Rule Number 1 when it comes to remodeling: It ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will. And Rule Number 2? Invest in the design work prior to hiring a contractor.
There are several reasons why getting the design right upfront can make your project go much, much faster and smoother than doing the design on the fly.
- Design work takes time, especially if you plan to submit your plans to your local building inspectors for permitting. Getting permits--which we strongly recommend you do--requires a lot of detail: existing and proposed floor plans, interior elevations, electrical/lighting plans, and quite possibly structural engineering plans if the remodeling will include new windows, roofing, or moving load-bearing walls.
- Finalizing plans and specifications will result in more accurate contractor bids. It's so much easier for a general contractor to bid on a project that has completed drawings and all the specs for plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, cabinetry, and materials. As long as he knows what he's buying vs. what the designer is buying, you'll get a very solid cost. And, even better, if you're getting multiple bids, all the contractors will be working from the same documentation to develop their quotes, so you'll be comparing apples to apples.
- Bids coming in too high for your budget? Much easier to scale back in the design phase than once you start building. We often work with clients to "value engineer" a design we've done for them without sacrificing style or function. Often, it's a matter of re-working materials or scaling back on cabinetry, for example. Lots of ways to accomplish the desired goals if we work closely together.
- Having fully developed plans and finish selections before you start means fewer project interruptions. General contractors love working with clients who have already made their selections, right down to the cabinet knobs and the paint colors. It means they can schedule their sub-contractors more efficiently and they don't have to wait around for materials to be installed.
It's always a good to remember, too, that the best laid plans can still run into unforeseen issues, particularly when remodeling. Older homes can have all kinds of suprises lurking behind walls that even the best designers and contractors couldn't have accounted for when bidding and designing. Old, not-to-code electrical wiring is a frequent offender, as are old, degraded pipes that need replacing. Sometimes, an addendum to the permit drawings is all that's required, with the fix outlined and re-submitted.
But perhaps the biggest reason to get your design work done now is that contractors in the Bay Area are REALLY BUSY. It could be months before your contractor is available, given the current demand. So it makes a tremendous amount of sense to get all of the design work done in advance so you're ready to go when they have an opening.
Let us help you get ready for your next remodeling project: kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, additions, or more open floor plans.