DIY Home Remodel: Start the Process
We tend to create a difficult picture in our minds of a project or home remodel in order to come to a decision to make our house better. Why is this? The problem lies in making the project too large. Large projects take lots of time and of course where time goes money must follow. The best way to go about changing your home for the better is to focus on the positive and of course, take things one small project at time. What do you like about your house? What works in your home and how could your home be better? Write down the issues you are often confronted with in your home that you would change tomorrow: cramped spaces, dead end spaces, poor lighting, dated exterior, inefficient windows and doors, dated kitchen/bathrooms. Once you have written this list, write another list of what can be changed with some time and a little elbow grease. Then once you have yourself organized in this manner you will have yet another list that you can work on with an architect or contractor for your home remodel.
Remodel means “to change the structure or form”
Most of the time the structure or bones of your house are there but you may need help seeing the forest for the trees. When making decisions about changing the structure of your home bigger is most often not the best solution. Additions, if warranted are often best designed when they allow an existing space to expand particularly a space that is frequently used and if the area was made larger it would become a more effective living space. For example, a bump-out addition can be considered for expanding a bathroom, creating a larger laundry room and/or even just adding space to a previously unusable area. Depending on where your home is a bump out can be made up to 3 feet deep and as long as 10-12 feet. What is the benefit of a bump out versus a conventional addition? A bump out does not require foundation and/or roof work which can save you anywhere from 10-30% of the cost of a conventional addition.
What Do You Want The Room to Become?
Let’s use an example. Say you want to remodel your kitchen, there isn’t enough light and the space is cramped besides you can never find anything because the storage is literally this one giant pantry. Where do you even start with this remodel? Think about what you and your family do in this room. How often do you have multiple people using the space? What does each person do in a day in this kitchen space? Try and understand how you use the kitchen space and what could be done to make it more functional. Does no one hang out in the kitchen because it is dark and cold? Is the space too small for entertaining friends on a Friday night when you invite them for dinner? Can you reach the most-used appliances in the kitchen? Try using this helpful worksheet as an exercise to help you understand the functions of the space you live in and how they could be improved.
Stick to Your Goal and Don’t Get Carried Away
Replacing windows, doors, flooring, remodeling kitchens/baths and converting your basement into a livable space all costs money and takes time. The costs to remodel a home can be significant but positive changes to your home also translate to increased market value. With this concept in mind it is easy to get carried away with ideas. With that being said, keep your home’s style and size in mind with respect to the rest of the neighborhood and the setting. Keep in mind that you do not need a $60,000 kitchen in a home whose value is under $400,000. A smart investment would be to keep your kitchen renovation budget under 15% of your home’s market value. A $3,000 patio door is unnecessary when a $1,000 sliding glass door performs just as well; the difference in prices is often in the hardware.
Get Professional Help When You Need It
It may be hard to spend your hard-saved home remodel money on an architect but, you will save time and money with the insight from planning ahead. An architect or contractor is a great tool to have if you plan on moving interior walls or adding additional space to your home. You never know when you might run into a problem area in the house and having someone who is familiar with troubleshooting the issues you come across is invaluable. Project planning expenses may run up to $3,000 more or less but you’ll be happy you did. When selecting an architect or contractor do your research and check your references.
Start with a Budget
Before you go in and start gutting the place make sure you have a budget and build in a conservative amount for overage built in. For older homes with unknown issues you never know what might pop up and if you are the homeowner of an older place consider building more of a safety net. Not that you will need it but, put aside 10-15% as emergency issues money for plumbing, electrical, sub flooring and additional permits.
Where Do You Go?
Have a plan for where you will be while the remodel work is going on. It is a dusty, messy business so plan to pack away and protect the belongings that usually live in the room(s) you will be changing. Not everyone can afford to move out of their home during the remodeling process so you may have to do projects in steps. Be patient, the process can be a long one. Sometimes you can seal off a “clean” area to store belongings and even continue to use other parts of the house while work is being done. If you choose to have the professionals help with your home remodel, allow them the time they need to do what they do best and your patience will be rewarded.