If you’re contemplating a remodeling project, it’s smart to begin planning early. Make phone calls and schedule a virtual meeting now so that your designer or builder will be prepared to start your renovation when you’re ready to have contractors in your home. Also, now is a good time to consider outdoor projects, such as patios, pool houses and basement renovations with separate entrances, since homeowners and contractors can keep an appropriate distance from one another.

We asked JP Ward, managing partner at Anthony Wilder Design/Build for some tips for preparing for future projects. Ward provided these recommendations, edited for length and clarity, via email:

Think about what and why you want to remodel. The why is as important as the what.

Look for inspiration. Online resources such as Houzz, Pinterest and remodeling/design firms’ websites can give you ideas about the styles and finishes you like: for instance, in kitchen cabinet colors, whether you want one color for all the cabinets or a different color for the island.

Track what you like. Start collecting images online of spaces you like by creating idea books or boards to refer to. The more images you look at, the more you will find your style.

Find the right firm. Become familiar with the different types of remodeling firms, such as design-build, architectural only or contractor only. Review websites to see project photos and to gather more information about how each firm works.

Make introductions. Typically, a call is a good start. We love it when homeowners call us and tell us what they have in mind for the renovation and why they decided to call now.

Set up a meeting and consider ways to connect. When possible, an in-person meeting is best, but everyone needs to follow social distancing practices. If an in-person meeting isn’t possible, calls and virtual meetings are options.

Map out a plan. The scope of work, budget and timeline are the next items to review. Then decide if it makes sense to begin soon or delay the start date.

Look outside. Now might be a great time to think about those outdoor projects that abide by social distancing rules and that could possibly be completed by summer, such as a patio, pavilion, deck, pool house or grill/kitchen area. Projects that offer separate entrances, such as walk-out basements or rooms above garages, are also ones that could be started soon because they don’t require contractors inside your home.

Confirm the timeline. Owners often want a renovation completion date to coincide with an upcoming milestone, such as a holiday or personal celebration or back-to-school schedule. Once a time is established, we work backward to meet their desired completion date. For instance, the process of designing and constructing a kitchen can take around three months.

Check into a loan. Some owners look into home improvement loans before the first call, while others wait to get the final budget before seeking a loan. Either works.

Sign a contract. Even if the start date is delayed, a contract can be signed to get the wheels in motion.

Select finishes. Selecting finishes is also a critical part of the remodeling process. We’re currently not seeing delays in getting materials. The sooner homeowners can make selections, the better. Some like to see the items in person, while others are fine with the design team suggesting three or four options to choose from. It varies from client to client.

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