5 Things to Know Before Renovating

Understanding your goals is the first step, and having a clear scope and budget when you’re ready to find a general contractor is a good position to be in. To help guide you on this path, we asked Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with the best vetted general contractors for major renovations.

1. Where to start: Compile a “must-have” vs. “nice-to-have” list. Decide what is a priority for your lifestyle vs. a feature that would be great to include if the budget allows.

2. What to do: Determining whether to “rip-and-replace” (swapping new items directly in place of old) vs. “reimagine” (moving walls or plumbing) will help you hire the right people and crystallize your costs.

3. Understand the budget: Budget and timeline are a range. Make sure to educate yourself on these factors, and build a 10 percent to 20 percent cushion into your budget. Sweeten estimates a gut renovation in Fairfield County ranges from $220 to $350 a square foot.

4. Know the rules: Check your town’s permitting protocol before making any renovation decisions.

5. Work with your contractor: Get estimates from three or four general contractors, and choose one who matches your communication style, in addition to being a good fit for your location, budget, timeline and style.