Starting a remodel can be intimidating, especially when it's a home 50 plus years old. People fear that they might not be able to get it exactly how they want. They fear that there could be something terribly wrong hidden under all the layers of wallpaper. They fear the length of the process and being out of their homes for a prolonged period of time. They even fear that the investment may not be worth the end pay off. With all these concerns, many people may be wondering if an extensive remodel is worth it or if they should build their dream home from scratch. Yet, if they are like many of you and me, they are still caught daydreaming about that old home on the corner with the exquisite details and quality craftsmanship. My goal today is to ease some of your fears concerning a remodel and give you some tools to help prepare against the worst.
1. Start planning early.
Execution without a plan often leads to prolonged remodels, unforeseen issues, and frustration. So, start dreaming! List everything you want and need in your home. I feel it's better to dream big and fall short than not dream at all. Take your vision to a designer and contractors. Most designers start off a project with a consultation; the designer chats with you online over video or in your home, assesses the situation and gives you valuable information about where to start, things to avoid, and even professionals to turn to. They help you see which of your dreams can become a reality and plan how you can achieve them.
2. Find professionals that specialize in remodels.
Getting professionals early on the project ensures the actual remodel goes as smoothly as humanly possible. Research and hire professionals who are well versed in remodels. Especially if you are working with a home that was built 50 or more years ago, find professionals who specialize in such homes who know what to look for and expect and how to highlight the unique characteristics of the home. Although each project is different, and individual issues arise in every home, these professionals will know how to handle and work around problems and utilize the space to meet its greatest potential.
3. When possible, plan different living arrangements for the duration of the remodel.
I know from personal experience, living in a remodel is not the most fun, though I'm aware that in many cases it may not be possible to up and leave your home for a few months. When we were remodeling our kitchen we were living in our home and had set up a temporary kitchen in the basement. Although we had done this, we were still in the midst of the chaos, and not being able to separate ourselves from it caused tension. There was one time in particular that we were trying to prepare dinner and I hadn't eaten all day, and because the downstairs outlets couldn't handle the power from the appliances, the power kept going out and it was taking forever to make the food. I totally broke down crying from the stress of it all and I didn't know how much more I could handle (and I was the designer!). Remodels can be stressful, but if you can live separately from the project site (trust me) your sanity will thank you. If not, it is totally okay! Set up a temporary kitchen or workspace so that you can continue normal routines. Remember that life continues, the project will in-fact be over someday, and once that remodel is finished you'll hardly remember the headache!
4. Have your contractor inspect the home for anything that may be alarming.
Check the foundation, rafters, electrical, and plumbing for anything that may immediately be alarming. Though this isn't telling of every problem that may arise, this will help prepare you and may allow you to foresee potential issues.
5. Set aside a budget just for problems that may arise.
Part of the problem with unforeseen issues is not that they are unfixable, but the cost involved in resolving them. When you are budgeting out your remodel, set aside 5-10% for issues that may arise. This may seem big, but if little or no problems arise, that's more money for you or your project! It is far better to be prepared!
6. Work with the home and not against it.
I have come across it so many times - there is a supporting wall right in the middle of where you want your kitchen to be, an inconveniently placed fireplace, or even some small staircase that actually leads to nowhere (yes, I've seen it!). Although many of these oddities can be changed (and some should), sometimes the best solution is working with them. I've had a kitchen all designed, only to find out that a wall actually can't be moved. But, in the end, the space turned out even better! So, I've learned no to fight it too much. There are certain things that add character and charm to your home that can be utilized effectively and sometimes you might just find a hidden gem under all those layers of wallpaper!
When all is said and done, remodeling is a very fun and fulfilling venture! I have seen many clients transform their homes into their dream home, not knowing beforehand the potential their space had. When it comes to older homes, the craftsmanship and attention to detail are exquisite, and utilizing those elements to support your modern lifestyle is well worth it. Remodeling your home will help preserve it, allowing individuals and families to enjoy it for generations to come; and, just about anything can be resolved with the right outlook and team!