Where to start? A home remodel and renovation guide

Not ready to give up on your current home? If you love your current home and location but just want it to be more functional or bigger? There are options that can turn your current home into your dream home—a renovation, remodel or an addition may be the answer you are looking for. It’s a favorite past-time activity to dream up what ‘could’ be done to our homes, but many homeowners don’t realize that it is easier to achieve than they may think. Platinum Builders provides expert home renovations & home remodeling and home additions in Downers Grove, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook, Naperville, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, Elmhurst and surrounding towns.
A home renovation or remodel is a great option for homeowners who love their current location and home, but just need that one thing... That one thing could be an additional bathroom, a master suite, more kitchen cabinets, a second floor addition, a finished basement or any number of other possibilities. The terms renovation and remodel are sometimes used interchangeably, but in the general terms renovation means restore to a good state of repair, whereas remodel means to change the structure to create something new. So, a home remodel can include a kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, or even a home addition. Whereas a home renovation can include a kitchen renovation, bathroom renovation and a finished basement. Kitchen and bathroom design is an aspect of the home remodel or renovation, but is sometimes all that is needed to freshen up and update the space.

General Project Managment Steps

  1. Narrow your wants and needs for the project
  2. Research the cost of your project
  3. Find a General Contractor
  4. Examine and verify the estimate
  5. Time to start shopping
  6. Oversee the project from a standpoint
  7. Enjoy the space…
Home additions can be one of 4 types. A conventional home addition is one in which a multi-room structure is built onto the side (or on top) of a house, which is permanently open to the rest of the house. A room addition or bump out is a single room structure built onto the side of the house. A sunroom is added to the side of the house as a supplemental living area usually closed off from the main part of the house with doors. Finally, a garage conversion is simply when an existing garage is turned into a living space by adding flooring, removing the garage doors and replacing with solid walls and installing walls and a ceiling.
Ready to dive in but not sure where to start or what to expect? The differences between a home remodel, home renovation and home addition is vast, but at their core, there are steps to be followed. These can change depending on the scope of the project but for a general reference the following 7 steps will walk through the process of a home remodel or renovation. For more detail about kitchen remodel and renovation projects and bathroom remodel and renovation projects, see our Kitchen and Bathroom pages.

Narrow your wants and needs for the project

"Narrow down what the scope of the project will be by asking yourself what needs to be changed most and what can wait?"

As stated earlier, every homeowner has made a statement similar to "if we could just change 'blank'" about their home. If a home remodel or renovation is imminent, it is now time to hone your vision into a viable one. Visit some social media sites and mark or save the designs and wishes for the new space. Pinterest and Houzz are great places to start. Narrow down what the scope of the project will be by asking yourself what needs to be changed most and what can wait? Think outside the box and don’t worry too much about cost. If an idea is too extravagant, your general contractor will let you know, but you may also be surprised that something that seemed out of reach is attainable.

Home Additions In Downers Grove

Adding an addition to an existing home is a great way to gain space for growing needs. Home additions include adding a second level or expanding the overall footprint of the home. This is a great option if the the homeowner likes the location and home itself, but needs more square footage to accomodate the growing needs of a family.

Plan Notables

  • Demolition/Open current structure
  • Laying foundation
  • Framing new structure
  • Roughing in utilities
  • Finishing outer/inner structure
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Research the cost of your project

"Establish a realistic budget... Add 10% to 15% for any unexpected costs for add-ons or unforseen construction needs"

A frequently asked question is always how much? How much is a kitchen remodel? What is the average cost of remodeling a bathroom? What is the cost of a basement remodel? What is the cost of a home addition? And so on… Before answering how much it will cost, a realistic budget needs to be established. A 10-15% allotment for unexpected costs should be figured into this amount as well. Back to how much the project may cost, visit Remodelings’ Cost vs. Value report, which compares average costs for 22 remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 136 U.S. markets. This site should give a ballpark figure of what the planned project may cost.

Find a general contractor

"Describe your needs, wants and size of project and budget and ask for an estimated range of cost and a timeline for the project"

Finding a general contractor can be a tedious task. With any large investment, it suggested to call at least 3 companies. Sources to find a general contract can be friends and family, neighbors, social media, etc. At this point in the process, design plans most likely have not been made so having each contractor bid on the same scope won’t be possible. Instead describe the needs, wants and size of project and budget and ask for an estimated range of cost and a timeline for the project. As always, beware of any bid that is far above or far below the others.
Additionally, if a designer is going to be contracted, one should be retained at this point. If you have decided on the general contractor, they probably have a designer either in-house or one to recommend—this works both ways, if you have designer, he or she will be able to recommend at least one, if not more, general contractors.

Home Remodeling and Home Renovation In Downers Grove

Home remodels and renovations can do wonders for a homes' overall flow and vibe, as well as add value. But there is also a certain amount of patience and foresight needed, because once the demolition begins, homeowners can second guess their decision and want to rush through and skip to the finish project. Just remember, it has got to look worse before it looks better. Home renovations and especially home remodels are not for the faint at heart. It will be messy, there will be setbacks, but in the end it will be well worth the wait.

Plan Notables

  • Open Shelving
  • Bright Colors
  • Bold Cabinet Colors
  • Full Wall Tile/Backsplash
  • Dual Tone Color Palette
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Examine and verify the estimate

"Make sure to understand the scope of work and the dollar amounts associated, often in the form of allowances (cost per square foot or category)."

The proposal and estimate from the general contractor should detail the project from beginning to end—including construction schedule and materials to be used. Make sure to understand the scope of work and the dollar amounts associated, often in the form of allowances (cost per square foot or category). If something is not understood or missing, this is the time to get it rectified.
Next, make sure it is understood what constitutes an ‘add-on’ and how they are handled as well as how a change order is communicated. Also, be clear on what the warranty on the work is. Typically, remodelers offer a one or two year warranty that covers the work and products and materials installed by the contractor, excluding those already covered by the manufacturers’ or suppliers’ warranties.
Lastly, understand the schedule of payments. Most contractors ask for an initial 25% or 33% of the job cost up front. Then schedule payments will be due at designated completions or milestones. The final payment will be due once the space is livable and has passed all inspections.

Time to start shopping...

"...selections typically include paint colors, cabinets, flooring, countertops, tile, plumbing and lighting fixtures. Make sure to stay within the scope of your desired design and budget."

Depending on the area to be worked on, selections typically include paint colors, cabinets, flooring, countertops, tile, plumbing and lighting fixtures. This is where the pictures and ideas from Pinterest and Houzz will be put to use. Make sure to stay within the scope of your desired design and budget. For more detail about kitchen design and bathroom design, see our Kitchen and Bathroom pages.
Depending on the general contractor, it might be required that all selections are made before construction begins. This ensures that costs and delivery dates are known. Any delay in delivery will delay the project and possibly increase the cost as well. This is by far the biggest mistake homeowners make which is why it is essential to have your wants and needs well defined beforehand.

Finished Basement in Downers Grove

Finishing a basement is unique in that in most cases it is an open canvas to create the desired needs and wants for the space. Finishing a basement can accomodate many needs as well such as entertaining, play area for kids, family living space, etc.

Plan Notables

  • Create layout
  • Frame outside and interior walls
  • Rough in plumbing and electrical
  • Dry wall and ceiling
  • Complete finishing work
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Oversee the project from a standpoint

"Stay involved in the process...make sure everything is being done as planned and also be available for any questions or issues that may arise."

Now that all the prep work is done and all parties agree, it is time to start the construction. The general contractor will let you know the teams start and stop times for working. By this time other essentials have been set such as dumpster placement, determining what areas should be cleared, where materials will be stored, and a key lock may be installed. As always, good communication is key to a smooth project. Stay involved in the process—this doesn’t mean to manage the project, but be involved to a point where you are making sure everything is being done as planned and also be available for any questions or issues that may arise.

Enjoy the space

"Keep a detailed journal describing the issue and location of the issue or use a piece of painters tape to mark the area needing attention."

As the project comes to an end, most general contractors will bring in a cleaning crew for a final clean before the space is ready for the homeowner. This is also the time to go over any incomplete items or touchups with the general contractor. Depending on the contractor, there may be 1-3 punchlist dates set for the future to fix any additional issues and touchups that the homeowner has found. Either keep a detailed journal describing the issue and location of the issue or use a piece of painters tape to mark the area needing attention. It is now time to enjoy your new space and wonder how you ever survived without it!

Home Renovations, Home Remodeling and Home Additions

Platinum Builders is a licensed general contractor, specializing in home renovations, home remodeling and home additions in Downers Grove, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook, Naperville, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, Elmhurst and surrounding towns. If you have any questions about a potential project, please feel free to contact us, we would be happy to discuss the options available to you.

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