I’ve recently exchanged some emails with a possible client...
I've been advising her on some things to look out for and take into consideration while she is deciding whether or not she should buy a house that needs quite a bit of work.
And, because our conversation went into so much depth, I figured I’d go ahead and share what we went over with you. After all, most people will eventually buy a home at some point in there life, and it will be highly likely that they’ll want to remodel some aspect(s) of it before they move in and get totally comfortable.
So hold on to this article, okay? Bookmark it...Pin it...just keep it handy. There might come a day when you will need it. ;-)
Far too often...
I run into people who are so excited about remodeling the home they are about to buy and they fail to consider everything within the scope (the plan your designer/contractor goes by) of the job. Not only that, they fail to recognize the scale of the job.
Btw: Sure, of course, every job is different. And even though you might only be considering remodeling one room in the house, the insights below will apply to you just as much as they will to someone who will be addressing numerous areas in their house.
5 Questions You should Ask Yourself Before Remodeling
Let me just start off by saying... ANYTHING (well, almost anything ;-) can be done in remodeling. I’ve had questions from people who want to know if they can move a wall or push out into an attic, close up an opening, flip the layout, etc.. Like I said (almost) ANYTHING can be done; it’s just a matter of how much $$$ you want to spend.
Now on to the questions!
QUESTION #1: Is there anything that needs to be fixed?
The first thing you should do is focus on whether or not there are big, expensive items that aren’t in good working order. The last thing you want to have to do in a remodel is fix problems that you couldn't see and pay for things that should have been right in the first place.
(Don’t you often see that on HGTV? They dig into the walls and find mold or bad wiring or leaks.)
Although that might happen anyway, it's good to make sure windows, roof, plumbing issues, electrical, air conditioning, etc. are all in good condition. If they aren’t, just make sure the costs to fix them are factored into your budget.
QUESTION #2: Do you want to do any major construction work, like tearing down a load-bearing wall or rearranging the kitchen?
If you are happy with the layout and don't need to open up spaces, or anything like that, then you can spend more money on the finishes, appliances, lighting, etc.
For example, in these projects of mine, we needed to do a lot of work to open up the spaces, and the work took up a significant portion of the budget.
Of course it was well worth it, but it is something you should consider when thinking about the scope of your project. And, if you need layout adjustment at all, go ahead and do it in the remodel or else you’ll just be putting good money on top of bad.
QUESTION #3: Do you have enough money to go ahead and finish this project at the quality level you'll be happy with for a long time?
Rarely, when people remodel, do they remodel again in the future to get more of what they want. (And, if they do, they don’t like it and have a hard time coming to grips with replacing something they already spent money on.)
They'll typically go back into a new area of the house, like... If they did the kitchen first, then they will go do a bathroom later; but they don’t often go back in and spend more on remodeling something they've already done once, even if it they didn't quite go all out the first time.
Putting good money on top of bad, like keeping cabinets that you really don't like and putting new countertops on them, basically tends to be a final remodel job in that room for that homeowner.
What I mean here, is to go for what you want the first time; and if you need to back off somewhere, do it in an area of the house where you can come in and do it all totally later.
QUESTION #4: Have you made your list — or, rather, your scope — of everything you’d like to tackle or change within each room? This is your wish list; you can go back in and dial it down later or adjust it if need be.
Here’s an example of what such a list/scope would look like: (btw: these are just some basic examples)
- Upstairs bedroom: New flooring; new paint on walls; trim and ceiling; new ceiling fan; add can lights; remove existing shutters; patch and repair moulding, as necessary.
- Media room: New carpet; install raised platform; install electrical for seating; smooth and prepare walls for homeowner's wallcovering; coordinate work with sound system/equipment company; install new homeowner provided sconce light fixtures; install new custom designed media cabinet. (Okay, yes, that's pretty detailed, but you get what I mean.)
- Kitchen: Total gut; new cabinets; new lighting; all new finishes; all new appliances; keep existing layout.
Obviously, there's a lot of room for customization and specifics to be added in. Perhaps, for example, the room doesn't need painting. Maybe it's in pristine condition and you like the color, the carpet, the lighting, etc. If that’s the case, just note that and move to the next room.
This kind of list/scope helps a contractor and designer ascertain the scope of the job and it helps you consider everything you want to do in the job.
Although it may change (because designers can always see different ways to approach a job and a project can always grow or shrink for any number of reasons), at least it will help you wrap your head around the scope of what you want to do.
QUESTION #5: What are the “invisible” expenses — yet still very desirable — you might have overlooked while planning your scope? I went through some important ones to consider in this post. You’re definitely going to want to take a look at it.
Don’t forget to think of your remodel as an adventure! Yes, remodels can be painful sometimes (much like childbirth:-), but in the end you’ll have a beautiful bundle of joy to love!