Anyone who’s ever decided to do a major home improvement project will offer you these three truths:
1) Your project will be harder than you expect;
2) It’ll be more expensive than you planned for, and
3) It’s going to take longer than you think it will.
Unless you’re packing years of construction experience, chances are you are not prepared for a major house project. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it and do it well. Whether you’re planning to do the work yourself, or are ready to bring on a contractor, planning ahead is EVERYTHING. Before you dive wallet-first into a bathroom remodel or new porch build, get yourself prepared for the project with these 5 steps.
Pick Your Projects Carefully
There’s always more to be done, but you don’t need to do it all now. Some projects go together naturally and should be done in a certain order. For example, if your house needs new siding, it doesn’t make sense to paint first.
Figure out what your most essential projects are, and start there. If you’re looking for low-budget ways to improve market value, that may mean painting, replacing floors, and upgrading fixtures. If you’re living in your forever home, you may want to upgrade the kitchen, repair or refinish the basement, or install energy-efficient appliances.
Do the Research
Once you know your project basics, make sure you understand the scope. What do you need to consider? What will it cost, and where are the money traps? Can you do it yourself? Should you? What steps are involved? Do you need a permit, or a 411 call, or an inspection? What supplies and expertise do you need?
Sketch out the whole project, including process, supplies, and budget, and make sure you can get what you need to finish the job.
Get Several Quotes
Even if you don’t plan to hire a contractor, you should have a couple give you quotes. Here’s why: the experts will usually do a free walk-through and comment on what they see.
This is a great time to ask questions you found in your research, and to make sure you aren’t missing important steps or signs of larger issues. If you decide to hire a pro, be sure to get quotes and comments from a few and compare their online reviews as well as their price tags. Don’t forget to ask about their process, timeline, and service standards. How will they communicate with you? Will they do the whole job, including clean up? Do you need to be present to let them in?
Budget and Finance
Major house projects cost money. Whether you’re DIYing or hiring a pro, the price tag is likely more than you have saved up. Consider using your home’s value (equity) to help fund the improvements.
A Home Equity Line of Credit lets you draw funds up to an approved amount when you need them, and pay them off as you go. Rates are usually lower than a credit card or personal loan, and you can keep using your HELOC for more projects down the line. Do your research, talk to your Sierra Pacific rep, and figure out how you’ll pay for your home project.
Shop Online and Local
If your project involves replacing appliances, large quantities of lumber, specialty deck materials, or anything else you can purchase ahead of time, do the research. See if there is a local dealer you can support, or find well-reviewed sellers online. Arrange for a dumpster if you’ll be doing any demolition. Get your deliveries planned out and ordered so you’ll be ready to go when installation time comes.
Bonus Tip: Line Up Help!
Any project is easier, safer, and more fun with a few friends to give you a hand. Tell your friends and family about the project. Maybe they’ve had a similar home improvement experience, or have construction experience and insight to share. And when you’re ready to get started, be sure to recruit your most reliable friends for a day or two of help. Pay them back with dinner and drinks, get your House Work playlist going, and get the tools and protective gear you’ll need. Make sure you have jobs for everyone to do planned out ahead of time.
That’s it! You’re ready! You’ll still hit some snags, there’s no doubt about it. But if you’ve planned carefully, gotten advice from the pros, budgeted, and recruited good help, you’ll be okay. Go get that home improvement project started, and remember, Sierra Pacific is here to help whenever you need us.