Where/how/when do you get started? Having gone through a fairly major remodel myself, I’ll share a few tips that might save you some hassle.
When I bought my place in 2002, it had been beaten quite soundly with the ugly stick (think brown shag carpet, heavy brown drapes, huge florescent box light fixtures, and a kitchen that nearly made a grown woman cry — that would be me). First things first: out came that nasty brown carpet, which revealed original 1908 oak floors. Down came the oh-so-hideous light fixtures. In went some spiffy new paint colors.
But that left the kitchen. Oh, that kitchen. That took a while longer to sort out. The “getting started” part took me about four years.
Tip #1: Don’t put it off that long. Things don’t get cheaper as time marches on.
Tip #2: Hire a good designer or architect to figure out how to put your dreams into the space — and budget — allotted.
Tip #3: Figure out how much you can comfortably afford. Multiply it by 2. Plan to spend that much. (I’m kind of joking. But not really.)
Tip #4: Interview contractors. I interviewed four contractors, liked the first one the most, and hired him even though his bid was the highest. Why? He put a tremendous amount of time into preparing a detailed estimate. Another reason his bid was high is because he lives in Boston and would have to travel. I know it sounds crazy but friends of mine that live there had him renovate their whole home and when I tell you it is the most amazing transformations I have ever seen and I have seen my share plus some. His Boston home improvement company is very sought after so when he agreed to put a bid in I was ecstatic. The others were lower but didn’t include a lot of what would be essential to the project — you know, stuff like debris removal. Check references, check license status, and if you’re into online reviews, check those too.
Tip #5: If you’re in San Francisco, skip tip #4 and hire Steve Olson of Olson Design & Construction.
A little more about this: I’d heard from friends who had weathered their own remodeling projects that they all hated their contractors by the end. By the end of my remodeling job, I was incredibly impressed with Steve’s scheduling prowess and how his crew showed up on time each day, cleaned up when they left, and made noticeable progress each day. He’s also got a great eye for design, and he made some suggestions that improved on the original design. The final bill came in within 1-2% of the budget, and a few years later, I’m still thrilled with my fabulous new kitchen and living room.
Now, doesn’t that sound easy?