Top Ten Remodeling Questions - Tips On The Home Improvement Process

 Home Improvement, Ann Arbor, MI

Answers to 10 Common Home Improvement Questions

When it comes to buying a home, it's all about location... when it's time to remodel your home, it's all about planning. If you've ever had work done on your home, you know the drill. Cooking meals on a hot plate, grabbing food from the fridge in the garage... now those are the trade-offs when remodeling your home. It can be a significant inconvenience, but the payoff can be enormous.

In our 20+ years of experience, we've found that the best approach is to be prepared and plan for contingencies.

If you're considering a large home remodeling or renovation project, we have ten questions to ask yourself (and your Design Build contractor) about the home improvement process.

1. How long will the home improvement project take, from start to finish?

Permitting, inspections and custom cabinetry take time. Sometimes, you won't know how long. Ask your design build team about getting permits, as they can vary depending on your location. You may need to seek approval from neighbors or the planning commission that only meets once a month. The process can take a few days or a few months. Your team should start this process as soon as possible; we make sure to research permits during the design phase. Have an open dialogue with your builder throughout the process.

2. What about the weather?

Rain, snow, heat, cold... when planning your remodel, take into account that you will have workers and materials coming into your home for hours each day during your project. That means if it's summertime and you've got the A/C cranking, you'll be wasting a lot of energy. If it's the dead of winter, it's probably a bad idea to rip the roof off of your house for that new addition.

Plan your remodeling accordingly.  Also ask how your home builder or remodeler is planning on sealing up the house to prevent dust and air loss.

3. How long will it take for materials to arrive?

If you're dead set on that imported French limestone or custom Italian stove, make sure you can wait for it! If you absolutely must have it, bear in mind that your job could grind to a halt if your contractor is waiting for materials to arrive. When you're choosing materials, ask about lead times. And be flexible! If time is an issue, discuss alternative materials with your project designer. 

4. Where will you store materials?

Your builder will need an area to stage your job. The best place is in the garage or driveway; if this space isn't available, you'll need to find a protected area to store materials. If, for example, your custom cabinets are ready and you can't store them, your contractor may have the maker store them - and this can increase cost. If it's a big job, consider renting a portable storage container to hold materials.

5. Will you need to stay elsewhere, and for how long?

Remodeling can disrupt your daily life. It might make sense to stay elsewhere. Hotels can get expensive, and living with family can be an added level of stress at a time you're least able to handle it. 

If you're undertaking a major long-term renovation, like adding a big addition that might take months, consider renting a place. If it's a shorter term and you can't stay with a family or friends, consider renting or buying a small RV or trailer with a kitchenette. It's like having an apartment in the driveway, and when you move back in, you can sell the trailer!

6. Where will you cook and wash dishes?

Can you set up a temporary kitchen in the garage or another room in the house?

You may just need to work with what you've got. Move the fridge to the laundry room or garage. A hot plate, crock pot, and toaster oven in the laundry room or garage can get you through most meals. And don't forget the outdoor grill! Do the dishes in the bathroom sink, or use paper plates. Remodeling is disruptive - make sure that you have a plan.

7. Where will you go to the bathroom?

If you have multiple bathrooms, this won't be a problem, but consider if you'll need to share a bathroom with the kids. Talk to your contractor about portable options if this isn't an option.

8. What about the yard?

It's not just a porta-potty. A major renovation means trucks parked in the driveway, a dumpster, and pallets of materials. Expect a mess, but make sure to discuss your preferences with your builders. An experienced company will come prepared with a plan for all of these items.

Talk to your contractor and know when the city requires trash to be picked up; in some locations its daily, others weekly. And let your neighbors know whats going on! Often your builder will send a letter - but either way, it's the right thing to do.

9. Do you have a homeowners association?

Your HOA or planning commission may have some restrictions or regulations you'll need to follow - for example, if you live in a historic district or planned community.

Check to see if you need to get your design approved or if there are any restrictions on construction. Some HOA or planning boards may also dictate hours your contractor can work or prohibit work on certain days. This can set your project timeline back and should absolutely be considered before work begins. Research this early in the process to avoid delays!

10. Wow, that chop saw is loud! Can you stop while I'm on the phone?

Let's be real. You won't be doing much meditating during your project.

Workers will be coming and going, hammers and electric saws will be continuous! If you work and are gone all day, it's probably not going to be a problem. But if you have young kids at home, or work from the upstairs office, you might want to find a quiet place to go to get away.

Arrange a daily time to sit somewhere quiet. If you're not a morning person, understand that your contractor will be showing up early most mornings. You'll also need to be reasonably available if questions come up. Remember, even if you decide it's time for an extended vacation in Europe while your construction is happening, make sure you are reachable by phone, text, or email throughout your project.

A home improvement project can be a disruptive experience. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed!

However, with a little planning and open communication between the parties, you can make it run much more smoothly. Be prepared and communicate with your contractor. If you take the time before you start and plan your attack, your home improvement project can be made much less disruptive.


Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.