When it comes to a New York City apartment renovation project, the prospect of spending thousands of dollars can be daunting, especially if the project does not come out perfectly the way you desired. The reality is that in most cases, an apartment remodel project is bound to have issues if proper planning is not done ahead of time, and you do not consider the potential setbacks that may occur during an extensive project. So, keep in mind some of these mistakes that are preventable, and will save you a ton of money if you identify or anticipate them early, by mitigating the potential worst-case scenario.
1) Trying To Expedite The Design Phase
Perhaps one of the biggest issues people run into is being impatient during the design phase of an apartment renovation project. The design process is crucial because it is necessary for a contractor and his team to receive proper technical communication about the existing design and draw out steps to a proposed design. While it is not critical to understanding what is being shown on a drawing, it is important to work with your contractor so that his assumptions in an existing and proposed design schematic are correct.
For example, if a homeowner has any knowledge of where existing wires and pipes are in a concealed area from a previous construction project for a bathroom remodel or kitchen renovation, it is important to work with your contractor to eliminate any assumptions he might have if you have better information to provide him. Another example might be if you tell a designer you want a new layout for a kitchen renovation, make sure you ask enough questions about proposed dimensions, and understand any design flaws that might be anticipated. Just taking the time to ask a lot of questions and looking over details of a project can cover up any mistakes or concerns before any work is done, saving much time and money.
2) Trying To Do Parts Of A Project Yourself
Often, when a contractor quotes a homeowner a price for an NYC apartment remodels project, the price tag might scare people into believing they might be able to do parts of a project themselves. While some people may be qualified enough to do this, unfortunately, most people may set themselves up bigger problems working side by side with a professional contractor. The biggest reason for this is when people try to do tasks prematurely or do a task with no understanding of a contractor’s workflow.
It is important that if you do decide to do some parts of the project yourself, disclose to a contractor what you plan to do, and coordinate timelines. Ensure that you will not interrupt a contractor’s schedule and ensure the contractor that you have the skills to do the work you intend to. Alternatively, if it is determined you can do something after the contractor’s work is complete, such as painting or trim work, then just notify the contractor that they will not need to do the finishing parts of the project. More importantly, if you have no experience or do not feel confident in your ability to do work, do not risk ruining the result, and make the investment to have a professional handle the work.
3) Not Hiring A Design-Build Firm
If your apartment remodel is a full gut job, then it is important that you consider professional help when putting together a design plan for your project. The reality is that a lot of these major projects have a lot of working parts that require putting together a full set of design plans for a contractor to use. Therefore, it is important to have a set of design plans that a contractor can understand.
An easy step to ensure a smooth transition between design and construction is to bring in a design-build firm to handle the entire project for you. A design-build firm will bring in a set of designers and contractors under one team so that they can have the proper management team together to communicate vision versus reality. Designers will first work with you to understand the existing space and dimensions of your property and then ensure they capture your visual dream. From there they can take your visions and convert them into designs that they know their contractors can understand that will ultimately minimize any confusion between a customer’s dream and a final product.
4) Living In Your Apartment During The Remodel
While in some cases it may impossible to avoid, a contractor will suggest saving time and money by evicting yourself from an apartment during a full remodel. In cases of simple jobs like a bathroom remodel or a kitchen renovation, there can generally be a workaround if there are multiple bathrooms or a makeshift kitchen space that can get you by for the time being. But if an apartment needs a full gut, then you can lose out on time and money by having contractors stage a remodel.
When a contractor is undergoing a large scale renovation, it is in their best interest to do schedule workflows by task instead of by room. This is particularly important when they must sub out some of their work to other contractors who may be experts. An example might be someone who does tiling and needs to tile a kitchen and all bathrooms in the apartment. If the apartment were vacant, a contractor could bring a tile expert in to knock out the entire job at once. They can save labor costs by setting things up once and save project time by not having to schedule openings to come to the site on several different occasions.
5) Telling Your Contractor What To Do
Another reason why contractors prefer to not work with tenants living in a dwelling during a project is the concern they might constantly be talked to over their shoulders with a micro-manager for the project. In fact, of all the things contractors do not like about their job, this is perhaps their biggest pet peeve. When you hire a contractor, it comes with the understanding that they can their job as portrayed by a customer through design plans and vision. They only want customer input when they truly need it, such as if they are uncertain about something on a drawing, or if they have come across an issue and need to consider an alternative solution.
An example of this might be if they are trying to paint a wall. Usually, they must cut in corners and put on primer before putting on the final coat. Do not go to a contractor in the middle of an interior renovation paint job and say you are not feeling it or do not like the color. Or if they are trying to tile in a corner and have decided to fit into corners a certain way, accept how they are doing it because there may be challenges you do not recognize. It is critical that anything you wish to communicate to a contractor you address in the design phase so they can plan accordingly instead of on the fly.
6) Hiring The Wrong Kind Of Assistance For A Job
A lot of times, customers will hire someone for a job for emotional reasons, whether they know the contractor personally, or are just favorable to have someone who is under-qualified for a job to do it anyways. While it is always a feel-good story to believe people you know can do a job, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will put out the best product. Even if they give you a really good price, a hefty investment even on the low end may demand a perfect finished product that you might not get if you bring in the wrong person.
Always consider a person’s expertise and sample work. If you have a good friend or a good history with someone who specializes in tiling, do not hire them for an interior renovation. If you are considering structural changes to a building, hiring someone who generally works outside of New York City may not be the best qualified, as they may not have a history of working with older infrastructure that exists in the area or the required NYC building codes. Deep down, you want a good product for a reasonable price, even if that means going against people you know who think they can always count on you for business.
Overall, you want your NYC apartment to bring a wow factor, but the reality is that it takes a lot of money to make it happen. While it is tempting to try to cut corners, you do not want to find yourself in situations where the cost matches the product or being mired in a stressful situation the entire time. Always prioritize someone for the job who understands your vision, and that you trust them to bring you the best product at the right place.