A complete set of plans and specs will eliminate problems and help ensure a smooth project.
Never underestimate the importance of good plans and specifications to a successful remodeling project.
These crucial documents need to be fully completed in order to generate a realistic budget, schedule, and contract, and that’s especially true on a complex job like a major kitchen remodel. Too often, however, the plans are left incomplete.
The plans are the visual representation of the finished project, showing what it will look like after the workers pack up their tools and head home for the last time. The plans include dimensions and other important details that guide the remodeler. They should also verify any regulations that apply to the project—for instance, when adding a second story, the plans would verify the jurisdiction’s height limits. In fact, most building departments want to see a full set of plans before issuing a building permit.
Specifications, or specs, detail in writing what types of appliances, cabinets, fixtures, roofing, siding, and even paint will be used in the home. They may even reference written quality standards. This information helps the remodeler create a realistic budget, and tells the homeowners exactly what they are getting for their money.
Incomplete specs are a common cause of problems between remodelers and homeowners. That’s because so many projects get underway before all items have been fully specified. Perhaps the remodeler didn’t want to make the effort (specs take a lot of work to write) or the homeowners couldn’t make up their minds about certain items, such as the grade of carpet for the new bedroom.
In such cases, the remodeler and homeowners may agree on an allowance amount to spend on each item, leaving the actual product decisions until later. While a few allowances usually aren’t a problem, having too many is asking for trouble. Remember that plans and specs set expectations and provide clarity, so leaving things out is asking for conflicts, delays, and unexpected price increases. The same goes for vaguely written specs—the term “midrange kitchen faucet” could mean different things to the remodeler and homeowners, so the homeowners could end up with a lower quality faucet than they expected or have to fork over $200 more for the one they really want.
A professional remodeler will eliminate these problems by putting in the time and effort required to complete the specs before work begins. That same remodeler will also work closely with customers to make timely design and product choices. Making these choices early requires effort from the homeowners, but in the long run will save them time and money.
Good specs include lots of detail, such as brand and model names, colors, and other variables (for example, a Kohler Veer 21 in. pedestal bathroom sink with 4 in. center set faucet holes in bone white). They may also spell out standards for workmanship, such as detailing the prep work that must be done before painting the trim.
Specs are a complex subject, and this article only scratches the surface. Homeowners can help simplify things by making the decisions needed to clearly define the job before it starts. Take the time needed to fine-tune the plan to exactly what you want. The planning period is by far the most cost-effective and easiest time to make changes to your project. Erasing and moving a line on a drawing costs a small fraction of what it will cost to move a wall once construction is under way, or completed!
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