Planning to renovate? These tips serve as a guide to help think through each step of the project planning process. Each section includes a downloadable infographic summary to use for future reference.
Whether you’re replacing windows or doors, remodeling, or building your dream house, making the first step is often the hardest. We’ve listed 5 easy questions to ask yourself to get your project off the ground and running.
1. How do I want my home to feel?
Define the emotions you want yourself, family, and guests to experience in your home. For example, if you want your home to feel relaxed, select furniture that welcomes lounging with soft, easy-to-care materials. If you want your home to feel hospitable, make sure there are enough “extras” for everyone: extra towels, pillows, and plenty of seating. To feel better protected, include multi-point locking features.
2. How do I want to live differently in my home?
Think beyond your current window and door layout, a renovation project gives you the opportunity to redesign for the better. To maximize light and ventilation, you can replace windows with a patio door or Moving Glass Wall. Or choose innovative window and door handles that make opening and closing easy.
3. Realistically, how much can I afford?
Try to come up with a range of what you're willing to spend that includes an absolute maximum. Once you've established a price limit, steer clear of renovation projects or items that barely squeeze under it. Give yourself at least 10% extra wiggle room.
4. How involved do I want to be in the design?
Some people want to be involved in every single choice. Others want their contractor to explain the options and simply choose. Let your contractor know how involved you want to be.
5. Do I need this done by a certain time?
Or, can I afford to have the work done in the off season? Everyone tends to want work done on their homes in times of good weather. But often you can have more flexibility and the work done more quickly in off-season times.
Choosing a good contractor for your remodel can be as important as the doors or windows you select. Here are 8 simple questions to ask potential contractors before you decide.
1. How long have you been in business?
Experience level is a strong indication of a contractor’s proficiency at remodeling and renovation. Ask about their specific experience with window or door installations like yours over the past year.
2. Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
Often the person who works with you on the bid for the project is not the person you work with once the project begins. Consider asking to meet the project supervisor.
3. Who will be working on the project?
Contractors work in different ways. Some have full-time employees, which is an indication they like the workers well enough that they hire them and that they have enough business to keep their employees busy. Other contractors depend on subcontractors. If so, find out if they have long-term relationships with their subcontractors. The best contractors have dependable subcontractors they call on, job after job. This question will also give you an idea about how big the work crew will be. For the home window installation (or patio door) portion of the project, is the person AAMA certified (from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association)?
4. Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Is your company licensed?
If licensing is required in your state, call to verify compliance.
5. What is your approach to a project such as this?
This is a good question to ask a contractor, because it's somewhat open-ended and gives them a chance to explain their working process.
6. How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
The more experience, the more competent the contractor. Check recent references as you’ll want to know the latest performance, not what a customer five years ago thinks who might have had an entirely different crew than the one you'll see.
7. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
This is a good question to ask a contractor who specializes in replacement windows. Often people have a portion of their windows replaced and then more at a later date. Hiring the same contractor for the second half of the work indicates they were satisfied with the initial work.
8. Are you a member of a national trade association? Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education?
Certification and membership can be an important indication that a person takes pride in their work and wants to be recognized for their capabilities. It's an indication of true professional caliber and concern for excelling in their field.
Your almost there! After compiling a list of your favorite 3-4 contractors run through this pre-project checklist to get your renovation or remodel started on the right foot.
1. Obtain estimates.
Many home improvement experts recommend 3-4 estimates from licensed, bonded and insured professionals.
2. Choose a Start Time
Make sure you understand the project schedule and how long the job will take to complete. Ask your project leader how they plan to approach the project if there is inclement weather.
3. Set an agenda
Set an agenda with the project supervisor that outlines all necessary items, including timeframe, for getting the project done. This helps manage expectations.
4. Get it in writing
A well-written contract is essential to preventing costly mistakes or additions to the scope of your project. It is also a critical step in maintaining your budget. Many contractors require a signed contract before starting work.
5 .Don’t forget the fine print.
Be sure the contract covers everything you have talked about with your contractor. Pay careful attention to how unexpected circumstances, such as dry rot, will be handled and priced.
6. Set a payment schedule before start of project.
In most cases, it is more cost effecitve and less impact on the home to complete the project at one time if it is financially possible. Ask about financing options.
7. Set up Plan B
Many window and door replacement projects take less than a day. If windows are part of a larger remodel, you will want to know how many days your kitchen, or another room, will be out of commission so that you can plan around it.
Once you have set a date for the project, give yourself at least a week before the renovation to get your home ready for the work crew. We’ve listed 5 tips below to help you prepare.
1. Be a good neighbor.
It will get noisy and chaotic in your home, but you’re not the only one affected by it. Even if it may not be required by your Homeowner Association, it is still good practice to notify your neighbors of the impending project. It doesn’t change anything, but just knowing what to expect may lessen the annoyances.
2. Designate a work space
Set aside a designated area for the work crew. They may need more space than the room they are working in. If you can spare extra space in the garage or an extra room, it will help them set things aside, place their tools, and gather to discuss the work.
3. Clean, clean, clean!
Box up, recycle, donate or throw away anything that can be moved from the remodel space. If left there, you risk getting your things damaged or lost in the debris.
4. Take care of valuables.
Remove all necessities and valuables from the work area so you have better access to them and so they won’t get damaged. Contractors are used to working around furnishings, but it never hurts to give them more space and take extra precautions.
5. Take safety precaution for pets and small children.
Make plans to keep pets and children as isolated as possible from the work area. While contractors are used to working around people, distractions such as children and pets will only slow the job down and could even prove dangerous.