I'm doing it. It's happening. My house is getting a makeover and there are no TV cameras to capture it, no host to give a play-by-play, no viewing audience in the millions. The single 1940s floor gas heater I've huddled around in the winter will be gone, the ancient metal casement windows replaced, the outside insulated, the inside reconfigured.
It was a hard decision to make about eight months ago when I was considering buying a new house and moving. But the rising housing market in Albuquerque put most houses in my neighborhood out of reach. All I really needed was one more room and more energy efficient features. And to get the #@%! washer and dryer stack moved out of my already small kitchen.
If you've ever asked among friends and acquaintances around here, you've probably heard countless horror stories about satanic contractors that take your money and leave gaping holes where your windows once were or fly by night construction crews that never finish the job. But it doesn't have to be like that. Here's what I've learned about starting a remodel in the Duke City:
Hire an architect or designer with construction management knowledge. Someone who can do your plans, advise you, help you locate contractors for bids and check in on the actual construction as the process continues. I went with Base8
and have been delighted with the care and attention to detail during the design process.
Investigate your contractor. You don't need a private detective following them around on Friday night, but do check in with the Better Business Bureau
, find out if previous customers are happy and do a web search for reviews. My contractor for the project is Pennington Builders
. They've left a long list of satisfied customers in their wake and I expect that trend to continue with me.
It takes longer than you think to get to the ground breaking. Revising plans, making big decisions, checking on permit requirements and getting bids takes a ton of time. Good contractors usually have full schedules, so you'll have to be patient on when they can fit you in.
You might have to move out. I was hoping it could be staged in pieces so I wouldn't have to completely clear out the house, but that didn't work out. Be prepared to find a willing friend or family member to take you and your pets in or look into a short term apartment situation.
Windows are expensive. Divided light windows that looked in keeping with the original windows that were on the home were very important to me. You can save a bit if you go with vinyl, but you may want to pay more for wood with divided lights.
may be an option for you. I had no idea that there was a choice besides forced air (radiant floor heat was not a viable option for my particular house). I'll be kicking it old school with a modern twist by going hydronic with a super efficient boiler and sleek radiators that are the new versions of the radiator systems I grew up with in Victorian-era houses in Illinois. Retro!
Construction costs are sky high. Your bids will come in higher than you think and you need to be prepared to either scale back or put more cash in. In my case, the second bathroom and pergola I had wanted weren't as big a necessity as the heating system, windows, insulation, restuccoing and music room.
While the real estate market has eased a bit around here, many current home owners may find a remodel to be a better option than buying a new (or new used) place. This shouldn't be as epic as Chantal's famous DIY kitchen rehab
, but I'll let you know how it turns out in about four months!
CC Photo Header by gullevek.