Top Remodeling Tips

Remodeling your home has become all the rage these days but before you turn your playroom into a home theater, here are some things to consider:


When you begin to dream about all the projects you would like to tackle in your home, they may all seem like top priorities. However, if you write them all down and give them time to settle out, some will naturally rise to the top of the heap. The same is true for your spouse – there are some things that he or she would rank at the top of his or her list that may not coincide with your list. In the end, though, it makes sense to make sure that the top priorities of both partners is represented.


Once you have your plans clearly mapped out, price the entire project. You may be surprised at how quickly it becomes cheaper to build a brand new home than to remodel your existing home! But by planning it all out ahead of time, you can be careful not to let the cost spiral out of control. And remember – when pricing the project, think past the drywall and paint and consider what you will need to decorate the room when it is finished. Include this in the cost so you don’t end up without the necessary draperies or furniture to complete the room. Also, by doing the leg work in advance, you can research cheaper alternatives.


Sometimes, it makes sense to divide the project into separate phases so that it is more manageable. By laying everything out on paper, then breaking it up into smaller projects, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and better manage the overall costs.

When considering a remodel project for your home, think about your budget and weigh that against what’s most important to your family. Once you are confident that the project or projects you have chosen represent what really matters to you and your spouse, relax! Making decisions is the hardest part, but taking your time and working everything out on paper first will save you time and money – and heartache – in the long run.

Tips For a Successful Remodel

Remodeling a home is always a challenge.  Whether you do the work yourself or hire someone to do it, it involves a LOT of time, details, and emotion.  After all, you are tasked with making a ton of little decisions, all of which will immediately affect both your pocketbook and your day-to-day life almost immediately.

As a homeowner of a rental property, but also with the unique perspective of co-owning a construction business, there are a couple of hints/tips I can offer that might help someone starting out in this endeavor.  I am in the middle of hiring a contractor for our rental property in another city myself; so, I thought I’d pass along these thoughts.

Tip #1:  Always ask, don’t tell

Construction has got to be the only career on the planet where everyone thinks they know more than the contractor.  How many people walk into a doctor’s office and tell the doctor how to treat their illness?  In contrast, so many people treat contractors like they have no knowledge of insulation and tile.  If you will ask the contractor’s opinion about EVERYTHING you are considering doing, you will not only learn a BUNCH of things you didn’t already know but you will also earn his respect.  Respect then translates into savings, both dollars and time savings.

Tip #2:  Listen well

There are some hints that will tip you off about the contractor if you know what to listen for.  For instance, I had two contractors give me opposite stories about the permitting process.  One told me that it is next to impossible to get a permit–that it takes several weeks and that he prefers that I apply for the permit, and the other told me it’s super simple to get a permit–that he can walk in and get the permit the same day at times.  Why the disparity?  Simple.  It’s because the latter contractor is well-liked and respected in the permitting office.  That’s your guy!  You don’t want the guy that the permitting office sticks his paperwork in a corner.

Tip #3:  Get lots of bids

I got three contractors to actually come, look at the work, and provide a bid.  I CALLED about 10.  Several didn’t answer–most didn’t return my call.  One didn’t show.  One never provided a bid.  That’s okay.  I got three reliable contractors, and they each had something really valuable to add to my thought process.  I thanked each of them profusely for their time and expertise.  It is invaluable to have that, and I will pick one of them to perform the work.  So, I wasn’t wasting their time either (that’s an article for another day–soap box alert!).

Tip #4:  Be nice to everyone

It goes without saying that the contractor who likes you and wants to work with you will bend over backward to help you.  Obviously, you have to like him/her as well, but be nice to everyone and then decide privately which one you want to hire.  We had a client who brought us homemade cookies during the construction of her home.  I can assure you that our office adored her!  And, it translated into both savings during her project and even later when she had an issue that was out of warranty.  Too many people go into these projects assuming the worst is going to happen.  Au contraire, it doesn’t have to be that way!  Go in with the power of positive thinking.  Your positive attitude will have a positive effect on the contractor and hopefully the project itself.

While none of this is rocket science, too many of us have forgotten that this is really just a people business, even though there is a tangible outcome.  Treating people with respect, common courtesy, and assuming the best about them will always result in the best outcome.  Of course, there is always the possibility that things will go wrong.  Certainly, there are bad contractors out there, but choosing the right contractor is addressed in my previous article: here.  This article is all about just enjoying the process and getting the most out of it.  Good luck!

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