Is your home looking a little tired? Many people live with a worn-out house for too long because the remodeling process can seem too overwhelming. The trick is to prioritize the things that will give the most bang for the buck. So what really matters when it comes to spiffing up your home? We asked the experts to weigh in.
Miguel A. Suro
I’m Miguel A. Suro, a Miami attorney and personal finance and lifestyle blogger at The Rich Miser. My title is Founder. My wife Lily Rodriguez and I run the site and have been seen on major outlets such as MarketWatch, Forbes, and WalletHub.
In 2016, we did an extensive remodel of our Miami house, and learned many valuable lessons. Here are the most important considerations:
Cost and timeline
A remodel will almost always go over budget and past the expected completion date. This can be for reasons as simple as changes that you decide to request or unexpected surprises lurking behind the walls. Yours won’t be the exception.
Look and style
An unusual-looking remodel will probably bring down the value of your house, even if you personally like it. If there’s even a remote possibility that you may sell the house in the next couple of decades, the design should appeal to mainstream buyers. If you don’t know much about design, hire a design and construction firm for the remodel.
Ask to see examples of prior work
If you don’t like their style or aesthetic, go with someone else.
Low-quality materials will deteriorate quickly, so make sure to use good, solid materials. Also, avoid “fragile” stuff like marble, since it’s too porous and needs too much maintenance. Favor modern tile for the floor and quartz for countertops (or similar materials).
Make sure to do a fully-permitted renovation. Cutting corners here could mean an unsafe and low-quality house, and you’ll probably be obligated to disclose unpermitted work if you later try to sell the place. Plus, if you get caught, the government might make you tear everything down.
Make sure your contractor is licensed and insured
Going with someone who is unlicensed and uninsured can not only be illegal, but expose you and your family to shoddy work. Plus, if something goes wrong, there might be no one to make a claim against.
Spend the most on the “showcase” parts of your house, such as the kitchen
This will help raise the value of the house (and impress your guests). Spend less on far-flung bedrooms and areas that don’t get much foot traffic.
For many, the number one consideration will be money. Once you’ve established your home remodel budget, you should then consider how much of the job you can take on yourself. The more you can do on your own, the more you’ll get for your money.
That said, it is important to be honest about your skills and tools. Taking on too much can end up costing more, in the end. So be realistic and realize we live in a time when there are a host of available services to help with do-it-yourself projects.
Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer, Truxx
It is important to have a realistic budget for your home remodel project before you start and before you hire a contractor. Creating a realistic budget involves two parts where the first one is to have an itemized list of all the materials and products required for your project.
A kitchen remodel is a great example where you should list out all the appliances, the upper and lower cabinets, countertops, fixtures, flooring, etc. The second step is to research different products and brands for each item on the [list] because these price points have a dramatic impact on your overall budget. It also helps you establish not only the budget, but what products and brands you like.
Planning a home remodel is an exciting time. It’s also a stressful time that can quickly grow out of hand if you don’t take the steps necessary to do things correctly.
First, set a budget. Talk to your bank, look at your finances, and decide exactly what you want to spend. It’s tempting to look first and price later, but this can quickly lead to disappointment or a blown budget.
Next, interview three remodelers to do the work. Ask to see their portfolios, and ask for their advice on what they would do in your home. Work with someone that will work with you – your budget, your tastes, and your home.
Think hard about practicality and function in your home. Just because something is beautiful or trendy doesn’t mean it will work in your space.
Don’t start anything until everything has arrived. Materials take time to arrive after ordering. If there has been a delay, it could leave you with a torn out house while you wait. Even if the remodeler wants to move ahead, wait until everything is there.
Check all materials as they arrive! Make sure that you get what you ordered, and that it’s not damaged.
Cristina Miguelez is a content manager at Fixr.com, a home remodeling information website that provides cost guides, comparisons, and term cheatsheets for hundreds of remodeling, installation and repair projects.
Upgrade the Garage Door
While it may not be the first thought when thinking of a home remodel, replacing your old garage door is a relatively inexpensive upgrade that can give a home a whole new look while also being a sure return on investment when looking to sell.
Solid, steel-paneled, roll-up doors are the most common types of garage doors. Consider replacing them with something more modern or unique to better catch the eye of potential buyers. Try a wood-finished sliding door with windows for an upscale classy look or an aluminum framed glass door for an ultra-sophisticated modern style. Replacing an old door for one with some elegant touches will give the entire homes façade an updated look and will be sure to attract buyers.
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