Managing a Living Room Remodel

Get tips for choosing and hiring professionals for your living room renovation.


By: Susan Kleinman

Whether you are planning a full gut renovation of your living room or just some minor upgrades, chances are you will have several professionals working on the job – an architect and maybe an interior designer; electricians, HVAC specialists, painters, window installers and floor refinishers. With all those hands on deck, your home could very quickly become as crowded as a train station in rush hour and just about as chaotic. To avoid turning your house into a madhouse, it's important to manage your project carefully, making sure each professional knows exactly what his/her role will be and when that role needs to be performed.

Build Your Team

To make sure all of your remodeling professionals are on the same page, try to find a team that has worked together before, suggests Bruce Graf, owner of Graf Developments. "When you have a team that has worked together on successful projects before," he says, "they'll know how each other thinks and will be comfortable during problems. Also, with any relationship, they will have worked out the 'growing pains' of getting to know each other."

If you can't find a team with past collaboration experience, don't worry. "While a long standing working relationship between team members is great," says architect Amy Alper, "expect your team of professionals to know how to work with others for the first time." Just make sure everyone knows who is in charge, and where to turn with questions and problems. And make sure that all parties have agreed to a timetable that includes every aspect of the overall job.

So, who is in charge? If you are doing construction that requires a contractor's services, they may serve as a general contractor, coordinating all subcontractors (the plumber, painter, etc.). Or, you may choose to serve as your own GC, but be forewarned: Unless you have renovation experience and oodles of time, being your own GC may actually end up costing you more money in the long run, because a professional knows how to avoid expensive missteps and duplication of efforts that a novice cannot anticipate.

Consider Timing

When you are ready to start interviewing architects, contractors and interior designers, consider timing. If you're planning an 18-month remodel and you are hosting a huge family reunion a year from now, you might want to shift your start time forward or back so that your family members aren't stepping over 2x4 boards to get to the buffet.

If you live in Minnesota, you'll want to make sure that you don't have a big open hole in the front of your house in January (plastic sheeting can only go so far in fighting 40-mile-an hour winds).

And if you're expecting a baby, remember that those bundles of joy have been known to show up early; try to schedule your renovation so that you're not coming home from the maternity ward to a construction zone. The less of a hassle your renovation is, the more you will enjoy the finished product.

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