As both a professional and a homeowner, I am here to tell you that everything you have ever heard about a remodel, both good and bad, is probably true; and being a designer does not make me immune to some of the problems that can arise. While I thought I knew it all, I learned MANY things during this remodel and here are my top five recommendations before you begin your own remodeling project.
- Don’t live in the house if at all possible. I have handled remodels for clients who have moved out of the house and some even left town for the entire time. This is ideal but not always practical. But, if at all possible, do find someplace else to stay during the majority of the remodel. Your sanity and your marriage will appreciate it. I am happy to report, though, that both my sanity and my marriage are intact.
- Triple the amount of dirt to expect. While we all know that construction is a dirty job I am here to tell you that it is a lot dirtier than you think. Be sure to insist that your contractors block off all living areas from the construction site with plastic sheets. And don’t forget to close all the vents….dirt loves to collect in these areas only to surprise you with its presence when you turn on your air conditioning or heating unit down the road. This simple step will save you much heartache, I promise.
- Makeshift kitchens do not work. You have all heard the stories and seen the pictures of toaster ovens, coffee makers and microwaves sitting on top of moving boxes in a bedroom or bathroom or dishes being washed in the bathtub. We attempted this but it just doesn’t seem to work. My best advice is to make sure your relationships with your friends and family are on good terms so you get invited to as many home cooked meals as possible. Eating out for three meals a day loses its appeal very quickly. We just stopped eating breakfast and many nights we would go to bed without dinner because we didnt feel like going out yet again. Great for the waistline but…
- Don’t get too friendly with your contractor. I know many of you will disagree and some of you have lovely stories about how the contractor became a member of the family. I usually develop a close relationship with those I work with but when things start going sour it is awfully hard to “get tough” with a friend. While he is a nice young man, our contractor ended up having less experience with a custom kitchen than we expected which resulted in many delays and some tough words from me in order to keep the job on track. Initially it was difficult to be tough on him since he was a friend of our son’s but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
- Do your homework. I had no change orders during this remodel process much to my contractor’s dismay. (contractors make big bucks on change orders) This was due to the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted, what could be done, the cost of items, delivery times etc. This is due in part to my training and experience but anyone can search the web, contact suppliers, etc. I stuck to my guns when I was told something couldn’t be done and, for the most part, completed my original design. If you are uncomfortable making decisions in the beginning then, by all means, don’t hesitate to call in a designer (that would be me) to help with the process. It will be well worth the money in the long run.
The goal is to live through the process and come out with hair the same color as when you started and, of course, a beautiful home or room that exceeds your expectations. I withheld names of those I worked with until the job was finished to make sure I did not refer someone who really wasn’t worthy. Sadly, I would not refer my contractor to any of you but have many subs and crafts people I work with who are great referrals so call me if you need someone. Good luck and I would love to hear from you. Share your remodel triumphs and if you are beginning a project, call or email me. We will have fun, I promise!