Remodeling your home can be an exciting and rewarding process. Whether you are making modest changes in one or two rooms or transforming the entire house, the process can be pleasant and smooth — IF you take the time to plan your project carefully. BAGI remodeling members suggest homeowners follow these 10 steps to help ensure a successful remodel.

1. Do Your Homework

Advance research is the key to getting what you want. Review magazines, books and websites to get an idea of the look you are going for. Visit friends, family members and colleagues who have renovated recently and ask about their experiences. Consider your lifestyle and the needs of your family, both in the short term and the long term. A professional remodeler can help assess the feasibility of your plans.

2. Assess How Much You Can Afford

Once you have a firm idea of the kind of remodel you would like to undertake, it is time to decide how you are going to pay for it. If you are thinking about using outside funds, discuss your borrowing needs and options with your lender. You will probably find there are many financing possibilities to consider, from personal loans to lines of credit and home equity loans.

3. Look for a Professional Remodeler

For experienced service and high-quality results, hire a professional remodeler. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Find a neighbor who is remodeling and ask about their project. Most people are delighted to share their remodeling experiences.

4. Choose the Remodeler

Once you have found several professional remodelers, interview them. Be sure you have listed all the items that are important to you. Remember that you are selecting a team to help you with your project. Make sure to choose a the one you feel most comfortable with.

If you have plans and specifications, have the remodelers provide you with a proposal. If you do not have plans already, ask the remodelers to provide you with a proposal and a budget for a design-build project. Most professional remodelers will provide a complete level of service, including their own in-house designers or architects. It should be expected that many professional remodelers will charge for their design services, so be sure to ask about their fee structure early in the process.

5. Check References/Insurance

Do not omit this step just because you are too busy or “they seem like the right person for the job.” Check with BAGI, the remodeler’s previous clients or even some of their vendors to ensure that you are making the right choices. Make sure you obtain the remodeler’s insurance agent contact information to confirm their policy is current.

6. Work Out a Contract

Automatically accepting the lowest bid is not always in your best interest. Sometimes low bids turn out to be the most expensive in the end. It is very important to be certain that the remodeler has properly understood what you want and is giving you pricing that reflects the full scope of your project.

If you accept a remodeler’s offer, it’s time to write up a contract. Even the simplest of jobs should be outlined in writing as the contract is the basis of understanding between you and your remodeler. Before signing a contract, read it carefully. Are you satisfied with the description of the work to be done? Are the responsibilities of the remodeler clearly spelled out? Remember that if something is not in the contract, then it is your responsibility.

The payment process varies with each professional remodeler. You should never pay 100 percent of the job up front. Typically, each stage of the remodeling process is paid for in advance until the job is complete. Ask your remodeler to clearly define their payment process prior to contract signing.

7. Plan How You Will Live During the Renovation

Careful planning can greatly minimize the inconvenience of living in the midst of a remodel. Talk to your remodeler about the schedule of work to be done and how your daily routine might be affected. For instance, will the water be turned off for any length of time? Do you need to set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in the home? Can major work be done in stages so you always have some livable space? Discuss your expectations of the work crew and determine the work environment. The crew needs access to washroom facilities, water and electricity. Decide which areas of your home are off limits. Also, be sure your pets have a safe and secure place to live out of harm’s way.

It’s also good idea to let your neighbors know that you are going to be remodeling. Show them your plans and explain how long the work will take.

8. Establish a Good Working Relationship with Your Remodeler

Remodelers and homeowners agree that a good working relationship is a vital ingredient in successful renovation projects. Mutual trust is essential. Keep lines of communication open at all times. Expect a brief report on the progress of your job at regular intervals. Be available to make decisions when they are needed so work is not held up. Don’t hesitate to bring your concerns to the attention of the remodeler.

9. Try to Stick with Your First Choices

Once work is underway, changes should be kept to a minimum. The details of your project, described in the contract down to the finishing touches, form the basis of both the price and the schedule of your job. Changes could affect both significantly. Remodelers will likely attempt to accommodate any alteration in plans, as long as you accept a possible delay in completion or a change in price.

10. Enjoy the Results

Research, good planning, a professional work crew, open communication and trust — a recipe for a home remodel that you will enjoy for years to come!

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