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Remodeling your home can be something to dread or something to really look forward to. One thing that will help you to look forward to your remodel is knowing the 5 W’s of remodeling.

1 | Why?

Taking the time to figure out the ‘why’ of your remodel is akin to creating a mission statement for your business. Thinking through the ‘why’ will help keep you focused when creating your remodel plan. Your ‘why’ can be complex but, here are a few simple thoughts for determining exactly what your ‘why’ really is.

  • Quality of Life: Maybe you plan to stay in the home with the intent of spending your golden years there or you are planning on bringing your folks home. You are interested in improvements that accommodate change and functionality.
  • Quality of Life and Future Sale: You plan on living in the home until the kids hit their college years. You plan to get some enjoyment out of the upgrades and you have a long view for the resale value in mind as well.
  • Resale: You would like to try your own fixer-upper with the intent of selling soon after the remodel.

In any case, checking out the Cost vs. Value Report will help you to determine the return on investment (ROI) for your project. When comparing the reports of the last couple of years, garage door replacements consistently provide that ROI homeowners are looking for. The report for 2019 shows garage door replacements have a whopping return rate of 102.8%. Other projects that are doing well in 2019 are midrange bathroom additions at 61.2%, midrange and upscale bathroom remodels at 66%, minor kitchen remodels at 73.5%, wood deck additions at 74.5%, window replacement at 72.5%, and roofing at 69.8%. For more project types and reports from recent years, check out the Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine for annual reports by major cities.

2 | Who will do the work, DIY or professional?

Rosie on the House Couple DIY

Whether you are planning a DIY project or hiring a professional there are many parts of the job that might be best handled or supervised by a professional. Consider hiring specific trade professionals if the remodel requires duct or AC modification, electrical, re working plumbing or roofing work.

If structural changes are desired consult a draftsman or structural engineer as they will be able to pinpoint load-bearing needs. Check out Rosie’s How To Choose A Contractor Consumer Guide for tips on hiring a professional.

3 | When do we want the job to be complete?

Start with determining when you would like to have the project completed. If a remodeling contractor will be doing the job, he should have a good idea of when he can schedule your project, the time needed for permits, and the time needed to complete the project.

If this is a DIY project be sure to build in the time it takes to permit by checking with your local municipality to find out if your permit will take days or weeks. The waiting period varies greatly depending on the city and number of permits being pulled at any given time.

4 | What do I need to know about permits?

If a home was built before 2000 it is unlikely to be up to date when it comes to meeting the minimum requirements of today that building officials consider to be safe, healthy and permitted. However, you’re not required to update your house as codes change unless you’re doing some remodeling work and even then, only the new part has to meet the new regulations.

Typically, the only exception to this is smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Most cities will require your home’s smoke/carbon monoxide detectors to meet current standards when a permit is pulled. Still, upgrading your home to comply with changing building codes isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it can make your family safer and make your home more comfortable to live in. An important component to know is that when it comes to resale, if you want an addition to count as part of the home’s square footage, it must be permitted.

Common DIY’s that require permitting are:

  • Installing a fan
  • Turning a carport into a garage
  • Converting a garage into a livable space
  • Putting a patio roof over a patio
  • Turning a patio into a livable space
  • Running all gas lines – even lines to the barbeque
  • The addition of a fireplace or fire pit

5 | Where will we stay during the project?

Remodeling can be stressful. Ideally, you will not have to stay in the home during the mess depending on how big your project is. At the very least it would be great if you could find accommodations during the demolition. If you prefer to stay in the home, it will take some creativity and workarounds. We have seen clients cook on camp stoves, bath in pots and move their bedroom to the living room. Overall, the project will go much smoother if you keep a sense of humor and keep telling yourself, ‘this too shall pass.’

BONUS: What else do I need to know?

It is important to have your home lead and asbestos tested before you begin if your home was built in 1980 or before. A professional test will cost a couple hundred dollars. Common places to check for asbestos are drywall, the mastic under the flooring, insulation, and ductwork. For lead, the tests will be around windows and doors and painted surfaces. If your home tests positive for either of these the job is best handled by lead and asbestos certified contractors.

It is also important to spend time planning and creating a budget. The time you put into the project BEFORE you start will pay off exponentially in the end. Planning helps you avoid mistakes, expensive redo’s, and also give you time to find the best value when shopping. You will be miles ahead if you can get to the point that you have all of your selections made before you start demolition.

If you keep that big “WHY” top of mind, it will help you get through the process and provide a level of accomplishment when you arrive at the finished results.


Photo Credits:

  • Shutterstock

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