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Design Thinking
Ideas and Inspiration

Two Big Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When planning ahead for work on your home, consider these tips to help you avoid two prevalent remodeling mistakes.

Big Mistake 1: Not Having a Master Plan

couple looking at remodeling plansA master plan is the grand plan for your home improvement; a vision for your evolving master piece. Everyone should have one!

The master plan identifies the various projects that you want to do over time. You can break it down into multiple phases to keep yourself on track, and to budget your spending over several years.

A master plan allows you to prioritize your options and feel comfortable with the timing and choice of home remodeling projects.

We visited one homeowner who had just built a screened-in porch right in the spot where a kitchen bump-out should go. This mistake meant either ripping out the porch or settling for a kitchen design that was smaller than what they wanted. This error could have been avoided with a little forethought.

With a master plan in place, you will be less likely to experience “one step forward, two steps back.” You can see the big picture and ensure that you consider the total scenario, not just your immediate needs.

Creating a master plan allows you to think through how your various projects fit together now and in the future. How your lifestyle changes as your family grows and ages will impact how you use your home.

Thinking through the master plan will allow you to address questions such as how will you want to use the space differently as you children grow? Will you want a quiet area to escape from your teens and their friends? Or how about as the nest empties? Will you want to make one of those empty bedrooms into a walk-in closet? What about your parents? Will they come to live? Is an in-law suite on the table? Would that space make an ideal master bedroom suite or home office after they move out?

Some master plans require collaboration with a designer to think through what the upcoming projects should be, such as when you plan for additions or a whole house makeover. Other master plans are more straight forward, and can be done by just prioritizing the list of projects on your wish list.

Knowing where you are going is always important, and a master plan provides the framework for prioritizing your options, seeing the big picture, and ultimately investing your money wisely on the right projects for you.

Big Mistake #2: Doing Yourself What a Professional Should Do

 couple waiting to unpack moving boxesMake sure that the projects and tasks that you take on are a good match for your skill level and the quality and number of tools that you have, as well as the patience of your spouse and family!

If you are handy, have all the tools, and are so inclined, there are some projects, particularly repairs, that make sense to do yourself.

It may also be smart to contract a “one trade” activity yourself, such as having new carpets installed in the upstairs of your home.

Invest the time to learn the intricacies of a project before you tear up your home. It can be expensive when insufficient knowledge leads to a remodeling mistake.

We were once called in by a client who installed his own parquet floor. It seemed simple enough to him, and he finished the project just before leaving on a vacation.

Unfortunately, he came home to a mess. The tiles had popped out like popcorn because he tightly fitted the flooring, not leaving room for natural expansion of the wood. This is a detail that any contractor worth their salt would not have missed.

“Fixing things” is often times more expensive than having it done right from the start, particularly when it means doing the same thing twice.

Many of our best clients are ones who have come to us after they have done a project on their own, intending to “save money.” One couple ”G.C’d” a bathroom remodel on their own, and found out that it took them a year to complete and that it cost them the same as we told them it would. (not counting the cost of their time to run the project!) They came to us for the next project, and have been a great reference ever since.

Learn what you should do, and what is better off left to a professional. There is an art and skill to orchestrating a remodeling project. A good manager can pull together people and resources to get your project done for you in a timely fashion. This is important when you are living in your home while the project (read “chaos and mess”) is underway.

Beyond having teams that work together, professional remodelers have a depth of knowledge and experience at problem solving. Something unexpected always comes up, and it can be solved expeditiously. They know how to do run projects efficiently, in a reasonable amount of time, and what to look for during the design phase to keep the job within the desired budget range.

The added cost of involving a professional team can save you time and money in the long run, as well as prevent you from making a costly mistake. Never mind the free time! You’d probably rather be golfing or sitting by the pool (or even making money at your “real job”!) than worrying the details of a project.

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