Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Contracts - It is very important that you have a contract with your General Contractor and any sub-contractors that you will dealing with for the renovations being done. The contract(s) should minimally include:

·      The work that is to be performed (also what is not included is very helpful, you may be taking for granted that the contractor is doing something and he is not.

·      The time frame for completion. You may also want to include a penalty clause for missed deadline. Any good and reputable contractor would not have a problem with this. 

·      Payment Schedule - make sure to always hold back enough money that would allow you to pay for what is not completed should your contractor not complete the job. Again, any good and reputable contractor would not have a problem with this. 

In addition make sure that they contractor is fully licensed and has appropriate insurance to cover any accidents, and has filed for and received the necessary permits required. This will save you time in the long run and help ensure a smoot(ish) process.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Research is broad based and requires a great deal of time and effort.

You must research materials you will need so that you will understand the various prices and styles of materials you will need. There are many suppliers of materials and different prices; if you look hard enough you will find what you are looking for at a reasonable price.

You should spend a great deal of time researching multiple contractors who will be needed to perform the work. I would also check the Better Business Bureau as part of your selection criteria. Another common sense rule of thumb from my experience:

·      Ask people you trust for references, this is usually a good way to start.
·      If he is willing to start right away be cautious. A good contractor has a lot of work and would have to schedule you in.
·      Check references and visit the completed work site, don’t just rely on a phone call. It could easily be his Aunt Sally you call.

Once know what you want and have chosen a contractor you are on your way to achieving your goals.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Plan - Planning requires a lot of thought and can include many different aspects, such as:

·      Where you will live during your renovation?
·      How long will the materials you need take to arrive?
·      What is the time frame that your contractor has committed to?

Depending on the size of the renovation, such as mine was, you will need to consider if you can live in the space while it is under construction – or if you will have to live elsewhere.

(I would not live here until it was renovated)

In my situation I had bought a sponsor apartment that I knew could not be lived in until it was renovated, therefore I had to time the sale of the apartment I was living in to coincide – as best I could – with the completion of the renovation of the new apartment. If I sold the one I was living in too son I would be without a place and would have to consider other living arrangements.

This also meant I had to "budget" for two mortgages and maintenance payments for a period of time. You will have to consider this when you decide on your budget earlier in the process. You may also want top consider selling first, putting your belongings in storage and staying with a family member or friend. However, that probably has another set of issues to consider.

When you know what materials you are purchasing check with the supplier to see if the materials are stock items or special order. If you are buying kitchen cabinets, for example, they may take from eight to twelve weeks for delivery.

In regards to the contractor, with all the best intentions he can also run into problems. He may lose a worker who quite or takes sick, if the project is outdoors you have to consider inclement weather, and again, you always have to consider the unknowns, such as the rotted wall we discussed in the budgeting post.

The better you plan the more prepared you will be for what may lie ahead.


Budget – Once you have conceptualized your plan for renovations you need to know how much money do you have to spend versus what will it take to get you to your goal?

How much money you have may not get you to your goal. So, you may have to decide the actual dollar amount you can afford to spend, including any debt you plan to take on. Most important as it relates to the renovation is that you must have some reserve for renovation complications. For example, a basic complication is when you are changing a cabinet and you find that the wall behind the cabinet needs to be replaced, or watch the video under the unexpected expense kink. A general rule is that you will always run into unexpected expenses, so always include a minimum of 10% for the things you can't plan for.

There are a lot of useful tools out there to help plan such as – building cost.net. However, I believe in a simple excel spreadsheet which details all my materials and labor costs. You should see what tools are available and use what works best for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Conceptualize Your Renovation

What does it mean to conceptualize your renovation?  Well, that all depends on you. 

This is probably one of the most important steps in your process and a very personal one because it is your space and only you will ultimately know how you will use the space - and what will make you happy. If you are unsure wait until you do know. In fact, many people would advise you to live in a space for up to a year before you decide to renovate. Based on my experience from previous renovations I would have to agree. So, if you are unsure wait.

Some key points to consider:

·      Do you plan on living in the space long term?

·      Is it an investment space that you will rent?

Once you understand your goal the planning phase can begin.