By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction
You’ve started to think about a home remodel and it’s suddenly taking up a LOT of your time and is quickly becoming overwhelming. We get it. This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) your full time job!
So this month, we’re providing answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and concerns we hear from homeowners just like you.
Where do I start?
Figuring out the different approaches to home remodeling is key to helping you understand what type of contractor you need. Added bonus? If you’ve already started getting estimates it’ll give you insights into why they may be all over the place. A general rule of thumb:
- A general contractor (GC) will usually focus on the install and execution of your vision, meaning you take on more of the legwork in making design and materials decisions, ordering/buying materials and managing the project yourself.
- A design-build approach means you are guided through your remodel all the way from design to construction with project management along the way. Design-build firms do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. They do, however, tend to focus on medium to large scale home remodels.
What is the cost per square foot for a home remodel?
This is a great question! Like most things in life, there is no simple answer. It depends on the level of service you are being provided (for example, full service design-build vs. general contractor), the level of finishes you want (from cabinetry to countertops to fixtures and everything in between) and the complexity and size of the space or spaces you want to remodel (is that a “load bearing wall” I hear you say?).
How long does a home remodel take?
Ah, yes, queue HGTV. Three weeks and a few thousand dollars, right? Not so fast! If someone tells you a few weeks, run! Designing thoughtful remodels take time. The design phase comes first, then construction. Most of our remodels take somewhere between 8 to 14 weeks depending on the size and scope (and that’s just the construction phase)!
Having realistic expectations about how long your home will be under construction will set you up for success and avoid those “renovation nightmares” you hear so much about. Don’t let anyone start your remodel until you’ve finalized the design and selected all your materials (materials should be waiting on construction and not the other way around). Once everything is ordered and/or delivered and ready to go, then, and only then, can the sledge hammers start swinging!
Do I need a permit for my home remodel?
Permits are like insurance policies; if you don’t have them and something goes wrong, you’ve got no coverage and no recourse. Some remodeling companies or general contractors will tell you that you don’t need a permit. It saves them time and money and allows them to skirt around limitations set by the state as to the size of projects they’re authorized to do.
Bottom line: Don’t let others put the responsibility on you to pull your own permits (again, not a good idea), so ask your prospective remodeling partner this question at the outset.
In Reston, if you are part of Reston Association you will also need approval from the Design Review Board (DRB) for any exterior changes to your home. You do not need approval for interior changes.
What red flags should I look out for?
There are a few:
- The contractor hasn’t worked on a project of similar size and scope to your project before
- They tell you they can get started on construction right away
- They don’t have a well-rounded website with project examples and client testimonials (and/or won’t give you any references to talk to)
- They outsource all of their work to subcontractors and have no in-house team for any aspect of your remodel. Read more in Life Under Construction: Who’s in Your Home?
- The contractor isn’t licensed and insured
Read more frequently asked questions and get the answers you’re looking for! Still not sure what you need? Here are resources to help you figure out what type of approach is right for your remodel and how to find the best remodelers in Reston.