Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Attention First-Timers: Double Your Estimates from the Start

Some folks will be thinking about their next renovation project before they're finished with their first one.  Others understand that one home restoration undertaking is all they'll ever do.  This advice is for first-timers.  If you're an experienced renovator, this may be helpful, but more than likely you'll be reading along while nodding in agreement as you'll know the advice I'm recommending is valid.  I love to renovate and I want to encourage others to experience the process of fixing up a house as I have.  This advice is to serve as an aid, not a bucket of cold water on a prospective home renovator's dreams.  We have a saying in this industry: if you don't get the foundation right, you'll be fighting the building the whole way.  Think about my advice as a cornerstone for your adventure, keep it in mind from the beginning and you'll have a much better ride.  

Your schedule and budget should be at the forefront of your plans to take on a house renovation project and they should stay with you like a pair of guardian angels until the end.  The duo work together and can drive your project efficiently in unison.  However, if you lack in either (time or money) your project will grind along and be harder than necessary.  If you approach the bank for a loan to buy and/or renovate, one of the first things they'll want to know is how much and how long it will take.  That should reinforce the significance of time and money in construction renovating. 

Be realistic and honest with yourself when you determine the cost and time it will take.  You may be able to roll up your sleeves and put your tool-belt on, you might be in a position to hire most of the work out to others, or maybe it's a solid combination of both.  It doesn't matter, when you renovate it will take time and money so give both of these serious enough attention that you can write the specifics down on paper.  This advice applies to redoing the entire house, remodeling the kitchen, or adding a master suite.  If you're a first-time renovator, acting as your own general contractor, take your time and money estimates and double them before you start.  It's that simple.  If you honestly and sincerely think it will take 5 months and $20,000 then make sure you're ready for a ten month project and have $40K ready for action.  No matter how thoroughly you may prepare beforehand, there will be things that you'll unknowingly leave out of your plans. You'll tear into walls and discover challenges you didn't expect.  Also, you'll likely discover certain tasks are easier than you anticipated and find yourself saying, "While I'm at it I might as well..."  As I described previously you're going to make some errors (see Vinny Had the Right Idea), and quite simply, renovating is a marathon and not a drag race and you're a person, not a cyborg.  You're going to get tired.  All these are factors that will impact your pace and your bottom line so double your allotted time and money from the beginning.

The pair at the end of the clip is a Canadian couple that's renovating a triplex together in Montreal (see Just Two Weeks).  You probably understand it's going to take you longer than two weeks and realize it's more complicated than doubling that and planning on a month.  Really make a wholehearted effort to estimate your time and financial commitment.  Furthermore, don't be mislead by the 30 minute or one hour long reality shows you can watch from the comfort of your living room.  A skilled team of experts with a production crew and corporate sponsorship play a big part in making their schedule and budget more palatable than it will be for a first-timer.    

Finally, work hard to stick with your original estimates.  From the start, be diligent about working to get done using your estimated time-line (i.e. 5 months) and be vigilant about completing things with your initial budget numbers (i.e. $20K).  Give it everything you have.  However, keep in mind that things will happen as they always do, your schedule will stretch out, and you'll get further from that original figure you felt so good about.  It's okay.  That's just how it goes.  Be ready for it and understand that in the end you're going to be closer to my numbers than yours.  I may be wrong, but I doubt it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment