Featured Projects - Renovations of the Generation

    Renovations of the Generation

    An 8-part series about the renovation of a 100-year-old historic landmark home!

  • Introduction
  • Design & Budget Estimation
  • Demolition, Foundation & Front Porch
  • Framing & Deck
  • Electrical & Plumbing
  • Tile, Hardwood, Fixtures & Finishes
  • Punchlist and Move in
  • Lessons Learned

Renovations of the Generation - Part 2: Design & Budget Estimation

Today’s housing market has creating challenges for homeowners seeking to cost-effectively build and maintain home value through improvement projects. As a result, homeowners are dedicating more due diligence in the early stages of improvement projects to understanding and controlling design plans and costs. This part covers design and budget estimation and offers several helpful lessons learned from Brian and Jade’s current bungalow renovation.

After purchasing the bungalow in 2007, the previous owners shared a partially completed design plan with the new owners Brian and Jade. From a design and budget perspective, Brian and Jade wanted to softly inject more modern day amenities while maintaining the home’s historic feel. Jade’s background in interior design highlighted the importance of upfront project planning; however, major renovations can be a big undertaking and provide new learning’s for anyone.

  • Challenge the Design: Don’t be afraid to deviate from plans. Brian and Jade thought they could leverage the previous owners’ plans, but realized that they could not accomplish their design and budget goals. Therefore, they deviated from the plans with a new approach which was more cost-effective and maintained the historical integrity they desired.
  • Live in it to Fit in it: Before initiating the design plans, Brian and Jade decided to live in the home for at least one year. This was difficult because they were both anxious to get going and start the renovation for their dream home; however, the purpose of this was to “acclimate” to the house and take into account any changing design elements they may have been influenced by the personality of the home and community.
  • Create a Detailed Design Plan: From the position of lighting and light switches on walls to trim style and materials, there are so many details to consider in the design plan. Therefore, make sure you include as many details in the plan as possible to avoid overlooking anything. In addition, make sure you routinely visit onsite location to monitor activity and ensure that the design plan requirements are being followed by the builder – don’t leave anything to interpretation.

Budget Estimation
All renovation or remodeling projects require homeowners to have an estimate of project costs and a budget to support the completion. To this end, planning ahead by finding and hiring the right contractor, comparing products, and making decisions based on value and quality and not just price all play vital roles in managing project budgets. Here are a couple of important factors Brian and Jade recommend based on their budget estimation and overall upfront project decision-making.

  • Agree on Schedule and Offer Incentive Plan to Builder: Projects often never go perfectly as planned, but it’s important to get buy-in from the hired contractor to set expectations on project timing. This was important for Brian and Jade, who are living in a rental until their home is completed. One way to motivate this is to offer an incentive to the contractor for completing project or perhaps phases on time and under budget.
  • Create Micro View Estimate: Look for contractor to put estimate in “chunks” rather than one big lump macro view. This allows the homeowner to more easily make a decision on what to cut out if needed. For example, what is the impact of cutting $5K from the bathroom?
  • Invest in Attorney to Review Contract: Contracts can be often be overwhelming and complex, so it’s a good idea to have your attorney review so you are protected and understand clearly what you’re entering into with project. For major renovations, there are county codes and regulations that attorneys can help provide guidance to avoid any potential issues on the backend.

Up Next - Demolition, Foundation & Front Porch!