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Project Planning

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How to plan for your dream remodel

The keys to any successful home remodel are planning, organization, and communication. The more time and energy you put into your project, both before and during the construction phase, the more time and money you will save in the long run when your job is completed as planned.

Take the time to get yourself organized. All construction projects proceed in a certain order, usually with some logic attached. By keeping yourself and your records in order, you can stay abreast of each phase as it progresses.

Dare to Dream

Gather as many different ideas as possible and talk to others who've done similar projects before trying to define what you want in your project. It's much cheaper to include a bay window in the plans than to add it after the project is completed. Look through magazines and clip out items you like. Keep a journal of different ideas that come to you. Talk to others and get their feedback on whether something will work or not. All these concepts will help you formulate a master plan.

Prepare a Master Plan

Before you call an architect or contractor, sit down with paper and pencil and write down what you really want from the project. What do you want it to accomplish? Just more room, or do you need a specific view from the addition or new house? In planning, think about your neighborhood and how planned changes will fit—or not—with the other houses. If some of your goals are hard to define, sketch out the concepts on paper. Later the architect, designer, or contractor will help you develop them.

Architects and Designers

How do you know if you need an architect or designer? And what's the difference? You probably need an architect or designer if the project requires extensive plans that must be submitted for review or if you are not clear about what you want. Architects and designers are skilled at turning general concepts into reality—all within your budget. If you want, the architect or designer will oversee the whole project, including hiring the contractor.

Define the Project Scope

It's easy to say, "I want this and I want that," but unless you own half of Microsoft, it will likely put your budget out of sight. So the first step is to separate what you need from what you want. You need a new bathroom and you want it all to be in imported Italian marble. But what are the financial realities? The more desires you eliminate, the more manageable your budget will become. Once you refine your budget, be sure to add 20 percent to it to cover the inevitable unforeseen costs.

Create a Project File

Use folders to hold and organize all the paperwork that will be generated during the project. Keep the architect or designer's plans there, along with the contracts, work schedules, payment schedules, warranties, change orders, punch list forms, lien notices, and receipts. Keep phone numbers of everybody involved, from architects to subcontractors, here as well. Review your insurance coverage. Now may be a good time to review your existing insurance coverage and the protection you have, since home improvements most often increase your home's value. In fact, your home has probably been increasing in value since the day you bought it. Your existing insurance policy should reflect this increase in value.

To evaluate your insurance coverage, consider the value of your home as well as the value of the personal possessions in your home. To help with this process, take an inventory of your personal possessions before any construction begins.

Take an Inventory

Both the number and the value of your possessions will probably amaze you. Be sure to write down a list of all your valuables, including any serial numbers. Take photos of all valuables and put the photos in a safe deposit box. The following summary will serve as a guide to help you determine whether your property insurance policy gives you the coverage you need.

Total Value of:

  1. Personal Inventory of All Rooms: $__________
  2. Amount of Insurance: $__________
  3. Difference: $__________

If you find your present coverage deficient, now is the time to get the coverage you need. An insurance review with your agent can help you determine whether your home's value has increased beyond the limits of your current coverage.

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