Renovating your home can be a costly and stressful endeavor—whether you are gutting a bathroom or remodeling your entire house! Jean talks with Laura Meyer and Robyn Roth, who drew upon their experiences with major home renovations to write Remodel This! A Woman's Guide to Planning and Surviving the Madness of a Home Renovation.
The book covers all the issues that come along with home renovation, from picking a contractor to setting a budget to keeping your marriage intact through the stress and expense of remodeling. Laura and Robyn share their advice for staying on budget and succeeding with a home renovation project:
Decide how long you plan to live in your home.Decide if your home is "husband material" or "boyfriend material." Robyn says you will likely stay with a home that is husband material for awhile—a boyfriend material home, on the other hand, is a starter home. "If you think this is really your starter home—if you really think you will not be in it for very long—when you are remodeling you really will want to be focusing on getting the most bang for your buck," Robyn says.
Do a cost estimate with a contractor, and then have multiple contractors prepare bids.Do a cost estimate with a contractor, then have multiple contractors prepare bids. Most home renovation projects tend to go 15 to 20 percent over budget. Robyn says you need to set a budget and ask contractors for line by line descriptions of items for the renovation. She says you should also have a clear idea of your project. "You need to figure out in sort of a general way what you are doing," Robyn says. "Are you doing a bathroom? Are you doing the kitchen? Or are you adding a wing?"
Do your homework.Do your homework before hiring a contractor, and follow your gut. Most contractors are men and Laura says making sure you are comfortable with your contractor is key. "You want to make sure this is somebody you can relate to, who you have a rapport with, who isn't talking down to you, doesn't prefer to talk to your husband, who isn't treating you like the car mechanic treats you," Laura says. "There are really good contractors out there who know how to work with women, who know how to be professional and who aren't going to be treating you like you are a second-class citizen."
Don't pay too much up front.Don't pay too much up front. Robyn says paying a deposit and then paying your contractor as the project progresses is okay, but don't pay the project off before the work is done. "You need to make sure you are holding enough money at the end so that he is motivated to come back and finish things up," Robyn says. "That is including the punch list, the little things [like] the knobs and the light fixtures and some of the big things, too."
Put everything in writing.
Have any changes or upgrades made to the project put in writing by your contractor. Adding upgrades, even small items, in the middle of a renovation can be costly, and Robyn says you need to require your contractor to write up a "change order." "Those change orders should not only highlight or discuss what changes you are going to make, but should set forth exactly how much those changes are going to cost," Robyn says.