The Ultimate Guide to Home Remodeling in Michigan
There’s a lot to know about home remodeling in Michigan. Whether you’re updating your kitchen, transforming your bathroom or adding a new addition to your home, you don’t want to jump into a project without a fair amount of planning. We’ll help you focus on the questions you need to ask and the things you need to know to get your remodel done right.

There’s a lot to know about home remodeling in Michigan. Whether you’re updating your kitchen, transforming your bathroom or adding a new addition to your home, you don’t want to jump into a project without a fair amount of planning.

As a homeowner, a remodel may be one of the biggest projects you will undertake. Go about it wrong and you could find yourself paying too much for too little or worse, getting stuck with dissatisfying (or even dangerous) results. But plan properly and you can find yourself truly enjoying the experience and getting the home you’ve been dreaming of. 

In this guide, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of home remodeling in Michigan. We’ll help you focus on the questions you need to ask and the things you need to know to get your remodel done right.

Keep reading to learn more or use the chapter links below to jump ahead.

  1. Should You Remodel or Buy a New Home?
  2. How to Decide Between Doing It Yourself or Hiring a Professional for Your Home Remodel
  3. What is a General Contractor?
  4. How to Find and Hire a General Contractor
  5. Deciding on the Scope of Your Michigan Home Remodel
  6. Figuring Out Your Home Remodel Budget
  7. Terms to Know
  8. 8 Tips and Reminders for Home Remodeling in Michigan

Should You Remodel or Buy a New Home?

Do you want to fix up your current home or would it make more sense just to buy a new house? You may be leaning one way already, but take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do you feel about your current home?

There may be things you don’t like about your current home, but just how deep does your dissatisfaction run? If there are things you love about your home — location, size, style, yard or certain rooms — it may make more sense to stay and design a new layout or give the less desirable parts of your space a facelift. But if your home is low on redeeming qualities, you may be looking at a rebuild or move

  1. Which option makes the most financial sense?

Remodeling and moving each have costs.

Buying and selling real estate is expensive. A move will mean hiring a realtor and other professionals. You’ll also have to pay for repairs to both your current and future homes. Sellers should also be wary of the Capital Gains Tax if they make a large profit. For moving to make sense, you’ll need to sell your current home for a good price and get a good deal on a new place.

The cost of home remodeling in Michigan depends greatly on the scope of your project. Your budget will need to account for labor and materials, contractor fees, permitting fees, and even a contingency budget. As a rule, the bigger your remodel and the older your home, the greater the cost.

So which option is right for your wallet? It depends on your specific circumstances. Get a quote from a well reviewed licensed general contractor to make a well informed decision.

  1. How much stress can you put up with?

Moving is a stressful process. There are so many variables and everything has to work out just right for you to end up in a position that’s better than where you started. Many people feel overwhelmed throughout this process and end up cursing the fact that they moved in the first place.

While we can’t promise remodeling is completely stress-free, there are fewer unknowns. Your family can enjoy the consistency of staying in the same place. You won’t have the stress of starting over in a new area. Plus it’s generally easier to fix one home than sell one home and then buy another.

How to Decide Between Doing It Yourself or Hiring a Professional for Your Home Remodel

Some people love renovating their home all by themselves. They enjoy the blood, sweat and tears that go into a project. And often, they hope to save some money by doing it on their own.

Others love the peace of mind that comes with hiring a professional. They’d rather have someone else take care of the details and ensure the work is done right.

Which approach is right for you? It depends on the scope of your project.

If your remodel is simply a fresh coat of paint or new lighting fixtures, you may be able to handle it yourself. But if your project is any bigger than that, it’s usually worth it to hire a professional.

It’s always more expensive to fix a mistake than hire someone to do it right the first time. Plus, home remodeling is time and labor-intensive. Are you able to juggle your job, family life and renovate your house? Do you know current building code and what inspectors will be looking for? Do you have all the appropriate tools and know how to use them? Chances are the DIY approach will mean your project takes a lot longer (and costs a lot more) than it has to.

What is a General Contractor?

Speaking of hiring a professional, when you’re home remodeling in Michigan, it’s important to find the right general contractor. This may not mean the first one that pops up on a web search or the one your friend refers you to. You have to dig deeper to find a contractor that you trust and feel you can work with!

A general contractor is a professional who coordinates every aspect of a remodeling project. Think of them like a quarterback — they have the experience and skill needed to see the big picture and are great at knowing how to get the most out of every member of the team. General contractors do it all for you and what they don’t do themselves, they bring in trusted subcontractors to do for them. They help plan and design the remodel, they provide the remodel contract and all the terms of the agreement, secure permits and schedule and oversee all work. They negotiate contracts with vetted subcontractors, verify licenses, plan site visits and ultimately control the quality of the execution.

When you hire a general contractor, you should feel comfortable knowing all the details will be handled so you don’t have to worry about what’s being done in your absence. You get one point of contact to manage the whole project, so you’re not spending your time vetting carpenters or plumbers and chasing them around trying to get the project schedule figured out. They’re experts, so you don’t have to worry about knowing the ins and outs of construction, let alone protecting yourself from shady contractors who will use your lack of knowledge of the process to their advantage. A general contractor lifts the weight of responsibility off your shoulders and makes sure you get the home you’ve been dreaming of and they accept the liability if things go wrong.

How to Find and Hire a General Contractor

It’s important to hire the right general contractor, so do your homework.

Ask for recommendations and read reviews. Look for someone who has worked on projects similar to yours.

If you find someone that might be a good candidate, sit down and talk with them. You want someone who understands your goals and is intentional in communicating with you. A good general contractor will be happy to answer questions and provide estimates before they take any money. Ask for references and CALL THEM. Ask what sets them apart from their closest competitors. Get to know them as well as you can and be prepared for this process to take a while. Rushing into a remodel is the quickest way to find someone who will just tell you what you want to hear rather than finding someone who truly has your best interests in mind.

We put together a free resource with all the things you need to know before hiring a general contractor. You can download it HERE: [link to lead generator].

Deciding on the Scope of Your Michigan Home Remodel

Once you’ve decided to remodel, talk with your family to figure out the scope of your project. Maybe even talk to your neighbors who have done similar remodels in their homes and see if there were any surprises along the way.

Do you want to refresh the look of an existing space or do you want a completely new layout? Are you open to an addition or tearing out walls? What are your biggest concerns? What are your primary goals? How involved do you want to be in the process?

Get clear on what you’re looking for up front. Not only will this help you find the right contractor for your project, but it will also help you stay on budget. Start by dreaming about the space you want (yes it’s okay to look at Pinterest here!) and get specific about your needs and communicate them to your contractor. The more detailed your vision, the better you’ll be able to make it a reality.

It’s okay if you don’t have everything worked out yet. A good general contractor will be able to help you clarify your vision.

Figuring Out Your Home Remodel Budget

Budgets are important. A well planned remodel won’t send you into unexpected debt or bury you in hidden costs.

Take some time to figure out what you can afford to spend. This is a decision you want to make up front. Otherwise it’s easy to get carried away when you see all the beautiful options you could have in your home.

Set a firm number and then talk with a general contractor to see what you can get for your money. They’ll be able to make recommendations to help you stretch your budget and get the most out of it. Being honest is key and a good general contractor will be honest in return.

Remember, home remodeling in Michigan is a good investment when you find the right general contractor. It’s worth it to get the work done right, using the right materials and following the rules as set forth by the municipalities in which you live. Cut rate contractors often cut corners or use substandard materials in order to hit your budget while maximizing their profit.

Microsoft Office has some templates you can use to organize your remodel budget. Check them out HERE.

Terms to Know

With home remodeling Michigan families are stepping into a whole new world. There’s so much new language that it feels easy to get lost. Here we lay out some of the terms you need to know.

Addition

Square footage (often in the form of a new room) that is added to a home.

Allowances

Part of the remodel budget that is set aside for items yet to be selected. For example, you may budget a flooring allowance before knowing the specific material you want to use.

Bid

Bids are usually a total project cost that represents the specifics of what a contractor will do and how much it will cost with no additional fees or hidden costs.

Building Codes

Any construction project comes with rules. These codes almost always refer back to standards of building that maximizes the safety of the resulting work. There are nation, federal, state, city, county and even trade specific building codes and standards. If you’re hoping to add value to your home, you’ll need to be able to prove you followed these rules.

Building Permit

Most construction projects require approval from the local government before work can begin and a several inspection points along the way. Contractors should pull their own permits and share the inspection results openly with you. It’s your home and you deserve to know it was done correctly.

Certificate of Occupancy

Before a building or space can be legally approved for occupancy, it must receive approvals from all inspection departments who were involved in the project. Once all work has passed inspection by the appropriate authority, the municipality will issue a certificate of occupancy certifying everything was done to current codes and standards and it is safe for you to live in.

Change Order

You’ll typically outline your project before work begins. Anything that falls outside of the original contract requires a written change order. Change orders often stand alone to prevent having to modify and resign the original contract repeated times. There is often a fee associated with change orders that occur as a result of homeowners changing the plan after the project has begun.

Contract

Contracts are legally binding documents meant to protect both client and contractor. In the case of a home remodel, there may be various contracts — between you and the general contractor, between the general contractor and subcontractors, etc. These contracts will lay out the terms of each agreement and will define the responsibilities of each party involved including the homeowner and are the legal proof you need if there is a dispute. Without a detailed contract you are at the mercy of he said she said and that rarely holds up in court.

Existing Conditions

When planning a remodel, you might see your home’s original layout labeled “existing conditions” or “as built”. This helps distinguish your “before” from the proposed renovations.

Inspections

The local government requires trained inspectors to visit the site and make sure work is being done to code. These inspectors will sign off on the project and will review any methods before work is finished. Without this proof you really have no guarantee the work was performed correctly.

Permit

A document issued by the local government giving permission for your project or a portion of your project.

Punch List

Prior to the completion of the project and final payment, it is standard practice for a contractor to allow a homeowner the opportunity to present a list of any issues they see with the way the work was performed. This can be anything from a paint drip that was missed, a nail hole that wasn’t filled, poor craftsmanship or even collateral damage to their home. If the work is substantial, contractors will generally allow the homeowner to withhold part of the final payment until the items are corrected (Usually an amount reflecting the value of the work when completed properly).

Warranty

Many items in a remodel are covered under manufacturer warranties but the contractor warranty is different. Usually covering the original cost of materials and labor, contractors in Michigan and many other states are required to warranty their work for a minimum of two years. A good general contractor will stand by their work and will offer warranties or guarantees in excess of the two year requirement.

8 Tips and Reminders for Home Remodeling in Michigan

  1. Spend time planning out your project before work begins. What do you want from your space? What can you afford?
  2. Talk about timelines with your general contractor. Do you need your remodel finished by a certain date? Make sure you and your contractor are on the same page.
  3. Consider convenience when planning your project. If you’re living in your space while it’s being remodeled, set expectations for the “construction zone”. A good general contractor will keep the work neat and tidy so it doesn’t take over your home.
  4. Be sure to apply for the proper permits and inspections. Your contractor will know what you need.
  5. Figure out how much equity your remodel will add to your home by talking with a bank. If done right, your project can be a great investment.
  6. Ask for a detailed contract that calls out all the work to be performed. This will keep your expectations of what you are going to get very clear from the start. DO NOT sign a contract that simply has a number!
  7. Figure out a payment schedule with your general contractor. Don’t pay in full ahead of time. Expect to pay a down payment and then at least one or several additional payments at clearly defined points along the way.
  8. Price is important, but it’s not the only variable you should consider. Look for quality of work and good communication. When it comes to remodeling, it’s always worth it to pay a little more for a contractor you love and work you can trust than to hire the cheap guy and have to deal with the fallout when he doesn’t come through on his promises.

Resources for Your Michigan Home Remodel

5 Things to Know Before Hiring a General Contractor

  1. Houzz
  2. Remodeling Cost Calculator
  3. Room Sketcher Design Software
  4. State of Michigan Building Permit Information
  5. VADA Contracting’s Facebook Page

You’re Ready to Get Started

Home remodeling in Michigan is a big undertaking. But don’t let that scare you away. With the right resources and a good general contractor on your team, you’ll be able to turn your existing space into the home you’ve been dreaming of.

It’s time to put your project in motion. Follow the steps we outline above and if you need a little help, give VADA Contracting a call.