A lot of our rules and norms seem to be shifting right now, which can be challenging for anyone who likes consistency. While so many things are in flux, however, I am happy to share the following 6 tried-and-true rules I have discovered over the past 30 years of working with clients:
1. Be clear: Be clear on your wants, needs and scope of work – this will save you time, money and stress. Unless you have unlimited funds, there will come a time when you have to compromise on your project due to finances. It will come down to your wants and needs. What do you need to remodel so it is a success in your mind?
2. Determine your budget: Of course, you know what you want to spend. However, most projects have two budgets: the first budget is what you would like to spend on home remodeling. The second number is the most pain your budget can handle and still survive the remodel. Let your team know your true budget so they can help you achieve your goals.
3. Have a contingency: A built-in contingency for your budget will help you sleep at night during the remodel. A contingency is a part of your budget, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10% of the total, that covers all the surprises that can happen during home remodelling. When you have a contingency built in, it makes it easier to roll with those surprises.
4. Be realistic: The more we are upfront about the numbers before a project begins, the easier the whole process is. This entails being realistic about construction costs and all fees associated with design and construction, such as the architect’s cost, planning and permit fees, school and fire fees, development impact fees and construction costs.
5. Understand the process: This also prevents surprises. There are steps to the design process (schematic design, working drawings and construction observation), permit process (initial submittal, plan check, permit approval) and construction.  Every step should be on a timeline or schedule. How a project moves through the process is a direct reflection of your team and their dedication to delivering quality services. It can cost you a lot of money to hire a team that is not dedicated to you and your schedule.
6. Establish budget, timelines and procedures: This takes all the rules above and applies them in one mega rule.  Establishing budgets, timelines (with milestones) and procedures will help you save you time, money, and stress throughout the remodeling process.