If you’re planning to remodel, you probably wonder how to get the most out of the time and money you are investing.
The type of project you pursue will ultimately impact your budget the most, as some cost way more than others. For example, kitchen and bathroom remodels are the priciest, because they often involve changes to specialized furniture, major appliances, and the services that feed them such as electrical wiring, HVAC ducts, water supply, and drains. On the other hand, “dry rooms” such as living rooms, bedrooms or other spaces where work is largely limited to updating finishes typically cost less to remodel.
Regardless of your project’s scope, there are ways for you to influence its cost-efficiency. By planning around existing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) services, creatively managing light and space instead of knocking down walls, and having a detailed design and budget, you can achieve notable savings on your project.
Does your remodeling project entail relocating fixtures and appliances? If it does, beware - you will have to move the MEP services that these items are connected to. Rerouting HVAC ducts, wires, and plumbing is a highly complex process, which may also impact your home’s structural design. You will have to pay additional design fees and hire specialized contractors to perform the work. If moving a stove or a bathtub now sounds like an immoderate and more tedious task than you imagined, design your remodeling project around the existing locations of your kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
If your kitchen feels too dark or too small, you may consider the idea of creating a larger, open-concept space. Makes sense - knocking down some old walls is bound to introduce more natural light and give you more room to breathe.
While the benefits of a wall removal may be obvious, keep in mind that certain walls are integral to your home’s structure. Known as load-bearing walls, they create a load path for the weight of upper floors. Tearing one down will interrupt the load path and imperil your home’s structural integrity unless you provide adequate substitute supports during and after removal. If the wall you’re about to remove also serves as a “shear wall” - a key component of the earthquake resistance system - you will likewise need to devise a replacement to preserve your home’s seismic soundness.
Load-bearing walls may typically be replaced with beams, or columns, or a combination of both. Either method comes with sizeable costs, and the procedure requires a separate permit from your building authority. Don’t forget that the wall you’re slating for demolition may also house those same MEP services we mentioned earlier, and you will have no choice but to reroute them if you remove the wall.
If tearing down a wall sounds like too much trouble, there are creative, budget-friendly solutions to making your kitchen feel bigger and brighter. For example, decluttering may easily uncover ample, precious space - consider using pegboards, roll-out pantry cabinets, swing-out spice racks, and your window sills for storage. Install a skylight above your cooking or dining space to flood your kitchen with daylight.
Your contractor will price your project based on the drawings and specifications you give them. If these are vague and the contractor has to “guesstimate” during their pricing exercise, rest assured that your quote will come back heavily padded. That’s how it works - contractors protect themselves against the unknown by pricing on the higher end.
You can’t blame contractors for erring on the side of caution. That said, you can help them work out a competitive number by providing a crystal-clear set of drawings and specifications. A sharp quote is more likely to meet your budget expectations and reflect the true cost of your project.
Time is money and having detailed drawings can also save you plenty of waiting time at the building department. By supporting your permit application with plans that make sense and don’t require clarification, you may be able to reduce the revision cycles and get your permit faster.
During construction, vague plans often lead to costly change orders and schedule delays. Ensuring the clarity of drawings during the design phase can help you keep the project on time and on schedule.
The way you approach your remodeling budget can help you economize. Your budget should be a firm, unwavering number and you must strive to meet it at all costs, even if it means making concessions on certain parts of your project.
Areas of compromise should be established well before construction starts. Having an in-depth, line-by-line assessment of your contractors’ quotes will tell you what individual elements of your project cost and help you decide what to splurge on and what to downsize.
If you’re looking for efficiencies in your budget, consider reusing items you already have instead of replacing them. Can you rejuvenate your living room by refinishing the hardwood floors, or do you need new ones?
What about your kitchen cabinets? In most cases, a new coat of stain will give your cabinetry a fresh look. If you do need more storage room above your cooking space, how about open shelves instead of cabinets?
How do you plan to finance your remodeling project? Paying for it with money you already have as opposed to taking out a loan is an obvious way to save. If you want your project to be more affordable and less disruptive to your lifestyle, phase it out over a few years and pay for it with cash.
Our licensed engineers at Design Everest can help you save on your remodeling project without sacrificing your vision. We will help you find effective compromises and produce a clear, detailed set of drawings to ensure a speedy permit application and smooth construction. To find out more, call us at (877) 704-5687 for a FREE consultation and quote.