May 9, 2013

I recently read an article from on the six things a contractor and homeowner should discuss before a remodeling project, but rarely do. The author made such excellent points that I can’t help but share them. In a series of six posts, I’ll share the things contractors and homeowners should discuss and how we address them with our homeowners. I’m hopeful that when you’re ready to remodel, you’ll be able to use these suggestions to your advantage.

First on the list of things you should discuss with your contractor? Interior Design. Here’s what the Design Build Pros had to say:

You have decided to build a kitchen addition for your home. You want an open space, have discussed the size, and the remodeler gave you a floor plan of the new design. You have even visited the recommended cabinet designer for a “3D” view of the kitchen. What more should be discussed? Plenty! Most remodelers do not consider, let alone discuss with you, how the new room will flow into the existing space. How does the crown molding in the family room tie into the new crown for the cabinetry? Where does the kitchen paint color end, and the family room paint begin? When you are sitting at your new table, does the structural column block the view to the family room TV? Discussing these items up front will make sure the end result of your project is exactly how you intended it to be, reduces the chance of extra costs, and helps eliminate project delays.

Can I get an Amen? Too many homeowners get caught up in the “fun” details. Things like countertops and tile and flooring and cabinets. While extremely important, think of these things as the frosting on the cake, the cake being your well-planned room. A room that includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC, lighting, and many other elements that tie into the rest of your home.

Even if you’re doing a pull and replace project, where the layout doesn’t change, your remodeler still needs to plan for how the new materials will integrate with the rest of your home. It’s our job, as design-build professionals, to make sure your new space looks like it belongs in your home, not some other home.

Keep in mind that if you’re getting your design from a cabinet showroom, all you’re probably getting is the cabinet layout, which is different from a comprehensive room design. Often times, contractors who don’t provide in-house design will send customers to a cabinet showroom for a cabinet layout and then pass this layout off as the working plan for the room. Sure, it includes the major items like cabinets and countertops, sometimes backsplashes and flooring if the showroom also sells these. But these designs don’t include many other very important elements like lighting and switching, electrical, plumbing, trim, installation details for tile, flooring, etc.

You’re also limited to the materials the showroom is selling. So are cabinet showrooms bad? Not at all. You just need to know what’s not included in the showroom plan so that you and your contractor can continue planning all the things that were left out.

Contractors without in-house design may suggest you use an independent designer to design your project. This is fine, but make sure the designer designs something that is buildable and that the designer understands the cost implications of the design and selections – beyond the price per square foot of material – so that they are designing a project that fits within your budget.

When using an independent designer, do what you can to ensure the contractor and designer have a good working relationship. You don’t want the contractor and designer sparring over details and who is responsible for the inevitable issues that will come up. We’ve actually passed on projects before that were designed by an independent designer or architect because we knew the homeowners wouldn’t be happy with the project as designed.

So what’s the advantage of a design build remodeler? For starters, your choice in materials is not limited to what a certain showroom carries. Sure, we have our preferred vendors, but we’ll source materials from wherever needed to provide you with exactly what you want. With a design/build remodeler you get an integrated, comprehensive design for your project that is completely buildable, and the responsibility (for design, planning, materials, building, etc) lies under one roof. That prevents you from getting “caught in the middle” when something goes awry.

At Red House Remodeling, before we begin any remodeling project we’ve spent a lot of time with the homeowners getting to know them and their home, planning the project, finalizing the design, making product selections, putting together a fixed price contract, communicating about schedules, and many other details. A tremendous amount of planning and coordinating is done before the actual remodel starts.

If you’d like to begin planning your remodel, click here to schedule a consultation or sign up to attend one of our upcoming Kitchen and Bath Remodeling seminars by clicking here.

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