As professional remodeling contractors, we get many potential clients who need guidance on home improvements both pre and post purchase of a home.  Most of the time these types of projects require quick thinking and a fast moving turnaround from all parties.  We get asked the typical questions all the time, “What about this?”, “How much?”, “How long do you think it will take?”, “When can we start?”   These can be easy or difficult to answer depending on scope and labor intensity.

We try to take a practical approach when working with clients on projects for homes to be purchased.  Many times clients have specific thoughts on style and cosmetic upgrades, while some have no idea on cost from a max or min standpoint.  Many pre-move in renovations are very straightforward, requiring nothing more than simple square footage calculations, i.e. flooring, painting and carpet.  Others can be more in depth, such as a full kitchen remodel or a complete master bath renovation.  From the onset, we meet and review details with clients regarding scope, budget, and time.  We try to set clear realistic parameters on both pricing and timelines.  From the initial meeting there is always an element of time, either for purchase or up to moving in, these of course are always a challenge.  This is typically coupled with a budget/scope in mind.  Larger projects will require more planning, possibly drawings, engineering, and permitting.  All of these elements can extend the timeline and cost as well.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when pursuing pre-purchase estimates and pre-move in projects:

Does the house merit the scope of work?  This may seem like a loaded question but careful research and comparisons can help answer it.  This depends on original purchase price, potential equity, and also future return.  Most kitchen and bath renovations are very profitable from a resale standpoint.  Talk with your contractor on what “makes sense”.

Does the house have a laundry list of repairs that are visible and/or non-visible?  Most of the time there is an inspection required.  When the report is disclosed/received, review carefully and pay attention to details, i.e. age of equipment, water heaters, condition of foundation, etc.  While the house can have the cosmetic appearance of being great, some of these can be big ticket items which may need to be addressed first.

What makes the most sense to do now?  We always tell clients scope is very personal and budget specific.  We guide our clients to take on projects that make the most sense, have the best return, and should be done pre-move in.  For example, a full kitchen or master bath, best done pre-move in; wood floors and full interior painting also better pre-move.

Can we do the work in phases?  The work can always be done in phases.  We recommend taking on the needs and the musts first, then move into the wants.  Always plan to address items that require immediate attention, such as a new HVAC system and items that make sense to do before occupying the home, such as refinishing of flooring.

While there is no perfect formula for pre-purchase and pre-move projects, careful planning and discussion can be beneficial.  Key elements are asking the right questions and finding the right contractor.  Of course time is always an issue, but rushing it can be costly.  We always suggest working through the details to achieve the best possible results.