Friday, July 12, 2013

My Top 10 Tips for Remodeling

Because we remodel houses for a living and have done a lot of work on our own home, we get a lot of questions about the remodeling process. Sometimes I get emails with questions, sometimes old friends will message me with questions on facebook. I’m more than happy to answer any questions I receive. I love remodeling houses. WE love remodeling houses. It’s our livelihood AND our hobby. It’s what I think about all day long. It’s the reason I can rarely find the time to blog. So, I thought I would share a few of our tips with you.

  1. Have a clear picture of what you want. Use Pinterest to collect ideas or keep a binder of magazine pictures. Do whatever you need to do to get a clear picture of what you want so that you can give your contractor an accurate picture of what he or she will be dealing with.
  2. Pick out all of your materials BEFORE you begin your remodel. When your bathroom has been torn out and the studs are exposed, you should not be out shopping for granite countertops. Pick everything out before you demolish the room. When your bathroom looks like this, it's NOT time to go shopping!

  3. Do not do a major remodel in the dead of Winter. Your contractors will track mud through your house and all of the materials will be wet. Plus, with people going in and out so often, you won’t be able to keep the house warm.
  4. Do not do a major remodel in the middle of the Summer heat. In the past I've sent some of our contractors home because I felt so bad about them working in the terrible heat.
  5. Do not start a remodel if you are expecting guests soon. Dinner guests, overnight guests, weekend guests . . . it doesn't matter. Don’t do it. There will be more dust than you can imagine, your house will be in disarray and you’ll feel frazzled. We were wrapping up a bathroom remodel just days before hosting a party a couple years ago. Something went terribly wrong and a portion of our house ended up without electricity. We had to call our electrician and beg him to come over on short notice to help us out. He did, because we have a fantastic relationship with him, but the whole situation caused more stress than necessary. If your house looks like this, people don't want to come over!

  6. That brings us to a big tip . . . Treat your contractors well. I always offer people in our house drinks, lunch, etc. In fact, they probably get sick of me offering them things. I make sure they are well hydrated, I pick up lunch, I send them home with sweets . . . I treat them the way I would want to be treated. Because of this, they always go the extra mile for us.  
  7. Do not start a major remodel if you are about to have a baby. Of course, this does not apply to the baby room. When you are pregnant, it is not the time to add extra stress to your life. Get all of your remodeling done before you get pregnant, or after you've had your baby and have settled into a routine. No pregnant woman should be breathing in the dust that inevitably covers the house during a remodel. Certainly don’t start a kitchen remodel while pregnant. Why would you want to go without a kitchen while you’re baking a baby in your belly? You’ll want to cook nutritious meals for your growing baby, not rely on fast food. I mean, does this look appetizing? 

  8. Have a clear contract with your contractors.  And seriously consider adding a penalty clause. If you don’t have a penalty clause and you’re working with someone that you've never worked with before, just know that they may be putting the work that needs to be done on your house aside while they work on a job that has a penalty clause.
  9. Have reasonable expectations. Ask you friends about their remodels. Ask them to share their experiences. Know that it doesn't happen overnight. Many of our remodels happened fast. We completely gutted our kitchen and remodeled it from scratch in less than 2 weeks. But, that doesn’t mean that your remodel will be the same. We’ll be remodeling our master bathroom soon and I don’t anticipate it taking longer than a week. But, we have a lot of experience and we've already worked out all of the kinks.

  10. Lock up your pets! Please, please, please think about this ahead of time. Maybe your dog or cat can stay with a friend while you complete your remodel or maybe you can drop your dog off at doggy day care. Remodels mean loud noises and strange people. Both are things that pets do not like. If your cats are indoor only, I can guarantee that they will end up outside at some point during the remodel if they are not locked in a room that has a “DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR!” sign on the door. (Read about our experience, here). If you have a dog in your backyard, he’ll find his way out an open gate. Trust me. So, just plan ahead for your furry friends. You’ll thank me.

    What are your remodeling tips? 


  1. Great tips, especially the ones about the contractors! My hubby worked in construction and did remodel sometimes, and let me tell you - the horror stories I heard about contractors who were not treated right! On the flip side, I heard about some amazing people they got to work with, and you're right - they DID go the extra mile and saved people literally $100s if not $1,000s sometimes! I have also heard about the nightmares of not having clear contracts, too. YIKES!

    At any rate, thanks for stopping by Natural and Free earlier, and best of luck with your blog - it looks great!

  2. Bookmarking this for when my husband and I eventually remodel our own place! Such helpful tips :)

    1. Great! Glad you found it helpful. Good luck with your remodel . . . send me some before & after shots!

  3. I cant agree enough with number 2! My dad owns a contracting company, and I cant tell you how many times he came home grumbling because "Mrs So and So" wants her bathroom done by the weekend, but hasnt decided on her flooring just yet.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks! Isn't it crazy that people get that far into the remodeling process without having those decisions made? Crazy!

  4. One thing to add- create a realistic budget! Do your research beforehand to know how much things cost and what you should expect to pay. You don't want to be in the middle of the project and realize that you are already over budget.

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