The Anatomy of a Remodel
What to expect from your remodel/home improvement project
While every home is different as well as every project, each project follows a progression that is pretty typical. We call it “The Anatomy of a Remodel.” At Beyond Paint one area we strive to provide excellent service is through client education. This document was written to assist you, our client, to understand the progression of a typical remodeling project.
Before the project begins….
Determine your budget
A common misconception is that if the contractor knows your budget they will run the bill up to the limit. We strive to work with all our clients and educate them about product selection. It is easier for us to work with you if you have a rough idea of what your budget is. The product we provide is education, SERVICE, and a quality finished product. The value we provide is not just a fabulous finished product, we strive to also provide you with a good experience through your home improvement.
We are also very happy to provide different options at different price points so you can select what options are important to you.
For instance, one client wanted all new interior doors (and he had A LOT of doors). We provided 3 options because he had no idea what interior doors cost. The least expensive was hollow core, painted doors - $2800. The middle option was solid wood doors, painted - $4000. The third option was solid core stain grade hardwood doors stained and then finished with polyurethane - $8000. We are happy to option out 2-3 types of products so you can work within your budget to get what is important to you. This client wanted the sound barrier that the solid core provided but couldn’t swing 2x the cost for the stained doors. We also are happy to teach our clients why certain options cost more or less than others. The stain grade doors have much more expensive wood and take 3 - 4X the labor to finish.
Dream vs. reality.
In the beginning it’s better to select your “dream” remodel in order to discover what the dream project costs. We can easily direct and guide you to help you get that dream look without paying a nightmarish price.
Once you decide to move ahead…
For projects under about $10,000 we can go ahead and schedule your project and get things moving if you choose to use the Beyond Paint team.
For larger projects we will need to have you meet with our project managers, designers, and vendors and are happy to schedule all those appointments for you. Expect anywhere from 3 to about 7 additional appointments to finalize plans for your project.
To start, even before your project begins, we like to have most major decisions made to avoid budgetary overruns. One of the most important factors in this is to have most of you finish products selected and on site even before the project begins (if they are not stock products from a big box store). For example, we like to have all fixtures (plumbing/electric) available because the size and type of these fixtures will affect where we rough in you plumbing or electric.
On one occasion a designer ordered some light fixtures and mirrors for over the vanity area. We started the project without the fixtures and mirrors on site so did not have access to the specification sheet and the actual real size of the mirrors and fixtures, in short, we guessed. Well…..the mirrors impacted the back splash because they were so big. The backs plash had already been installed. We could have easily altered the tile backsplash BEFORE it was installed and adjusted if we had the mirrors on site. In addition, because we guessed at the placement, we ended up moving the electrical boxes for the vanity lights 2 or 3 times. Each time was an expense for the homeowner. This could all have been avoided had we waited 1 week to start the project until the fixtures came in.
On two other occasions (2 different kitchen projects), the homeowners did not make the final appliance selection until after the cabinets were installed. I know it seems like some decisions can be made late in the project, but it’s just not the case. In both instances we did not have access to the specification sheets during the cabinet and countertop install. For one remodel the range did not fit (it was ¼” larger than standard) and on the other the refrigerator did not fit. When the door opened it hit the corner of the counter. Both issues required retrofitting counters, relocation of electrical, and other expensive change orders that could have been avoided if the selection was made at the beginning of the project and we had access to the specifications.
So…I know sometimes it seems like a good idea to start a project ASAP. At the beginning you will want to see progress, however, often we don’t finish any sooner and you have to live in a construction zone longer than necessary. Assuring that major design decisions have been made and that all the special order parts are available to us will often lead to a much shorter project for you. We find that employing this practice ultimately leads to a more positive experience for our clients.
Once we start…
When the project begins, demo comes first. According to the home improvement shows, any Joe can do demo and it is accomplished with a big sledge hammer. This Is far from the truth. Demolition is selective deconstruction. We are very careful and meticulous about certain aspects. More damage can be caused because homeowners don’t know that what is important to leave behind and what needs to be removed when they try to save $$ by doing their own demo. It is OK to do your own demo, just keep in mind that sometimes more damage is caused and we have to charge for the necessary repairs. Sometimes the cost of those repairs is more than was saved by DIY demo.
This is the best area to discuss budgetary overruns. I know it is at the beginning of the project and may seem counter intuitive. We know that every project from $3000 and up goes over our initial estimate by about 10% to 15%. We know on every project we will encounter the unexpected. So…..expect the unexpected….ALWAYS. For those highly analytical types that have questions about every possible scenario, all we know is that we will find something and after crunching 10 years of number on project overruns, it is almost always 10% - 15%. That’s what we can predict, so… set your budget slightly under what you can pay for your max amount. If it is a $20,000 project, don’t spend right up to that amount on the front end, save out about $2500 for those unexpected expenses.
I really don’t like the home improvement shows that make drama out of this. It happens on EVERY project, we know it, we have analyzed it, have a formula for the approximate costs, and we can fix it.
Now….I put this in the demo section because a large majority of the time this is when we discover the unexpected. We like our clients to set aside some time to meet with us after demo day 1 or 2 so we can walk you through what we find after demo. It only takes about 30 minutes usually, but we often need some input from you to help guide us about your desires.
After demo……the dreaded CHANGE ORDERS
The next steps depend largely on your project. You should have a fairly accurate timeline from us already. Some projects are 3 days and some are 4 months. Few should be longer than that.
While in the midst of your project is often when the other budgetary changes take place. Once things start and you can start to see and visualize things come together, you will probably want to make some changes. We call these change orders. Some change orders don’t add time or expense to the project and are simple. Most change orders at this point will add some time and $$$ to your project. Please keep in mind that almost every time you change your mind, the project will take longer. Depending on what is added will extend the project from 1 day to a couple weeks. Again, we don’t know what you may change, we just know there will probably be something.
At this point things usually clip along pretty uneventfully.
As things come near completion…
When we are 50% finished it will look like we are 80% finished. Many folks get into a psychological trap here and think things will finish ahead of time. Just beware please. All the little finish detail work takes A LOT OF TIME. Please refer to the project completion date discussed at the beginning and also keep in mind the magnitude of change orders that happened. Sometime around the time we are 50% done you may go through phenomenon we have termed “construction psychosis.” It’s not a bad thing….it just happens. Let me walk you through it.
The paint goes on the walls, cabinetry gets installed, and things look pretty close to being done. Strangers have taken over your house. You haven’t been able to use your kitchen or maybe a bathroom. You are sneezing like a machine gun because of all the dust. Even though there are plastic dust shields, you wonder how in the world so much dust can be created. Beyond Paint team members arrive between 7-8 EVERY morning so you can’t even just relax and run around in your underwear if you want! If you were a comic book character, the bubble over your head would read “KER PLOW” or “BAM” when thinking about possibly taking out your frustrations on all those workman making noise.
You think it must only be a few more days until they are done. The reality is that at this point we are only 50% finished. We still have to install all the wood trim, install the finish electrical (fixtures, outlets, switches, etc…), complete all the finish plumbing, install appliances, tile the back splash, install cabinet hardware, install towel bars, finish and caulk all seams, put up register covers, and on and on. It’s just very time consuming to complete the finish work! And…you just don’t see how things can take sooooooooo long! That’s where the "construction psychosis" creeps in. Just let us know about your frustrations, we’re used to it and can talk you through what is really left to do.
Completion of the project…Touch up and Punch List
After we are “done” with your project we are really not “finished.” We still have to clean, do touch up paint, and perform your punch list items. How this works is as follows: For most projects in excess of $20,000 we will hire a cleaning crew to come in and clean up the construction mess. Despite our best efforts, dust gets everywhere! When you move back into the space you will ding and nick the paint on the walls. After living in the space for 2-3 weeks you will notice some little items that we overlooked because we don’t live in the space. We call these touch up or punch list items. We will give you a roll of blue painter’s tape to mark these areas. In addition we do ask that you e-mail us your punch list items. About 2-3 weeks after we are “done”, we will come back to “finish.” We will schedule 1-2 days to come back and take care of the paint touch up and all the punch list items and get it all done in one shot. We leave a small balance on the invoice open ($300-$1000) to be paid after the punch list is complete and we perform a final walk through with you.
Now you are finally really FINISHED. Please enjoy your space and thank you for allowing us into your home!
Johnnie and Sam with our daughter Jessica.