You just began the mother of all fixer-uppers. This isn’t just any normal renovation. You’re looking at Mount Everest. The task seems impossible, but it’s got to happen. You can do this all by yourself, right? Wrong.
With any large-scale construction project, you’re going to need help. Help from friends that know their way around a tool-box can help, but for anything other than a small renovation, you’re going to need professional help. This can be extremely difficult considering the housing crisis that millions of Americans are suffering through right now, but if you look at the price tag of hiring a professional as a long-term investment, it makes more sense. Your house is a commodity, and probably the greatest asset you currently own, so you might as well treat it right.
Having said that, if you feel comfortable working on a “Do It Yourself” project, than by all means, go for it. Just be sure to understand you will be working in a hazardous environment, which, without the proper knowledge, can quickly go awry. Every step on a construction site can put you in danger, from loose wiring to heavy construction problems to lead paint (especially with an old house). This can not only cause health problems, but also monetary problems.
If you go with the professional route, there are a few things you must do to ensure that you stay within your budget while also coming away with an establishment that you’re proud to call yours.
Before even touching a hammer, you must construct a well-thought out budget. This isn’t some willy-nilly number that you just throw out for the sake of having a budget. You must consider all factors, such as construction costs, labor, materials and the all important “rainy day” fund, just in case unexpected costs pop up (which they typically do).
Once you have a budget, think of a wish list that you want for this dream home of yours. It’s easy to dream, but don’t go overboard. Keep your budget in mind, then imagine living or working in said establishment. Think about design aspects that will not only create a better living environment, but will also raise the value of your home. This can be formulaic, but the design of your building should not just be about raising the value of your establishment. It should fit the needs of whatever you are doing, and make you comfortable at the same time.
The professionals come in once the wish list is finished. Take what you have designed and show it to either a design-build firm or an architect. They will tell you if your designs, like that tiger cage in the back yard or the secret room that only you know about, are feasible. The design-build firm will be able to throw out some ideas and give you a relatively accurate idea of how much your plan will cost, while the architect will give you the full blueprint of the property, along with building materials needed, construction time, etc.
Before you start the process, though, make sure the architect or design-build firm actually hear what you want to build. Architects and design-build firms often suffer from selective hearing, which people fail to realize until it’s too late. They also do everything in their power to go over budget. Remember, they’re a business, not your friend. Put everything in writing, including your wish list and budget, and make them sign it. It won’t ensure full cooperation, but it will certainly help.
When you begin the actual building process, make sure to have your designer/ architect take you step-by-step through the floor plan. Don’t be embarrassed to ask as many questions as you can. This isn’t your profession. It’s theirs, and they’re getting paid to do it. You should be completely clear on every aspect about the floor plan, from the construction crew, to safety procedures on the site (ask how they handle hose protection, for instance) to where exactly that fireplace is going and how you’re going to mount a television on that wall. If they’re good they’ll help. If not, can them and get a new crew.
Furthermore, if they don’t provide you with renderings, ask for them. 2-D layouts of 3 dimensional buildings are confusing, and often misleading. Most architects use computer software to create renderings these days anyway. It will help you understand the process much more if you know what you are looking at.
Once you see these designs, take your time to consider if that is what you really want. Architects will try to push you on concepts that they draw up, mostly because they don’t want to do it again. Don’t be afraid to take your time, sit back, and decide if that is what you really want. Get a second, third or fourth opinion. The more time you spend looking at a design, the more you’ll begin to see the minor aspects rather than the “big picture.”
After you look at the design, go back and look at your wish list and your budget. Does it all match up with the rendering? Is EVERYTHING in there? If it’s not, go back. If it is, it’s time to build.
When the building process, make sure you are on hand for any accidents or inquiries you might find. Something will go wrong, something will look different than it did in the rendering and something will look worse in reality than it did in the rendering. Don’t be afraid to make an on-site decision. If a roof is too low or too tall, tell the architect. If that secret room you made doesn’t look too secret anymore, tell someone about it. Furthermore, if you see something that could lead to an accident, tell the contractor about it. For example, if you are in Louisiana and see your construction company using a makeshift cable ramp, look into Louisiana cable protection companies. This is your money. Don’t be afraid to tell whoever is spending it to do it right.
Redesigning a building is one of the most challenging experiences someone will have to go through. It’s hard on the mind, body soul, and most of all, wallet. For most people, doing it yourself simply isn’t feasible, nor should it be. But the end result is worth it, if you do it right. And if you follow these steps, it should work fine. Now go out, build your house, and have fun in that secret room.
You can be first to leave a comment