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Monday, July 4, 2011

5 strategies for keeping you out of remodeling hell

5 strategies for keeping you out of remodeling hell

Who doesn't salivate at the thought of a sparkling new kitchen or a luxurious new bathroom? But let's get real about home improvements.

Committing to and then living through a renovation is another thing entirely. Taking on a home improvement is no small feat; it requires time, money and organization.

Here are five ways to keep any project, big or small, under control.

1. Prioritize: Clarity on priorities means that, when the inevitable budget-busting options are presented, you'll know how to choose.

2. No "cookies": There's a marvelous children's book called "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," which is about a boy who gives a cookie to a mouse, who in turn keeps asking for additional things.

If you give a contractor (or a spouse or a decorator) the OK to expand the scope of the project once, he or she will likely keep asking to do more and more things as part of the project.

Before hiring anyone write down exactly what you want done. Give copies to everyone involved. This will save money and time. You'll be able to cut short discussions related to work that is outside the scope of your project.

3. Make a Gantt chart: It's a bar chart that shows the general flow of a project, from left to right. Create one by hand, or use an application like Excel or PowerPoint.

Going down the left side, generate a list of tasks required to get the job done, estimate how long each will take and whether any one is dependent on another being completed first. Then put dates across the top of the page. Then simply map out when each task can be done.

Pay close attention to any and all dependencies as the job progresses. You might ask a contractor or outside expert to complete a Gantt chart as part of the bidding process.

4. Make selections in bulk: Designate a few hours on one day to make all of the decisions regarding knobs, light fixtures, door handles, paint finishes, fabric selections and the like, rather than making decisions piecemeal,

5. Project folder: From estimates to swatches, keep it all together in one binder and you'll likely save yourself hours, not to mention blood-pressure points.

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