When it comes to remodeling a home—whether a private residence or a rental unit—there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. However, having a plan in place, and making allowances for things not quite going right, will help you have a successful remodeling project with little to no complications.
Planning is the most important stage in any real estate project. It can often be the line between a successful project and an unsuccessful disaster. Taking a few moments prior to starting any venture and doing your due diligence ahead of time will ultimately save you money, time, and plenty of headaches.
So how do you plan for success?
Decide on Budget
Once you decide to set out on a real estate remodeling endeavor always take some time to figure out your budget, particularly if the home is a rental investment property. Setting a firm budget prior to starting any project will give you a window into the freedom you have in your remodeling scale.
When setting your budget, always try to include a buffer. Don’t set your budget for the exact amount you have available. It’s important to keep yourself below your maximum just in case something unexpected occurs. While you can’t plan for a specific accident, always plan on there being one and keep your budget below what you think you can afford.
Decide on Method
Once you’ve set your budget, it’s time to decide how you will handle the project itself. Are you handy or do you need to hire out? Before you can even make this decision, check with your local municipality. In some states, a licensed contractor is required for all projects—especially for rental properties. In other states, you can do the work yourself as long as you apply for a permit and pass an inspection. Your area’s rules and regulations regarding remodels will ultimately determine which method you can go with for your intended project.
If you find yourself able to choose between hiring a contractor or doing it yourself, take some time to consider both options carefully. While hiring a contractor is more expensive up front than doing it yourself, it is important to remember that they are professionals who have experience in this type of work. A contractor is less likely to waste materials from incorrectly measuring, cutting, or screwing up. If anything goes wrong, the work is often guaranteed, unlike if you do it yourself. If you are utilizing the property as a rental unit, keep in mind that having documented proof that all work was completed by a licensed and insured contractor can actually be a selling point to many tenants—and can often come in handy should any legal situations arise down the road.
Map Out Your Project
Don’t just jump into it full swing and start ripping things out and breaking things down. Plan your remodel out meticulously. If you are doing a full-scale home remodel, think everything through carefully to ensure you don’t cause any additional work for yourself. For example, if you haven’t gotten to the bathroom or kitchen, don’t paint the entry foyer. The last thing you want is to chip your fresh paint job while hauling out the old kitchen appliances. Consider the entire scope of the project and set your timelines accordingly.
Plan for Complications
While it may sound hard to do, this is perhaps the most important step in any remodeling project. It is the key to whether you will experience a dream remodel or a nightmare failure. Always, always allot for problems in any project you undertake—no matter how small or large.
In addition to leaving a buffer in your budget, always leave some fluff room in your timeline. If the property is a rental unit, always leave several weeks between your expected completion date and your required completion date. If you own the property, don’t agree to host any events for several weeks after you believe your project will be finished. This gives you some wiggle room if your contractor uncovers an additional problem (ie: faulty wiring in the living room walls or mold under the floorboards in the bathroom) or if you make a mistake during your own do-it-yourself renovations.
The main consensus in the real estate industry when it comes to handling any remodeling is to plan. Plan, plan, plan, and over-plan. Plan your budget, plan your method, and always plan for problems. A few extra hours spent researching and planning is the ultimate key in having a successful remodeling project.