When people consider undertaking a remodeling project, they might think about sawdust, noise and an attractive result. What they should think about before that is the all-important planning phase, say remodeling professionals.
While it's hard to say what comes first in every case, probably a decision on how much to spend is key. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry lists 10 ways to plan:
1. Research your project. Consumers can make every selection beforehand, and sometimes they still do, but the trend is to work with a remodeling professional who can help with the many options, says Chris Chumbley, vice president and co-owner of USI Design & Remodeling, which has its headquarters in the Dallas area.
2. Plan the project around the long-term. While it's still important to check how your improvements compare to other houses in the neighborhood, some clients are deciding that achieving the results they want may be more important, Chumbley says, especially if they plan to continue living in the house a long time.
3. Set your budget. What you want to spend determines whether you update what you have or work with a professional to create something fresh.
4. Use advanced search for professionals. "You want to figure out who fits your qualifications," says Chumbley. "Find someone who is totally committed to the remodeling process." These companies will have a local office, and they'll have professional trade and Better Business Bureau memberships -- "a very public profile," Chumbley says. "You can look for clusters of accolades," including on the Internet, he says.
5. Ask the right questions. NARI advises you to check out the professional you've chosen by asking about his or her background and any past issues with clients.
6. Verify your remodeler. Check up on license numbers, references, insurance and certifications. NARI recommends a visit to one of the remodeler's active job sites.
7. Review contracts word by word. Resist the temptation to sign without understanding your agreement. Details such as change orders, payment, additional fees, timeline and responsibilities need to be clear in your mind.
8. Keep design in mind. If you don't have a vision, look for a remodeling professional who can help you develop one. Check photos of remodelers' websites for creativity.
9. Make your selections. Dallas is a design center. "There are showrooms that weren't available 10 years ago," says Chumbley. "Nowadays, the market is there to support all of these different selections so that people can look at them and pick what they want."
10. Create a communication plan. Before remodeling starts, everyone should know how, when and how often the remodeler and client will check with each other.
HGTV, Pinterest and Houzz on the Internet inspire many people to start a remodel: "That's the face that people see about a new kitchen, that's the face of the new bathrooms that they see," Chumbley says. Getting that look in your own house requires some homework, a plan and a little sawdust.
Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer based in Cedar Hill.
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