. Lastly I advised the contractors that I would remove all sinks, toilets, cabinets, mirrors and towel racks prior them starting work and they would be required to reinstall them. This would help speed up the work since the bathroom would be ready for demolition immediately.
Once all the bids were received I reviewed each one looking at the cost for each specific task. For example if one contractor was quoting a price of $1500 for tile work and all the rest were quoting $750 for that task it was a factor that would help in determining if I would use that contractor. What I was looking for was whether they were all in the same general range for costs or whether one was higher for all tasks. I also looked at when they could begin work since many of them were involved in other jobs and I didn’t want to have to wait long on my project. Lastly I looked at their estimate of the time required. On one of the projects I had an estimate of 7-9 days average for several contractors however one gave an estimate of 30 days. This was an obvious red flag for me as I could see that they probably going to be tied up on other jobs and not devoting the time to me. Finally I checked to see if their bids included any statement concerning unexpected problems and how they would be handled since I may not be on the job site all the time. After reviewing all the bids I was ready to select the contractor to handle my project.
The key to making sure the job was finished on time and on budget was to establish a relationship with the foreman and let them know that you would be monitoring the work. By having all materials on site which I did not pay any markup for them doing the shopping I saved money. I further saved by having the job ready for demolition when they arrived on day one and when work scheduled for a particular day was not being done I questioned the foreman. I also made sure they understood that I would not hesitate to contact the company owner if I felt things were not progressing the way I thought they should. All in all the job went smoothly with few unexpected problems. Any changes to material or work were discussed and agreed beforehand and in the end I had two beautiful bathrooms that cost me far less than if I had simply called a contractor and allowed them to do everything. Invest some time in planning your remodeling projects and you will find it can result in big savings.