Remodeling your home can be exhausting. The time and money it takes to create a dream home in the Bay Area might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. A home remodel might not be completely stress-free but with these tips, you can breathe a little easier.
There are so many different home remodeling companies in the Bay Area that you may feel overwhelmed and just want to do it yourself. However, finding a nice and reliable company could be the key to lowering your stress level and putting it into someone else’s hands.
Let’s look at the main causes of stress behind home remodels, these will be the most common issues you will run into in the Bay Area. Many people put off home remodels because of the stress. By employing these tips, you could have a far less stressful home remodel. When you know the cause, it is easier to find the solution.
Deciding Where To Start
The most stressful cause by far is not knowing where to begin.
A simple google search can send you down a rabbit hole of:
- DIY tips to save money.
- Thousands of home examples that you love.
But not necessarily the guide that can assist you on where to start, though.
You need the answers to:
- When and how to file for permits.
- What type of company fits your needs.
- Prices in your area.
- Whether or not you are allowed to add or remodel your home in your town
The Bay Area for example has been known to sometimes have a long wait time for certain projects to get approved.
What to Do First?
- The first step of any project is having a general idea of what you would like done in your home. It is ok if it’s a very rough idea. Try to include as much as possible though.
- Next, you need to decide what your budget is. This is also particularly important. It is a good idea to have extra money set aside in case you go over budget, which can easily happen.
- You’ll also need to think about where you will stay during the project – whether it’s at home or in temporary accommodation.
Once you’ve taken care of these first steps, you will be able to begin calling around and collecting quotes for your project.
If you are hiring a contracting company, they will typically file any permits for you. They will be more knowledgeable about terms, and be able to answer any questions that may come up.
If you’re working for yourself, you can file the permits on your own. Depending on the project, you may not need a permit, but check with your local planning commission. Do plan on having to wait a bit for any project, because you don’t know how long it will take to be approved.
Warning – If your contractor asks you to apply for a permit, don’t. When you file for a permit you take on the full legal responsibility if the final work is not up to code. Unlicensed contractors like to use that trick to stay under the radar.
Getting Everything in Writing
This will be one of your best stress relievers. Having a contract in writing will allow you to breathe easier because you will you know exactly:
- What the scope of work involves.
- What will the project start.
- When it will be finished.
Yes, it’s true that the contractor could still not follow the plan, but having everything in writing will give you a better understanding of what to expect and when to expect it.
If they happen to steer far from the contract you have a contract to save yourself if the project takes far longer or requires significantly more money.
When writing, or accepting, a contract for a remodel make sure to include the following things:
- Your information and the company’s information – Address, names, and phone numbers.
- The address of the property that will be remodeled – If it is different than the above address.
- Start date and the estimated date of completion.
- A break down of the prices, labor cost, and material cost estimates.
- What will happen if they up and quit in the middle, this should always be in the contract to help in any legal issues.
- Details about the scope of work.
- No detail is too small if you want to add it, add it. It won’t hurt.
- Make sure any changes to dates are agreed upon, documented in a change document, and signed by all parties involved.
This helps both parties in case something goes wrong, such as if they go past the end date without agreement, don’t finish, or damage property. Your contractor will be held accountable for the work that should be done.
Finding Out What Everything Will Cost?
When going into any project, guessing the total cost is not a great idea. In fact, it’s a really bad idea.
A professional will give you an ideal quote when you know roughly what you’d like. It is ok to ask in detail what things could or will cost. Having a contractor who is transparent and communicates well is the best hire you could choose for your project.
Get a feel for the contractor you may hire; if they are not a good fit… move on. You are paying them and are in control.
You need someone who will keep open lines of communication, stay within your budget, and let you know when certain obstacles come up.
Once you have your project defined:
- Get a quote
- Make sure your contractor knows your budget and sticks to it
- Stay in good communication with them so they can let you know when problems arise, such as:
- Issues where something else needs to be fixed
- Something ends up costing much more than quoted
- Don’t feel afraid to speak your mind if you don’t like something, it is your home, you are in charge.
- Keep receipts of EVERYTHING if you are purchasing it. Just in case you end up not liking the item or it doesn’t work for the purpose you had intended it to be used.
- It’s a good idea to put 20% of your budget on the side for any unexpected costs that may come up.
Knowing How Long the Project Will Last is Critical
While every project is different, when your contractor gives you a quote, they will also give you a good idea of when they will be finished.
Keep in mind issues can come up sometimes. If you have a set deadline by which the project must be finished, it’s a good idea to start quite a bit earlier. This could be projects like:
- Nursery before the baby arrives
- The kitchen finished before the holidays
- Fall remodel finished before winter
Communication also plays a big role in reducing your stress when it comes to how long your project is taking.
Your contractor should immediately make you aware of any speed bumps that might, or do, arise. That way you know if certain parts will take longer than others.
Another thing to consider when talking about timing, is the impact you have on the project if you are changing your mind multiple times. This will cause frustration between you and your contractor. Although it is your home and your project, changing your mind could cause delays and cost you quite a bit of money. Therefore, it is important to have a clear game plan for what you want before starting. Don’t waste your time or the contractor’s. Everything will go so much smoother.
Also, take the weather into account. Sometimes, mother nature doesn’t like to corporate. We all acknowledge that nobody can control the weather, so there is no fault here, for either you or the contractor, but it can create unforeseen setbacks.
Having A Contractor With Great Communication Skills
This is the MOST important piece to have for your “far less stressful experience” plan. It has been mentioned above and will be mentioned again. Good communication is essential in any job; even more so a home remodel.
- Know and communicate exactly what you want but understand that some things cannot be done on certain budgets. This should all be discussed early on.
- Know and communicate your budget to your contractor.
- Ask questions and don’t be afraid to reach out to the contractor if you are confused or have any questions.
- Do not keep changing your mind. If you hate something speak up to let the contractor know, if possible before starting. It’s good to do a little research to find examples of what you want the outcome to be.
- Stay on top of your contractor without being too pushy.
- Make sure he meets deadlines.
- Make sure they are punctual and keep to the schedule.
Research, Research, Research!
This can be taken a few different ways.
One thing to consider is knowing what you want and researching if it is possible to do this in the space you have.
Also, you need to know who you have working for you and what their reputation is. You should find a company that is known to give what the client wants, but who is willing to inform you if your expectations are unrealistic.
- Be wary of contractors who may give a lower bid than what it actually costs, in order to win the bid and get the job.
- To avoid this, make sure you know the construction costs in your area. This way you will know when a bid is way too good to be true. Additionally, if the other bids are all about the same amount, that should raise a red flag for you regarding a really low bid too.
- If the contractor has no reviews online and not much of a following, proceed with caution. Some companies may just be starting out and wonderful, but it’s not a risk many will want to take. Wasting time and money on a subpar company that doesn’t give you need could become a nightmare.
Houzz has quite a few San Francisco-based companies, along with many all over the world. They provide pictures and real reviews on how the company did. You will see:
- The contractor’s work.
- Some before and after photos.
- What the client wanted.
Don’t Keep Adding Little Projects
When you are spending over $300,000 on a home remodel project what’s another $5,000? It may not seem like much but $10,000 here, $6,000 there, and another $13,000 somewhere else, and you are looking at over $30,000 extra already.
This doesn’t include the small issues that could arise which will eat into the extra money you have set aside for extras.
Adding little things here and there will just add to the total time of your project. It is also very frustrating for a contractor to keep having things added on. Create a plan and stick with it with minimum variations.
Take time to look at Pinterest or other platforms. Print the pictures that inspired your project and have them on hand to show the contractor, and to remind you, what you fell in love with.
Leaving the home to give the team space to work without standing over their shoulder is a great idea. They will work more smoothly, and you won’t find things you think you want to change.
Decide Where Will You Stay During the Project
This is a big deal for many families. When sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a remodel, the last thing you want is to worry about a large hotel bill. While many home remodel projects allow you to live in the home while the work goes on there are some situations when you wouldn’t be able to:
- Large Home Remodels – When dealing with a large remodel, in many cases it is not safe to live in the home. This also depends on what room is being remodeled. A bedroom would be easy to work around while having your kitchen or bathroom gutted makes for an exceedingly difficult day-to-day life.
- Young Children – Construction areas can be a dangerous place for a young child. Not even considering all of the dust and debris. Children are very curious and could easily get into something harmful.
- Illnesses in The Home – If there are people in the home with breathing issues, a home remodel could stir things up causing respiratory distress for some individuals. The debris and dust particles can travel and be easily inhaled.
Before stressing out about where you may need to stay, have a talk with your contractor. They will put your safety first and let you know if you can safely stay in the home during the remodel.
- They can, and typically do, put plastic up blocking off certain areas of the home. You can safely walk around without dust flying all around.
- If you are getting your kitchen remodeled and have a spare room, you can always have a microwave and small fridge plugged in.
- There are many ways to avoid moving your family from their home. However, if you need to leave, many hotels have discounts for longer stays, or you could rent an Airbnb for the duration. There are many beautiful places to stay around the Bay Area.
How To Prepare Your Home For The Remodel
Now that you have a far better understanding of what to expect during your remodel here are some ideas on how to get your home ready:
- Keep takeout menus on hand, in a folder, for times you don’t want to worry about a meal during kitchen remodels.
- Even when it’s a simple remodel project, things can still get misplaced or unorganized. Have a tote for your essentials that stays in the clean area of your home.
- Always have at least one room that has nothing construction-wise going on in it. You need a safe place to relax free of tools, dust, and hazards.
- Take down all linens (curtains, blankets, pillows, rugs, etc.) and place them in an area away from the remodel.
- Cover any furniture (that can’t be moved) with plastic protective coverings. Some companies will do this for you. If you can, move things to a different area away from construction dust and debris.
- Box up any fragile, expensive, or irreplaceable items, even those not in the direct area. As workers walk in and out you don’t want anything accidentally knocked over.
- Try to take this opportunity to control the clutter in your home.
- Storing items in plastic bins not only protects them but keeps items organized.
- Renting a storage unit can also help with managing the stress of not needing to constantly move things around. This provides an option to make sure that nothing will get dirty or ruined, or sad to say, stolen (because it can unfortunately happen anytime).
Wrapping Things Up
There will always be stress during a home remodel. It involves a lot of time and money going into a place that you love and need daily. You don’t want it to turn out wrong.
Having a great contractor will all but eliminate the stressors that can arise. While many people try and do renovations the DIY way, the Bay Area has many wonderful companies to choose from who are ready to walk you through your home remodel and take most of the stress off you.