While the economy appears to be on an upswing and interest rates are nudging higher, you are likely asking yourself, do I want to remodel or should I just sell and buy something new? Here are some questions to ask yourself. 

1. Do I want to stay in this home for many years to come?

If you love your location and want to stay in your home, then making some renovations can be a great idea and can increase the value of your home, when you are ready to sell. Kitchen remodels, bathroom updates and even front yard landscaping and driveway renovations (curb appeal) can help you enjoy your home more, and help you sell it when you are ready down the road.

2. If I were to remodel would it price my house out of the norm for other homes in the neighborhood?

This is tricky. We’ve just come through a depressed housing mark and home values are on the upswing. We usually talk to homeowners about the value of the renovation they are doing and what they can expect to get out of it financially down the road.

3. Is it something I can do myself?

Now if you are even moderately handy around the house, you might consider taking on some of the lesser projects yourself.  These might include things such as minor sheetrock repair, painting, and perhaps some landscaping.  But once the scope of the project exceeds this level then pay attention to the little voice in the back of your head or perhaps your significant other telling you that you really should call a professional for this. 

Yes I want to renovate

If you decide you do want to renovate, the selection process begins.  But where does one go to locate someone who will do the job the way it should be done? What are their qualifications? What is their background?  How do I know they are the right fit?  How do I avoid being on one of those consumer protection shows on the news that help out people who have been ripped off? 

These are just a few of the eons of decisions you will have to make in a remodeling project.  But quite frankly, this will be the most important. Actually there are several sources which can help you start this process. One of these and the most often used source is your friends and relatives. According to a recent survey over 70% of people who were looking for a renovation contractor began their search this way.  Obviously, they need to be people who have actually had direct contact with the contractor’s work.  More specifically, the best quality of a referral such as this is someone who actually hired the company to do work for them.  But before you settle in on this referral, be sure to determine the type of project they happened to have had done.  For example, if they had a deck rebuilt, the contractor may have done a great job but if you are looking for someone to redo your kitchen this may not be the best choice.  If the scope of their project was a new roof and gutter replacement then their contractor may not be the best fit for you if you are planning a new master suite addition.  Like most other professions, this is not a one size fits all type of business.  So what do you do if you do not know anyone who has had work done that is similar in scope to yours?  Then you can contact the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders (GBAHB).  Under their umbrella is a group of professionals known as the Remodelers Council.  These companies are specialists in the remodeling industry and are the best contractors you will find. They are keenly aware of the differences between new home building and remodeling and they are typically aware of industry wide trends.

What does design build mean?

Once you get a couple of possible names to put on your list you can begin making the selections.  But wait.  Don’t we need plans before we hire a contractor?  Do we need to hire an architect?  I see some companies that are design build. What in the world does that mean? And, what about the structural issues that may be involved with that rear wall that was built in 1952? You know the one with the large crack that leaks water during the month of February. Do we need a structural engineer?  Here we go again with more decisions.

As you can see there are numerous decisions to make and way too many to deal with here.  So over the next few posts we will answer many of the questions that come up when one decides to do a renovation project. At this point, however I will leave you with this. Keep in mind that in most things you never have to apologize for a good start. The time and effort you put into the process of finding your contractor will go a long way to getting you off to a good start which, in turn, places you on the road to a good finish.  

Darrell Hughes is the President of D. F. Hughes Construction, Inc., a 23 year old design build firm located in Birmingham, whose objective is to provide the most professional and satisfying building experience possible.  He has over 30 years experience in the construction industry in both the residential and commercial sectors. He can be reached at dhughes@dfhughes.com