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Surviving Stressful Home Renovations

Chapter 6: Deliberate Decisions/Painless Changes.

Changing your mind while renovating.

"While you're at it..."

Somewhere during the process of renovation, you will, inevitably, make a change. And, it is often said that the four most expensive words in the English language are, "While you're at it."

As in, "While you're replacing the old decking, you might as well add a new railing and planters and a sliding glass door, and..." The result can be a job that's way out of whack with the original estimate, and your budget!

Granted, some changes are necessary, even prudent, but knowing the difference between a smart change and one that will bust your budget is an art in itself.

Planning for change

Planning for change. There are two ways to plan for change and both involve money.

First, if you find you have a little more money than your renovation calls for, take that old "best laid plans of mice and men" axiom to heart and set aside some "Eureka!" money. That's cash for the day during your renovation that you suddenly say "Eureka!" and decide you must have, for example, French doors instead of Dutch doors.

A good rule of thumb is to set aside five or ten percent of the total budget for such a change. (If you never use that money, all the better.) The second tip is for when money is tight. Plan your renovation in stages so that you can spread out the costs.

For example, you might not have the money for a patio door leading to a nice deck now, but you know that someday you'll want to add them. Framing for the door and the added structural integrity a deck requires ahead of time will make adding them later a breeze. (Which is exactly what you'll get when you open your new patio door which looks out on your new deck. Hmmm...)

Don't make a snap judgement

Don't make a snap judgement. Sometimes you simply have to have something and you feel very, very strongly about it.

When you sense your voice moving up on the decibel scale, try and step back and understand the ramifications of an expensive change. Sleep on it. Discuss all of the options, calmly with your contractor. And ask yourself if it's a change you really must make.

Finally, work the numbers to ensure that your changes now will make sense several years down the road. Often, a snap decision made for an emotional reason today is one that you and your wallet will regret later.

Stepping up in quality

Stepping up in quality. Sometimes making a small change to a better grade building material can make a huge difference in the life expectancy of your home. But the difference is not always apparent.

It's a good idea to read the warranty for each building product. Find out about weather-related testing. And do the math. Finally, consider how long you'll be in your house and weigh the benefits of durability and added resale value that a better quality product might offer.

Remember: most of the investment in your roof is in the form of installation and labor. Which means it pays to choose quality materials. It's simple math. A roof that lasts thirty years is far more valuable than one which needs replacing in fifteen, but choosing a superior roof only increases the overall job cost slightly.

Stepping down in complexity

Stepping down in complexity. Sometimes the best reason to make a change is to save some money.

One change can save thousands of dollars in both materials and labor. For example, reducing the complexity of your design, choosing windows with fewer features or replacing two working French doors with one working and one stationary door can save in both materials and labor.

But beware, such cost cutting can reduce the appeal of your renovation. Check with your architect and contractor to make sure that the change meets both your aesthetic and your budgetary needs.

Next: Chapter 7: Dealing with Dust

Surviving The Stress of Home Renovations.

Chapter 1 : Keeping The Peace

Chapter 2 : Contract Basics

Chapter 3 : Surviving the Noise.

Chapter 4: The Right Stuff, Not the least expensive

Chapter 5: Living without Utilities

Chapter 6: Deliberate Decisions/Painless Changes.

Chapter 7: Dealing with Dust

Chapter 8: Keeping Track of Money.