Architect looking over schematic drawing
25 October 2017

Ready to Remodel? 10 Tips from Someone Who’s Done it Four Times

Remodeling a home can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Let a self-proclaimed remodeling junkie (and Marvin employee) walk you through what you need to know.

  1. Remodeling is a big commitment, get your ducks in a row first. Consider whether you have the time, money and mental fortitude to remodel a home. Do your research so you can accurately estimate the cost of your remodel, determine how much you can spend, and identify your priorities.
  2. Get to know your home. Don’t be afraid to live in a house for awhile to understand how you use it, and how it could function better. Living in the home can give you a perspective that might not be as clear if the changes are completed prior to moving in.
  3. Some investments are worth more than others. If you are concerned about optimizing the return on your investment, research the renovations in your area that yield the best return. It might not be what you think—better insulation and nice garage doors can score high for resale values. Understand what level of finishes are common or expected in your area, like should you paint wood trim white, or leave it natural? What improvements do area homeowners value, and what improvements can possibly detract from the value of your home? Consider how long you plan to live in this home. Be careful not to make design choices that are too personal or stylized. On the other hand, if you aren’t concerned about the return on your investment, do what makes you happy and what works for you and your family.
  4. Prioritize your most-used spaces. You may first want to focus on the areas where you spend the most time, such as the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms also tend to have the highest return on investment. The best results come when your priority is functionality and flow, followed by aesthetics.
  5. Listen to your home. I let the home tell me how it should be remodeled. For example, I don’t try to force a traditional home into becoming a Tudor or mid-century home. You can update a home while still staying true to its original architecture.
  6. Evaluate your skills, realistically. Do you want to or are you capable of doing any of the work yourself, or do you need to hire a general contractor? It’s easy to overestimate your aptitude when it comes to tackling home repairs or even demo work—and when life gets in the way, it can become hard to follow through. Be realistic about what you can do yourself, and calculate your budget accordingly.
  7. Ask the right questions when choosing a professional. Angie’s List, Houzz, Thumb Tack, local lumberyards, other sub-contractors and realtors are useful resources to help you find reputable and positively reviewed sub-contractors. Complete the research first so you know they are licensed and insured. Ask them:
    – if they have time for your project within your timeline
    – to share referrals from other homeowners—and make sure you talk to those homeowners
    – for a portfolio or samples of their work
    – what their payment terms are, including if a cash discount is available
    – how they handle project overages
  8. Get multiple bids. Solicit at least three bids from different professionals, and remember that price is not the most important factor to consider. Select the contractor who was able to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction and shares your vision for the project.
  9. Get inspired. Find inspiration from sources like local Artisan Home Tours, home improvement stores, HGTV and Pinterest.
  10. When the work has started, don’t stress. Remind yourself that as dirty as it gets, it doesn’t last forever. Understand that mistakes can happen, unexpected developments can occur and timelines can get extended. Keep top of mind that the outcome is worth the time and effort put in to get exactly what you want in a home.

Laura Haglund-Howieson is a Senior Market Research Analyst at Marvin. She and her husband have completed four home remodels, learning a lot of valuable lessons along the way.