In any project, you are likely to encounter five distinct stages of remodeling: planning, budgeting, demolition, construction, and cleanup. With the choices you make at each stage, you can keep your project on track, on time, and on budget.
List and prioritize your wants and needs. Later, after you've made your specific materials selections, stick to them. Changing your mind about minor details—this faucet or that door hardware—can cause major delays. Hard-to-get subcontractors may have to be rescheduled, and materials reordered.
Ask a couple of architects or contractors for a ballpark estimate on your project. Most should be willing to do this for no fee. You also can ask neighbors and friends what they've paid for similar work. But remember that costs can vary considerably by location. Market prices for construction materials can change quickly, too.
The 10 percent to 20 percent fees that architects, kitchen and bath designers, and other design professionals charge may seem like unnecessary costs. However, such experts often catch problems that even experienced contractors or do-it-yourselfers miss.
Regardless of the type of professionals you hire, ask for formal and detailed bids, as well as licensing and references.
Removing such elements as walls and wiring, carpet, and flooring can be tough and dirty work, but you'll likely save money by doing demolition yourself. This stage may be shorter than actual construction, but just as disruptive to daily life. Make sure to take breakables off walls, and protect furniture from dust and debris.
If your project is a large one, you might want to consider moving out of the house. Temporarily living without cable TV is one matter; living without electricity, heat, or water for even a few days is altogether different. Ask local hotels to quote you a weekly or monthly rate, find a residential or extended-stay hotel that typically serves business clients, or look for an apartment or house to rent for a short time.
The work is almost over. Now, someone has to remove the dust and debris before you can enjoy your newly remodeled home. Like demolition, this is labor-intensive work. Offset other costs by doing some of this yourself.