If you are considering a home remodeling or renovation project, now could be a good time to start the process. Financing is at historic lows, home values are steady or rising, and fall is a perfect time to plan for a spring project start.
Many Chicagoans – especially those on the North Shore – opt to renovate their current home rather than move, according to Joan Lynch, principal with Lynch Construction, a well-known construction company based in Lake Bluff.
“The key is to design and build the new project so it seamlessly blends into the existing structure,” says Joan. “That’s actually a bigger challenge than building an all-new home.
If you’re ready to move forward, approach the project logically and consider these tips:
Create a vision.
Gather photos and examples of designs and details you like from magazines, websites and homes you love. That will give you a starting point when you meet contractors.
Establish a budget.
A reputable builder will respect your budget limitations and alert you to possible cost increases. Be realistic in the beginning.
Do your homework.
Check out contractor reputations through friends, neighbors and municipalities where they have done work. Inspectors will know the good from the bad!
Choose a flexible contractor.
You’ll want someone who listens more than sells and can roll with changes along the way.
A long-standing reputation for service is important.
If you have problems in subsequent years you’ll want a contractor who is responsive.
Manage your expectations.
Adhere to the process; design, contract, schedule.
“It’s important to strike a balance between your vision and the budget,” explains Joan. “In our experience, most cost increases are driven by customers who request more costly materials after the project is underway.”
A reputable, professional builder will keep you constantly abreast of the project schedule as well as cost increases due to customer requests. It’s also a good idea to document everything that goes along with the project – including photos, schedules, change orders and invoices.
“Working with a builder on a home improvement or historic renovation project is not unlike a marriage,” says Joan. “Open and honest communication is important. The end result should be a big smile every time you enter the room.”
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