A newly remodeled gray and white bathroom.

Remodeling projects like this one can take significantly longer than in recent years.

The year 2022 set off new and continuing challenges in the remodeling world. In addition to supply chain issues, there is also a skilled labor shortage. Those elements combined with an ongoing high demand for remodeling have created a new set of challenges.  So, how do you prepare for a smooth remodel during this time?

First of all, decide on the exact scope of work for your remodel. If you have several areas you want to remodel, prioritize those areas to determine which are most important. It might make sense to do all your projects at once, or it may make more sense to phase out the projects. But either way, deciding on the exact scope of work will help you when you start meeting with and evaluating contractors or remodeling companies.

Next, determine your budget.  Setting a budget will help guide the design process and may dictate how much of your project can be done now and what might have to wait. When setting a budget, be sure to add 10-20 percent for unexpected costs. This could cover things like rot or other damage that’s found when a wall is opened up or this overage allowance may be needed for fluctuating material costs. Material costs have been changing rapidly over the past year and a half or so and still remain somewhat unpredictable. We’ve seen increases across the board in costs of materials; from tile to lumber to paint.

The next important step in setting yourself up for a successful remodel is to spend plenty of time upfront with a designer or your contractor to finalize a design plan.  This step is so important in helping to curb costs and give everyone involved on the project clear direction. If you don’t have a design plan upfront, be prepared to face additional costs and delays during the project. If changes are being made after construction starts, this will cause the project to halt so everyone can regroup and reevaluate costs and materials. While minor adjustments are sometimes inevitable and necessary, making major design changes during construction is guaranteed to cause a headache for both you and your contractor and cause significant delays.

After a design is finalized and a contract is signed, the next step should be ordering materials.  Because of the challenges that have come up over the past two years, some materials like cabinets, appliances, windows, etc. have months-long lead times. The sooner materials are finalized and ordered; the sooner actual construction will be able to start.

One of the most important things to remember if you’re thinking about taking on a remodeling project at this time is to have patience and realistic expectations.  Everything is taking longer now than it did two or three years ago.  Not only are materials taking longer, but the best contractors are booking months to a year out because of current high demand. If you find a contractor who is available to start within a week or two, that is likely a huge red flag. Also, prepare yourself for delays.  Unfortunately, during this time, delays seem inevitable. Be open-minded and be willing to work with your contractor through the delays and trust they are doing everything they can to keep things moving.

Finally, expect the unexpected and remember it never hurts to have a back-up plan. Especially when it comes to materials and scheduling, a back-up plan will help save you time in the long run.  I have had several projects over the past year or so where a specific material was either backordered or discontinued and we were forced to make a new selection during construction. There are often ways to keep the project going despite having to recover from a setback. And, fortunately, there are still lots of options out there, so even if you end up going with your back-up plan, you won’t have to compromise on quality or your overall look.

Now, just because we’ve discussed all these challenges, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will face them during your own remodel. Typically, the larger the project, the more likely it is that one of these issues might come up. The keys to a successful remodel in 2022 are planning, flexibility and patience.  Keeping those three things in mind throughout the process are more important than ever. Those, along with honesty and communication, will help lead to a smooth remodel and your happiness both during and at the end of the project.

Photo: courtesy Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling