Steps to successfully planning a construction project. There is a strong temptation to jump straight into home remodeling projects. The sooner it starts, the sooner it ends, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case if essential planning has not been done in advance. Every design professional and contractor runs their business differently, but homeowners often have to follow certain crucial steps to get to the construction phase.
Choose a design professional
To create a detailed plan and scope of work, most homeowners hire an architect or an interior designer (sometimes both). Every company does things differently, and design licenses vary from state to state. Many designers work on projects that do not involve major structural work or extensions, and they also offer assistance in selecting materials and colors. Architects can handle a wide range of jobs, or work only on floor plans and permits, leaving the details of the electrical plan, bathrooms, and kitchen to another designer.
The selection of a design professional usually begins with an in-person meeting. This first stage can last several weeks depending on the number of companies that are interviewed. This is your opportunity to learn about the services that each company offers and make sure they fit what you are expecting. It is also essential that you have a budget in mind for your project and that is clearly communicated to the company you hire so that the design plan aligns with what you anticipate investing.
Create a plan
After choosing a design company, it’s time to start putting together a plan. There are usually at least two, and sometimes three, good ways to achieve your design goals.
The plans are called schematic designs; they usually consist of a rough layout of the floor plan and some simple views of the exterior of the house if there is an addition.
It takes the design professional a while to make them, and typically an extra week or two for homeowners to consider and make decisions. If the project is larger or if the owners want to make additional changes to the schematics, this initial design phase can take several months.
Contractors often become involved in the process once a final schematic design has been selected. You usually have at least a general idea of what your home will look like from the outside, a rough plan, and some preliminary material selections. With all this information, it is possible to make an initial estimate of the cost.
Contractors are often asked to estimate the schematic design as part of the interview process. It can take a couple of weeks to set up the interviews, and you will generally receive the quotes at least two to three weeks after the interviews. In total, it can take four to six weeks to interview candidates and receive quotes.
After that, you may want to call references, visit job sites, or do additional research before making a decision on which contractor to hire.
Go shopping while others are engineering
Do you like to shop or do you hate doing it? This may determine whether or not you hire a designer to help you choose materials. Even those who like to shop can be overwhelmed by all the options and want a professional’s opinion.
Don’t underestimate the number of categories to select from, from doorknobs and windows to countertops and light fixtures. To really control the cost of the project, it is best to finalize every last element prior to construction. This will allow your contractor to price the things you want as well as to properly schedule the purchase of materials based on delivery times.
Allow yourself a month or two to choose everything. While you purchase the tile and wood flooring, your architect or designer will finalize the construction plans, work with a structural engineer on how the project will be built, and fill in the necessary details to obtain the permits. If all goes well, you will work on this step and the previous one simultaneously and finish at the same time.
Get the permits
Depending on the scope of your project and its location, obtaining permits can take a day, months, or even years.
Before applying for permits, you should have an idea of the duration of the process, which will allow you to determine a probable start date for the project.
Permit fees can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on where you live and the size of your project.
Ready, set, go…
Once the plans for obtaining the permits have been submitted and the selection of materials made, the contractor can finish setting prices and draw up a construction contract. If the selected materials cost more than the budget allows, there may be a round of “value engineering,” which means changing the scope of work or materials to reduce cost. By the time the contract is signed, the contractor will have identified the longest-lasting items (such as cabinets, windows, doors, tiles, and sometimes electrical or plumbing fixtures) and may have even commissioned them prior to the start of construction, depending on the project timeline.
By the time all of these steps are completed, it can be anywhere from four to six months (or even longer) since the time when you started talking to design professionals.
The planning process can be long, but each step you take will bring you closer to the start of your project with a clear vision of what is to come.
That initial investment of time means that the entire construction team – the design professional, the contractor, and you – can start the project on the same page with a clearly articulated plan.
This makes it much easier to move forward without any hesitation. With these steps, you can start to plan a construction project today!