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Prepare For Home Remodeling

Embrace Change

How To Prepare For Home Remodeling

There are many things you can do to prepare for your home remodeling project. In this blog, I’m going to focus on what you can do before you call contractors and design professionals. As I stated in last week’s segment of “Today’s Home,” most people think about remodeling their home for several years, unless they’ve just bought a home that they intend to remodel immediately. You’re in the majority of homeowners if you’ve been thinking about remodeling for two years or more. You chances for success increase exponentially when you embrace change.

3 Things Confuse and Overwhelm Homeowners

One: Went shopping and got confused by all the choices.

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to go shopping for tile and countertops before they do anything else. I’ve seen homeowners wandering the aisles at big-box stores and showrooms with a glazed look on their face that rivaled the glaze on the tile. The same confusion can happen if you go to appliance, plumbing, or lighting showrooms and see all your choices. It can be a great tool if your goal is to shop for ideas and inspiration, not for final products. The additional stress associated with making final decisions without professional guidance can overwhelm you and make you lose interest in remodeling your home.

Two: Watched home improvement programs that provide very little reliable information.

Most of these programs show you what other people have achieved, but no one tells you how long it took from beginning to end, how much the homeowners invested in this project, and how much of the project was “free.” The programs feature named suppliers and products that financially support the show, but they do not tell you how much the advertisers gave to the project in exchange for being featured. The problem I have with all TV remodeling shows is how much of the project ends up on the editing room floor. We’re shown what the advertisers, directors, and producers want us to see. If we can watch these programs for entertainment, we’ll be much better off. Unfortunately, many of us get hooked and believe everything the programs want us to believe.

Three: Read blogs and magazines about home remodeling that don’t say where to start and how to walk through the logical steps.

Magazine writers and editors are limited by the number of words and images, and they have to appeal to a wide audience to sell their advertisers’ products. Each of the magazines has at least 50 competitors for the commerce. You can easily spend $100 or more on home remodeling and renovation magazines to gather all the information you need to plan and execute your project successfully.

Online searches cost nothing, but you may spend hours searching for the information that will really help you. Using the right search terms is critical not only for you but also people (like me) who want to share knowledge and experience. It doesn’t help us that search engine algorithms change frequently. Paid internet advertising can be as expensive for entrepreneurs as print media – and it’s a crap shoot!

Yes, Lists DO Help!

Confusion happens to all of us when we try to keep everything in our brains. You’re probably tired of me harping about lists, especially if you’re not a list person. In the re-launch segment of “Today’s Home,” I stressed the importance of using the Homeowner Surveys to help you select products. Last week, I talked about remodeling priorities which includes making lists. Here’s a recap of the basic priorities you have when you’re in the “thinking about remodeling” phase of your project:

  • What do you want to achieve with your remodeling project?
    • An updated kitchen or bathroom?
    • An addition that includes what rooms?
  • How much do you want to invest in your project?
  • When do you want your project to start and finish?
  • What specific products or features are most important?

It’s hard for me to be honest about whether I really need something or merely want it. Does this happen to you, too? I’ve learned that my wants turn into needs when I’m trying to satisfy my ego. It’s the “wants” that can drive up an investment, because it’s human nature to justify our wants and believe that they’re actually needs.

Visualize and Dream: Two Simple Steps!

It’s fun to visualize and dream. Collect pictures of projects or products that are interesting, online or from magazines. Make a note about why the picture excites you, makes you feel all tingly when you think that you can have something similar in your home. Over the years, homeowners have shared their pictures with me. It helps me to understand what they want to achieve. Clients with the most successful remodeling projects have been the ones who found a way to organize the information they gathered so it was easy to find and share. Here are ideas I’ve gotten from them:

1. Get a simple multi-pocket file folder and assign categories to each pocket such as:

  • Pictures (It may be hard for you to tear up magazines. You don’t have to, if you use “sticky notes” on the pages. If you keep the magazine in tact, you’ll have the name of the magazine and publish date for reference)
  • Products
  • Professionals
  • Estimates
  • Correspondence
  • Miscellaneous (this can be like the junk drawer in your kitchen!)

2. Set up a file folder for your project in your email inbox.

You can have one  folder for everything, or you can set up a main folder with multiple sub-folders that are similar to the pockets in Example #1 above. When you see anything interesting on the internet, copy the URL and send it to yourself in an email. The great thing about this system is that you have a subject line as a reminder or a way to search, and you have the body of the email where you can describe what you like. The wonderful thing about using this technology is that you can send anything to anyone at any time. After I learned this trick from a client years ago, this is the system I use for all of my clients’ projects

This sounds like a lot of work, but believe me, it will pay off when you have successfully finished your remodeling project without disappointments and hassles! Homeowners who have used one or both of these systems have proven the validity of the recommendations! They knew more about the details of their project, talked more knowledgeably with everyone, and actually enjoyed their project from beginning to end!

Get Ready To Talk With Remodeling Professionals

After you’ve completed these tasks, you’ll be able to talk with contractors and design professionals. You can actually start getting names and contact information while you’re working on the information-gathering tasks. There are several ways you can find the people who will help you achieve your home remodeling dream. Here are six ways that have been successful for homeowners:

Let family, friends, neighbors – everyone! – know that you’re thinking about remodeling your home. They’ll offer advice and may refer you to the right people! A referral from a satisfied homeowner is platinum for everyone in the remodeling industry.
Contact a local remodeling organization like:

Search online resources like:

Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and Houzz are free for you, but they may collect a referral fee or charge for prominent display of a company. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s an important part of our capitalist economy. It doesn’t mean that the company with a a full-page, full-bleed color ad is any better than the company with a well-done quarter-page ad. Both companies have to establish and maintain an advertising and marketing budget that’s a percentage of their income. Would you rather bring your business to a company with a smaller ad, or would you rather hire a company that can afford a glitzy ad? What’s the real message that each company is saying? Call them to find out!

I hope you won’t be lured by companies that offer (or guarantee) the lowest rates or fees! Only you can decide what’s best for you now, and for years to come. Benjamin Franklin said it best:

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Questions For Remodeling Professionals

After you get the names of contractors and designers, your next step is to call them and ask questions that will help you decide if they’re the right person or company to help you achieve your home remodeling project. I’ve developed a list of qualifying questions that you can use in phone or in- person interviews with construction professionals. If you ask the same questions, it will help you make informed decisions. The qualifying questions are a guideline, an aid to help you stay on track with your remodeling goals. Of course, they’re free!

It’s All About Love!

Remodeling (or building) your home is one of the most important things you’ll do in your life. It falls in line with choosing a life partner, having children, and buying a home. All of these life experiences revolve around love. You bought the home you’re in because you fell in love with it. It was perfect for you at that time. But things have changed. Change is inevitable. It’s the personification of life. Every decision we make – as many as 35,000 a day! – involves change.

Remember why you fell in love with your home. Do you want to fall in love with it again? You wouldn’t be thinking about remodeling your home if you didn’t want it to fulfill your current and future needs. This is why I’m here to help you with “Today’s Home” podcasts and my blog, because I care.

“Change” Quotations and Final Words

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” (Arnold Bennett)

 “Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” (Robert C. Gallagher)

In conclusion, I want to share an observation. Everyone who embraces change seems to struggle with life (and decisions) less. I’ve personally experienced the difference that embracing change has made in my life. The homeowners who embrace change enjoy their building and remodeling projects, and get better results. Remember to take a deep breath and remind yourself that change can be good!

Next week’s program is going to be about a subject that we love or hate, but cannot live without: Technology.

Here is the “Today’s Home” podcast: How To Prepare for Home Remodeling

I can (and will!) help you navigate the often-confusing road to remodeling your home or building a new home. Contact me to talk about your project! Follow me on Facebook (D. P. Design and “Today’s Home”), Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Thank you for recommending the “Today’s Home” podcasts to everyone you know!

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

Priorities

What Are Your Remodeling Priorities?

This blog is going to help you understand  your remodeling priorities — what they are, and how to achieve them. No matter what you’re doing every day, your priorities are present,  even if you’re not conscious about them. That’s how we make decisions!

In the last segment of “Today’s Home,” I talked about making lists to help you decide between staying and remodeling your existing home or moving to a new home. I offered a free copy of the Homeowner Surveys, which are focused on helping you select and prioritize your product choices to help you make informed decisions. You can still get a free copy of the 27-page Homeowner Surveys. You can request a copy of the Homeowner Surveys at any time!

I intended write about a different subject for this blog, but a call from a contractor kicked me in a different direction. I’m so grateful for his call! Here’s why he called:

A Change In Priorities For Homeowners?

The cabinet maker for my clients’ kitchen project is running behind schedule, and he probably won’t have the cabinets ready for installation until August instead of early July.  So my clients may get upset. They have the right to be upset, because they signed the contract and paid the deposit thinking that the cabinet maker was agreeing to the schedule. We won’t know what’s going to happen until after the contractor talks with the cabinet maker and sends a message to my clients and me. The contractor and I agreed that all homeowners have three major remodeling priorities. Here’s what they want:

  1. To remodel NOW (although they may have been thinking about their remodeling project for several years)
  2. Results similar to pictures they’ve seen online and exactly what’s shown in their design  plans
  3. Their investment to be as low as possible

Only ONE #1 Priority

These are all important priorities for homeowners. Life, and 35 years of experience in remodeling has taught me that we can have only ONE #1 priority at any time. Other priorities have to fall in line behind the #1 priority.  For this reason, I’m  an advocate for lists! If you make a list first, no matter how long it is, your next step is to assign priority numbers to that list to help you make informed decisions.

Priorities Can  Be Changed!

The contractor and I agreed that if our clients want to remodel their kitchen now, they’ll have to:

  • Pay more money to move to the top of the cabinet maker’s projects, or
  • Find a cabinet maker who’s immediately available

In today’s hot remodeling market, and considering my clients’ budget, neither of these options are possible.  This is why I’m going to talk about contractors and custom products not being available immediately in an upcoming segment of “Today’s Home.” Many homeowners are facing the reality of having to postpone their remodeling projects until sometime in the Spring of 2020 because the great contractors are booked that far in advance..

If my clients are willing to wait a month or two, they’ll get the same results they wanted for the same investment. It’s that simple. All they have to do is to adjust their priorities and move their project start date to later. We’re not talking about asking them to put off their kitchen remodeling project until next year.  If my clients’ kitchen project doesn’t start until August, their new kitchen will be finished by the holidays so they can entertain! Starting their project in August won’t impact their decision to cook meals on their barbecue, but it might impact other activities and events they’ve scheduled.

Communicate About Priorities; They’re Important!

We’ll discover and explore the reality, reasons and ramifications of the project delay in discussions and messages over the next several days. I don’t know their whole story, why they want and need to remodel their kitchen right now. I want to understand so I can help them get through a challenging time. It’s all about Communication: speaking honestly and listening compassionately. Communication is going to be another topic in an upcoming segment of “Today’s Home.”

Why are remodeling priorities so important? They will:

  • Help you set and maintain a realistic budget, a realistic time frame, and realistic expectations
  • Open up conversation with family members who have different priorities
  • Benefit your communication with design professionals and contractors

What’s Your #1 Remodeling Priority?

If you’re planning to remodel your home, think about your priorities. What’s more important:

  • Starting and completing your project on your schedule?
  • Getting the results you want? -or-
  • Staying within your maximum budget?

The bottom line is: You have choices, always! But every choice, every decision has priorities attached. What’s your #1 remodeling priority?

If you’re overwhelmed by your choices, I can help you! Contact me through my website.  I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Houzz. Follow me, and subscribe to my emails about Today’s Home!

Listen to the Podcast:

“Remodel Our Existing Home Or Move To A New Home?”

“Remodel Our Existing Home, or Move To A New Home?”

Existing Home Needs RemodelingNew Home!

           Remodel?         –OR–        New?

 

“Do we stay and remodel our home, or move to a new home?” This question has come up many times in my career, and I’ve lived it personally. The answer is difficult, because it depends on individual circumstances. I’m going to share the same recommendation now as I have in the past: Make lists!

List #1

In 35 years as a professional designer, homeowners have asked so many interesting questions! I love to answer questions! In the coming weeks and months, I’ll share often-asked questions and some of the interesting “back stories” of the homeowners. The questions may be similar, but they require custom answers to fit individualized needs.

Are you a list person? I hope you are, because this is the best way to discover and uncover hidden truths. Get a lined pad and a pencil. The reason I prefer a pad with real paper is that it’s available, even in the middle of the night. You can write notes or add to your lists whenever you think of them.

Draw a vertical line down the middle of the first page – it doesn’t have to be perfect! If you are compelled to use a ruler, it’s okay.  At the top of the page, on the left, write “Reasons to Stay,” what you love about your home and neighborhood.  On the right-hand side, write “Reasons to move,” what you hate about your home and neighborhood. Don’t edit or over-think your list. No one is going to grade you on your exercise.

List #2

There are things you can do to stay in your home, but they’re not going to be inexpensive, especially if your existing home is too small or needs major renovations. But neither is selling your home and moving to a new home! Answering the question about staying or moving is going to require homework. There’s more homework involved in thinking about your project than you imagined. But I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Just take it a step at a time – that’s the only way to get from here to there. Give yourself time to think about your list and create it. Include everyone in the immediate family who has a stake in the outcome.

After you’ve got your lists of reasons, you’ll need to gather information to help you make an informed decision. Having information will give you peace of mind – I guarantee it! After your initial list, the next several pages of your notepad will be dedicated to gathering financial information about your existing home. Get ready to create another list!

What do you need to do to your home – deferred maintenance?

  • Roof repair or replacement?
  • Exterior painting?
  • Interior painting?
  • Plumbing leaks?
  • HVAC repair or replacement?

List #3

What do you want to do to your home to make it more liveable? This list is going to be easy, because I’ve done the work for you! You can get a free copy of the new and improved Homeowner Surveys that I originally created for my book, “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling.” The Homeowner Survey is a total of 27 pages and may take several days to complete. Once you have completed the Homeowner Survey , you can get a preliminary guesstimate from contractors about the range of your investment for what you want to do. If you want more than a guesstimate, here’s what you should do:

  1. Hire a professional designer to create as-built and proposed plans of your home. More details = higher fee. The fee could be as low as $2,500 or more than $6,000. We’ll talk about professional designers’ fees in another segment of “Today’s Home.”
  2. Pay a contractor for an estimate, based on your homeowner survey and the plans.

Homework Required: Buying A New Home

You’ll now have the first half of your question answered, how much you will need to invest to get what you need and want, to stay in your existing home.  The rest is relatively simple math. Here are the logical steps to help you arrive at a complete picture for your investment in a new home. Answer these questions:

  • What is your existing home worth, as is?
  • What’s the balance of your mortgage?
  • How many years before you own your home?
  • What do you pay monthly for your mortgage, taxes and insurance?
  • How much have you spent on fixing and repairing “deferred maintenance” in the past year or two? You can use the previous list about deferred maintenance that you created. If you haven’t spent anything on deferred maintenance, contact the contractor who did the estimate for home remodeling and get estimates for the necessary work.

Lists Complete! What’s Next?

Next, contact a trustworthy real estate agent or look online for comparables from recently-sold homes in your area that will help you answer these questions:

  • What can you reasonably get for your home as is or with minimum repairs?
  • How much will it cost to sell your home? Here’s what to include:
    • Capital gains or losses
    • Real estate fees
    • Closing costs
    • Moving costs
    • Contingencies and unforeseen emergencies

Now you’re ready to gather information about a new home. You can use the same Homeowner Survey to help you find a new home that fulfills your needs and wants. It’s great that there is so much information available online to help you define and decide where you want to move to, and how much you want to pay for a new home. In the greater Portland, Oregon area, I like the John L. Scott website that’s easy to navigate, but you may have a favorite.

Here’s a hint that will help you save information: In the past, what I’ve done to save information is to copy the url of a site and email it to myself with the same subject (i.e., “new home information,” etc.). Most of the real estate sales sites have information about your mortgage payment as it relates to your down payment. There may or may not be information about property taxes and insurance, but you can calculate that using your current mortgage based on the percentages. Write down your estimate for the monthly mortgage, taxes and insurance, then make comparisons:

  • What’s the difference between your new monthly payment and what you’re currently paying? Will your income support the move?
  • What’s the difference between remodeling your existing home and moving to a new home?

Next, weigh other factors, such as:

  • School location and reputation for quality education
  • Proximity to shopping, places of worship, parks and recreation, and public transportation
  • Your existing neighborhood compared to new neighborhoods

Make Your Decision: Remodel Your Existing Home, or Buy A New Home

After you’ve completed this exercise, you are armed with written information that will help you decide whether you should stay and remodel your existing home or move to a new home. It’s a big decision! The great thing about all of this documentation is that it prevents you from getting confused! Selling and buying homes, and home remodeling, is filled with emotions you never knew you had.

To avoid confusion and unwanted emotions, try your best to maintain a level-headed, logical approach. Don’t let anyone whip you into a frenzy of emotions to get you to do something that isn’t in your best long-term interest. This is the advice of a homeowner advocate with 35 years of experience. I’ve had four clients who decided to stay and remodel, and three who decided to move to a new home. My husband and I have done both: Stayed and remodeled, and moved to a new home. We know all about the emotional roller coaster ride to make an informed decision!

Bottom line: Whatever decision you make, your goal is to improve your life. I’m here to help you!

If you’re confused about whether to remodel your existing home or move to a new home, I can (and will) help you make the decision that’s right for you! Contact me to talk about your future.

Listen to the podcast about this subject!

P.S.: Don’t forget to order your free copy of the Homeowner Survey today!

Contractors Want Respect (Just Like You!)

Contractors , Communication and Respect

 

Part 1 contained information about how to find your contractor. Now we’re going to discuss what happens next.

First Meeting and Follow-up

Meetings with contractors should include the major decision-maker(s) when the appointments are scheduled, because communication, compatibility and respect areContractors need Communication and Respect, too! important parts of the working relationship.

When contractors come to your home for the first time, it should be during daylight hours, if possible, so they can see details inside and out that may affect your project.  You may have to accommodate a very early morning appointment, or you may have to take time away from work for the meeting.  They will  want to see your electrical panel and other utility connections, in addition to seeing all areas adjacent to the areas you’re planning to remodel or add.  They  may want to quickly inspect the attic and crawl space (or basement); problems in these areas could also affect your investment. (more…)

Remodeling Horror Story Not Just For Halloween

Remodeling Horror Story: Trick Or Treat?

Remodeling horror story isn't just for Halloween!

The title of this blog is seasonal, but unfortunately, a “Trick or Treat” remodeling horror story happens year ’round. It’s not limited to one type of remodeling project. Here  is a  remodeling “horror” story list, bad experiences that were avoidable:

  • A D-I-Y basement renovation that got out of hand.
  • A master bathroom project that was totally bungled by a designer who acted as the general contractor.
  • A D-I-Y master bedroom expansion into an adjoining bedroom; taking out a bearing wall is a NO-NO!
  • A bad deck replacement done by an unlicensed contractor that left the Homeowners with no legal recourse.
  • A new home that had all of the hot and cold lines swapped by the plumber.
  • A D-I-Y floor refinishing project that ended up with the floor being replaced after the sanding drum was installed backwards, chewing up the floor.
  • Homeowners who had purchased appliances ten years before the actual remodeling, and ended up donating the appliances because they wouldn’t fit in the new kitchen.

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Your Contractor Is Waiting For Your Call!

Your Contractor Wants You To Find Him/Her!

Your contractor is just a phone call away!

The best way to find your contractor is referrals — from neighbors, friends, family, or business associates.  These are your best resources, especially people who’ve remodeled recently.  You can also get referrals from the showrooms you’ve visited.  Don’t rely on advertisements.  They can be misleading.  You’ll be better off to contact your local professional remodeling organizations (NAHB, NARI, or NKBA) for several names and phone numbers.  Most local building departments will not refer contractors. It’s a conflict of interest.

Two Warnings About Referrals:

  • Don’t hire a one-person contractor who says he/she does everything.  An unforeseen family emergency, illness or injury can ruin time projections.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for a general contractor to draw plans, manufacture cabinets, and  work on your project. Overall quality of your project will suffer.

(more…)