Friday, September 14, 2007
Detailed planning keeps remodeling on track
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Most clients come to us ready to remodel, but rarely do they come with the project planned.
Two years ago, we met a couple who were ready to start the redesign process on their rambling ranch. The major overhaul was divided into three phases implementing six independent projects over four years.
People do their projects in phases for different reasons. This couple wanted to limit their risk by doing the project on a smaller scale first and getting to know the remodeling process. Also, they wanted to test if the family could live through it; if they couldn't, they could stop after the first phase.
Usually a client comes to us with a rough time frame, but the husband had designed a detailed by-the-week construction schedule.
With a background in professional logistics, our detail-oriented client was so thorough that he blocked out two months just to interview and research contractors. He wanted to find an experienced contractor who would adopt his realistic yet strict schedule. He even offered an incentive plan for the contractor and subcontractors to stay on schedule. If the workers missed the deadline by one day, they didn't get the cash bonus.
The contractor chosen for the job, John Farrell with Alta Restoration & Remodeling in Riverton, says at first the project was intimidating.
"His schedule was very tight and demanding, but he had realistic expectations," Farrell says. "He was tough but easy to work with at the same time. He pushed me to push my subcontractors. I wish I had more clients like him."
The husband and wife avoided the nightmare remodeling projects we hear about by planning ahead and eliminating any excuses for anyone to be off schedule or off budget.
Materials were ordered in advance. Everything — from facets to paint colors— was finalized well before construction started, so when the electrician came he wasn't tapping his foot waiting for someone to pick out light fixtures at the last minute.
But no project goes as planned. You can count on some unforeseen cost in the discovery process.
For example, you don't know what is behind a wall until you knock it down. But even then this client found a way to plan his way out of surprising costs.
"I do my own discovering," the client said. "You can go in and find out what the situation is in advance. Let's say you are going to redo the deck. You can pick up a piece of the deck and see what is underneath it."
This client is an extreme example of how planning can keep you on budget and schedule, but the concept is true for everyone looking to remodel his or her home.
Remember if you want to remodel next summer you have to start planning today. And if you ask this client, you can never plan too much. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.