8 Ideas to Make Your Home Renovation Project and Remodeling Planning Process Easier

Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

Oct 13, 2020 - 5 min read

8 Ideas to Make Your Home Renovation Project and Remodeling Planning Process Easier

If home renovation or home remodeling plans are in your future, you’ll want to read on! There are ways to make the process easier – and common missteps that can inadvertently make the process more difficult. Over the past thirty years, the team at Morgante Wilson Architects has been involved in countless home renovation and home remodeling projects, helping our clients achieve their dreams of new kitchens, bigger family rooms, nicer bathrooms, larger garages – the list goes on. Here, eight of our best, time-tested ideas for the smoothest home renovation or home remodeling experience possible:

Trust your team

This may sound like a no brainer, but when their hard-earned money is on the line, many people find it difficult to give up control of the process. Yet the ones who are able to let their team do their best work are the ones who are happiest with the end result. Do your homework upfront to find a team you can trust, including your architect and your builder, and then cede control so they can do their jobs. It’s just about the most important thing you can do.

Make a communications plan

Let your team know whether you prefer to be reached by telephone, email, or text. And then ask them the same questions. That way, you can devise a communications plan that works well for everyone, enhances decision making, and has the greatest potential to allow for thoughtful conversation that is unlikely to be hurried, interrupted, or distracting.

Be a good player

This is one of those intangibles that make a real difference as to whether or not a project is delivered on time and on budget. Your team consists of your architect, your builder, and you. Make sure you remain in alignment throughout the process. Refrain from pitting one team member against another. Communicate. Set realistic expectations. And always remember your team’s common goal is to treat each other fairly to achieve a successful outcome.

Be decisive

Renovating a home is likely to be a one-time experience. So it’s understandable you’ll want to take your time investigating options and making decisions. That’s all part of the process, and it’s certainly a big part of the fun. But take too long to decide which light fixtures you want to hang over your kitchen island, or which paint colors you want on your walls – or worse, change your mind every time you go online and find something new that appeals to you – and your project can quickly spiral out of control. Materials will get ordered late, which means subcontractors will have to be rescheduled, which leads to long delays, which can cause timelines and budgets to go awry….you can see where I’m going here. Our advice: select what you love and don’t look back. It’s the best way to keep your project on time and on budget.

Plan for contingencies

No matter its size or scope, we always recommend adding a contingency of ten to fifteen percent into your budget. There’s an undeniable excitement about pursuing your renovation dreams; put a little extra into your budget, and you may be able to pay for that swoon-worthy thing you found last night on Pinterest after all! (Your team doesn’t need to know the contingency is there. Rather, it’s to allow you to splurge when you feel you simply must.)

Don’t skimp on infrastructure

The hard truth is that a significant portion of your budget is going to be spent on stuff that’s not sexy, and that no one will ever see. Things like mechanicals, heating, plumbing, electrical, and insulation rarely get anyone’s blood pumping the same way kitchen countertops do. Yet they’re the critical building blocks of a well-designed home. Be certain to allocate enough money for infrastructure to ensure your home is going to work the way you want it to for many years to come.

Feed the crew

Contractors and subcontractors will be delighted to show up at your house to find coffee and doughnuts waiting for them once in a while. You’ll be amazed by the amount of good will that one simple gesture will generate. Demonstrate you care about the crew working for you, and they’ll go the extra mile for you every time.

Move out

This is a nice-to-do, not a must-do. The noise, dust, disruption and commotion that come with renovation can be minimized, but not eliminated. You know yourself best; if it’s going to cost you your sanity, you may want to consider a short-term rental. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the journey. Bond with your team, marvel at the progress from day to day, and know that in the end, it’s all going to be worth it!

Morgante Wilson Architects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Ravinia, Wilmette and Winnetka – along with Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson