Renovation usually seems like a good idea — at the time, anyway. Any residual quibbles of a project usually aren’t with the results, but with the process.
For a smoother overhaul or update experience, here are some angst-busting suggestions from those who do the actual work in and around Leader News neighborhoods.
On The Plan
Have one, understand it and stick to it. It also helps to monitor your expectations, says designer Anthony Frasher of LeavittHaas (formerly LynneaNova). Countless decisions need to be made; “Clients typically do not understand the breadth of items they will need to concern themselves with,” he notes. The spectrum runs from how the building looks structurally down to the paint, lighting, plumbing, mechanicals and “everything that the eye will see.”
To this, he adds how technology – as in Smart Homes — means also planning for its inclusion and use. That trend is a biggie.
On The Money
Be realistic on the timeline and (brutally) realistic on the budget. Frasher recommends a contingency of at least 10 percent to cover the unknowns exposed once remodeling begins. And there are always hiccups.
Lin Chong of FW Heritage suggests that renovationists “spend the money where you can’t see it.” That means in the foundation, under the dry wall, in the choice of lumber, in the roof, plumbing, sewer, windows and so forth.
“Everything on the surface — tile, paint, granite, etc. — is the ‘top layer’ and can be replaced much more easily than items that ‘we can’t see.’ Do that hidden layer right, and you will avoid painful, costly repairs in the future.”
On The Look
Being on trend with improvements is fine. But the results are easier to update when it’s finishes like paint. Tile grout, not so much.
Quality matters, says Realtor Lori Austin of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Premier Properties. “I see in the field that the biggest turn off for my clients is when people use very cheap materials to update a house in a nice-but-older area of town.” Her examples: cheap hardware and mismatching granite on countertops and backsplash.
“It is better to update with decent quality partially because they (clients) can see themselves working on it in the future, but if everything seems low quality and already done, they now have to replace everything.”
Room flow matters. “If you knock down a wall to call it (the floor plan) open concept but the flow of the house becomes confused or blocked, people sense it the minute they walk in even if they don’t know why,” she says.
Meanwhile, if taking down a wall is your plan, check with a professional for design ideas, she says.
On The Peeves
“You can never ever –ever — communicate enough with your builder – about anything, especially your concerns (or peeves)” says builder Leslie King of Greymark Construction. Builders are not mind-readers. If, for example, materials left uncovered on the driveway bother you, speak up.
On The Space Itself
As part of renovations, take a crack at decluttering as you pack up for the project, says certified professional organizer Ellen Rubin Delap. Toss those no-longer used seasonal decorations, unflattering clothes and old makeup and toiletries. This step is often ignored but easy to do as part of preparations.
On The Work Site
For a smooth and timely project, Chong recommends managing and organizing the trades inside and outside for seamless access. “You don’t want the site be overcrowded as workers vie for space to work or get to electricity,” she says. “The flip side is also for the house never to be without a trade. No trade = no work = no progress, and time is money.”
Also, there is no such thing as “good,” “‘fast” and “cheap,” Chong observes. “In reality, you can’t ever have all three; you really only can have two.” Her reminders:
* Good and fast – doesn’t come cheap.
* Good and cheap – won’t be fast.
* Fast and cheap—won’t be good.
To share your renovation survival tale in The Do-Over, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some Project Particulars
Statistically speaking, more than half (about 52 percent) of home purchases need updates and most updates are about personal style rather than resale, according to Zillow Group’s most recent Consumer Housing Trends Report. Among the findings:
Bathroom updates lead the more ambitious project list, accounting for 30 percent of projects. Next up? Kitchens at 22 percent, followed by floor plan modifications at 16 percent.
A “daring minority” of projects, 7 percent or so, are complete overhauls. Not usually applicable to Leader News area homes, basement conversions weigh in at 13 percent. About 18 percent of buyers snag a home previously renovated.
Among buyers, baby boomers are more likely to spring for kitchen and bath projects. As millennials slowly enter the market, the homes they can afford tend to be fixer-uppers. Energy efficiency tops their renovation behavior.
For more visits, visit www.zillow.com/research