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The Road to Remodeling Success

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

I hope you and yours are safe and frayed nerves have started to heal after our earthquake. If you have plans to remodel, I hope it is out of pre-planned desire and not due to earthquake damage. Today’s column and the next were written in preparation for a seminar that I will be giving at Abbey Carpet and Flooring related to choosing tile and countertop materials. The seminar will be held September 25th and 27th. Contact me for more information.

No matter the scope of your remodeling project, there are three words that can help it go more smoothly. “Plan, plan, plan”. I admit to being an over-planner. My friend, Jane, teases me about it every year when I schedule our college friends’ annual summer weekend. She teases me because I send out the first email in March. That’s because I, having coordinated many a design project, know that nothing is ever – and I mean never, ever, ever - as straightforward and simple as it seems. And so, because of my early and steadfast planning, all friends near and far are able to make it to sunny Napa without a hitch.

With detailed and timely planning, your remodel also has a better chance of happening without a hitch. A wise strategy will produce a better outcome with a more cohesive design, optimal function, and interesting (not the basic ho-hum) materials. If well-planned from the beginning, you’re more apt to stay within budget and improve your property’s market value to boot.

Planning takes “pazienza”. Patience. When homeowners dive in without doing their homework, they make knee-jerk decisions and impulse purchases. This comes with a price (restock fees and labor change orders) or long-term regret (living with subpar and compromised choices).

What goes into this planning? Homework and soul-searching:

1) Ask yourself why you want to remodel. What do you hope to achieve? What financial and personal value do you expect the outcome to bring?

2) List words that convey the look, feel and function you’re looking for. Show your designer and/or contractor pictures so that your words are interpreted as intended.

3) Categorize goals as “musts”, “wants” and “bonuses if budget allows”.

4) Devise a realistic and comfortable budget. Include the intangible value of enjoying the benefits of the end product. Your budget should also reflect another intangible factor – the value of not being disappointed with the end product.

5) Be honest about your budget no matter how big or small. This allows your professional team to guide you wisely and deliver the best affordable results.

6) Design as much as possible before demolition or construction begins. Although tedious, this strategy will save you from costly change orders down the line.

7) Have key materials in hand before starting any demolition to avoid costly labor delays, schedule disruption, or the reselection of discontinued materials.

8) Avoid delaying decisions and changing your mind too often. This can wreak havoc on the entire project.

9) If working with a designer, don’t reject ideas outright even if they are a bit outside your comfort zone. Your designer’s job is to bring the creative factor to the project, to think outside the box, to enhance all ideas, and to deliver results more spectacular than you originally imagined.

10) Surround yourself with good people and good vendors - architects, contractors, designers, and all other parties with which you can build a trusting, supportive, and communicative relationship.

11) Lastly, try to enjoy the journey. Making something better is always a good thing.

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