Our house isn't a total basket case, but if we did a project a year for five years I bet we wouldn't get it done. Can you recommend a way to create a master plan for remodeling the house? I want to schedule upgrades and budget for them, so I need a plan that has a timeline. Is there remodeling software, or do I need to hire a designer or architect on a short-term basis?
Ralph A. ~ Riverside, California
Hi Ralph, the biggest determining factor with remodeling projects is often budget. I have had many meetings with potential customers who were extremely excited about a possible remodeling project on their home, but when we finally arrived at a cost I never heard from them again. Contractors understand that there are going to be many times that the estimate for a project is beyond the customer's budget at the time. What always drives me crazy is when I don't hear anything back from the customer, or they tell me that the cost is more than they want to invest at the moment, and a year or so down the road I see another contractor working on their house without ever hearing a word from them. I always assume that they were embarrassed about all the work I did for them in preparing estimates, and then they couldn't afford the work so they were uncomfortable calling me again.
My point is, establish a relationship with a reputable contractor there around Riverside, California. I would try to find someone who has been in business for a number of years, which can be a good indicator that they will be around for awhile. Explain your situation, that you are scheduling projects over a number of years and need to budget for them, and also need to know an approximate length of time they might take to complete. If they are a good contractor they should even give you some estimated costs on projects you plan to do yourself. Just make sure you give them a call when the time comes that you can afford to do some of the projects you are going to contract out.
A master plan is something your whole family should contribute to. Sit down and decide what projects are the most important to the entire family, and try to schedule them first. The family might enjoy a remodeled family room or a sun room added on to the home more than they would an extension to the garage or new paneling in your study. Once you get some estimated costs it can help you decide which projects are scheduled first.
When you are planning remember your family is still going to be using the house during the remodeling. Only remodel one bathroom at a time, or if you are going to add a master bath, do that before remodeling the bath you use now.
Simple designs can be done with remodeling software, but when it comes time to do the project you will need working drawings so you should hire a drafts person or an architect. Some contractors have drafts people on staff who can do remodeling drawings. I use DataCAD software, which is fairly expensive and more suited to architects, but there are a lot of remodeling software programs that are designed for homeowner use, and very user friendly. Office supply stores and book stores often have them, and you can also purchase them online. RS Means has a number of books that can help with estimating costs, I use them all the time myself.