Overcoming Remodeling Anxiety

Just recently I have been working on my own project at home. Between my wife and I, we realized how much anxiety this undertaking creates.

First of all, one must develop a budget to decide how much you want to spend and how much you can afford to spend. There are two different concepts here. And believe me, it will take more than you want to spend. At least, it seems that way with many of my dealings in the industry over the last 35 years.

You might ask, how do I set up a budget? If you have never done a project before, at least on a home, I suggest you explore Remodeling Magazines' Annual spread on Cost vs. Value. You can find it on the web at At this site, you will be able to see what comparable projects are costing in your area. If you get to the point where you figure the costs are too high, then you may want to reconsider doing the project.

The next step is to accumulate ideas as to what exactly you want to see as a finished project. That means a lot of research, running around town and on the Web. This is where much of the anxiety is created. Do you know what you want and do you know what is available? Two very distinct questions. Some individuals can come into our studio and find the countertop they want and the cabinet doors and stain finish they like. Others cannot. If you cannot, then you may need to see some more ideas. Try going to the website Or check out my pages on Houzz by selecting "pro" and then type in my name, Randal G. Winter. Here you will find an overwhelming amount of ideas, but at least, it is a way to start without driving all around town.

Another way to help with the selection process, and it is a process, is to hire an interior decorator or designer if it is interior work or cosmetic in nature. If you want to change the layout, add space or reconfigure existing space then an interior designer or Architect may be your answer. Either way, we offer both these services at our studio.

Or you can consult with a General Contractor, who specializes in the areas you are looking to upgrade, update, redo, etc. If you want to remodel a kitchen, bathroom, add some space, etc. find a few good contractors and pick their brains. They can also give you a good idea of the cost for your project.

The next dilemma is which general contractor should I choose. If you don't already have a gut-level feeling on who to choose, then keep calling and interviewing until you do. Once you have one mind, then do your due diligence. Check them out. If you don't know how, buy my book "How to Select The Right Home or Building Contractor." It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It is a quick read with lots of good information.

To help eliminate most of the anxiety at this point, have a set of drawings made up and make a list of all the items you will need to select. Select all the items you want in your project such as tile, faucets, paint colors, etc. Don't forget to find out the availability of all the items you have selected as this could cause a delay of your completion date.

Get it all in writing once you are going to talk about an agreement (drawings, specifications, schedules for completion and payment schedules).

Don't hire an unlicensed contractor, and don't hire someone just because he/she is a friend or relative. Also, make sure your contractor has all the necessary insurances and references.

And lastly, set a realistic completion date.

For more information or help in hiring the right contractor, consider How to Select the Right Home or Building Contractor, available at


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