This time of year, many people are planning their projects for the coming season. With windows open, frost melting and sunshine creeping back into our lives, motivation is high. While projects, big or small, might seem easy peasy, the truth is many projects turn into far more than you’d expected. Managing those expectations and planning properly can help mitigate symptoms of project pressure.
So we sat down with Kelsey, our interior designer at Green Design Center, looking for advice on how to make sure your plans go smoothly this year.
So Kelsey, the spare bedroom needs paint, flooring in the breezeway needs to be updated and I need to replace some drywall in areas of my home, amongst a myriad of other small to-do’s. How do I prioritize what should be done first? I’m up to the gills!
- Prioritize your projects but know that starting one project might open the door to tackle something lower on your list. For example, if you are looking to replace/repair drywall, it makes sense to address the insulation in that wall. Other things might not be by choice. If you are changing your kitchen cabinets, electrical and plumbing elements might need to be addressed to bring everything up to code. Making sure that everything is done correctly and in order, while addressing any additional components to the project, will make sure your project is successful. Nobody wants to do a job twice, so making sure it’s done right the first time to the best of your or your contractor’s ability is important.
THE SCOOP: Scope. Figure out what needs to be done overall, and then put them in order as far as what has to come first.
What things should I consider or expect before undertaking all this?
- Have everything on hand before you start. Nobody likes going to the hardware store 3 times in an afternoon (although we’ve all done it). Oftentimes, some products are not available right away or need a fair head start before their use can come to fruition. Make sure you have all of the plumbing pieces for the new faucet you need before you start taking apart the current one. Inspect your tile to make sure none of the pieces broke in shipping and get them replaced before you begin the project. Open and inspect all your products and make sure you understand their proper usage. If not, ask the questions!
- Also, expect the unexpected. Opening up walls or removing flooring can uncover problems you didn't know you had. Have some wiggle room in both your budget and your timeline, because as we all know, some (most) projects do not go exactly according to plan.
THE SCOOP: Prepare. Make sure your bases are covered before you run head first into a project.
Who should I call first when planning something I know I cannot DIY?
- Make sure you are talking to the correct professional for your project. Not every designer should be making recommendations for moving walls, and not every architect should be making recommendations for the best type of flooring for your needs. Research your people and make sure they feel comfortable doing what you’re asking them to. Having confidence in your professionals can make your project go much more smoothly. If you trust your contractor or designer, leaving some details in their hands can take a load of pressure off you.
THE SCOOP: Call. Contact someone who’s job it is to help with the process, such as a contractor, designer, architect, builder or brother-in-law.
I have found labor to be the most expensive part of my project. Any recommendations for success as a do-it-yourselfer?
- Read the instructions thoroughly. Not only for the installation but also for the preparations and any final steps.
- Consider hiring someone as a consultant to answer any questions BEFORE you begin. Troubleshooting from the middle of a project is difficult for anyone who has not been directly on the job site regardless of their experience.
- Know that bringing in a professional to fix or finish what you started may be more expensive than having them do it in the first place. Research and plan for common issues while installing or addressing certain aspects of your project.
THE SCOOP: Prep. Prep, prep, prep, aaaaaand prep. Ask the right questions before you’re elbow deep in plaster.
What should I do if my project suddenly becomes bigger or more expensive than originally thought?
- There is no good answer to this. Hopefully by having all of the materials on hand before you began brought awareness to some of the finer details that may have been missed. At this point you can decide to postpone the actual start of the project until the funds or timing work out, or do the best you can with what you’ve got. If you’ve uncovered a problem you didn't know you had, its time to start from the beginning and reprioritize what needs to happen. Hopefully you left some wiggle room in your budget and timeline. Be patient with yourself, you can only do so much!
THE SCOOP: It happens. Breathe, think, and then plan what is possible for the absolutely necessary portions of your project.
So maybe some things get slated for next year, maybe with the right motivation, time, and finances, you’ll get everything finished according to your heart’s desire. All in all, the recurring themes here seems to be managing your expectations and planning to the teeth. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and crush the development stage of your projects, but remember to be honest with yourself on what is accomplishable and what is not. Thanks Kelsey!
Join us the next couple weeks with part 2 and part 3 of
Spring Ahead: Project Priority
Next time we'll be exploring helpful hints on working with contractors!