Five Things We Learned (The Hard Way) About Remodeling

Buying or selling a house and remodeling projects often go hand in hand. I often advise homeowners on how they can remodel to maximize their home's value before they sell or how to make a space their own if they buy a new house. Natalie and I have also worked on a number of remodeling projects over the years from remodeling bathrooms to updating an entire property. Over the past two years, we've been planning our largest project to date — building a two-car garage with a one-bedroom living space — and have learned some lessons along the way. 

  • Everyone says this, and they say it because it's true: It will cost more and take longer than you think.  In planning and construction, unexpected things will come up that cause delays and will end up costing time and money. Budget a buffer with the expectation that you will need it.
  • Find a reputable contractor and consult with them with regards to your plans before you hire an architect/designer, soils engineer, civil engineer, and structural engineer or submit plans to the building department. A contractor can give you advice on how to design and engineer the project from the perspective of actually having to build it. 
  • Don't just go with the lowest bid. Even if you're on a tight budget, it's not always about choosing the least expensive  architect/designer, engineer, or contractor. While a low price may be offered upfront, there may be surprises that come up along the way that didn't factor into the initial price or the scope of work.
  • Think about ways to maximize quality and your home's value. As you're making design decisions, it's always good to have the intention of increasing your home's value in the back of your mind. You want to keep a good flow to the floorplan and make design choices that feel cohesive with the rest of your home. That way, if you decide to sell in a few years, your remodel can be a selling feature instead of something that might need to be fixed or updated.
  • Good relationships go a long way, especially through the headache of construction. Be nice to your neighbors and get their buy-in on your project. Even if you think they might be upset you're adding a second level, getting this out of the way on the front-end of a project can make a world of difference once you get into the construction phase.