The hubs and I decided to take on a huge endeavor. We voluntarily decided to bring into our lives stress, financial burden, confusion, headache and heart burn for that matter.
Obviously with the title of this post, you know what we decide to do and that was to take on huge remodel. Yes, we stepped into the crazy and unpredictable world of renovating.
The hubs and I moved from out of state and rented for awhile while we shopped for a new home. Searching for a new home for 6 months. That is a whole other stress ball. Deciding if we should get a brand new house, newer-ish home, build a house or get a pre-existing house. If we decide to get a pre-existing house, how old are we willing to go?
We ended up going with an older home because of the amazing neighborhood. And when I say older, I mean almost 40-years old. But, the schools are amazing, I saw a lot of potential and it hit most of our “must-have’s.” However, like I said, this house was old so it needed a lot of updating and we decided we needed to tackle to two bathrooms and add a master closet that wasn’t there before. There were two closets (his and hers) but decided to remove those sliding door closets and take advantage of the space. For what we wanted to do, we had to do the two bathrooms at the same time because we were moving walls to make a new closet and making the master bathroom larger and the hall bath smaller. For what we wanted to do, we had no choice but to basically gut 1/3 of our upstairs.
We lived in an apartment for 1/3 of the construction which included demolition, which was the biggest part, but we did live at the new house for the rest of the 2/3rds of the time frame. It was difficult to live with workers coming in and out all day every day and not being able to use our master bedroom or bathrooms upstairs. Luckily we had one small bathroom downstairs that we could occupy while everything was being finished. For the plans we decided on, both bathrooms had to be worked on at the same time to get what we wanted. We were extremely lucky to have a third bathroom.
It was definitely a hard project to take on, especially all at the same time, but there are some ways that made the whole experience so much easier to deal with.
Number 1, I cannot express to you the importance of getting an architect or construction designer to help you achieve your vision. Believe me. With a project like we did, there are so many variables that can happen. I met with approximately 10 construction companies for a bid and I assumed they could give me their ideas for the project/space, but why would I want their ideas? Part of it was because I was completely lost on what we could and couldn’t do with the space.
The contractors are also are just guessing what they can and can’t do with the space by walking through and offering suggestions. I decided I didn’t want to be surprised with what the contractor decided to do with little or a lot of input from us during the middle of it.
I decided to hire a kitchen and bath designer and found Rachel Hutchens through Houzz. She had won some awards and I was able to see some of her previous remodel work and they looked fabulous. We met for coffee and I explained what we were trying to do. She told me that she would work her CAD (computer design program) to layout my house and we could come up with a design that my husband and I loved. The best part was that once it was drawn out and we could see what it actually looked like, we were able to make some changes right then and there, it was easy. It wouldn’t be so easy during demolition. Especially if once it was demoed, the contractor realized that something in our “vision” wouldn’t work once the walls were out, and have to make changes and “hope” they worked or that we liked the changes. Rachel was able to make the changes we wanted to see in just a few minutes and show it to us in 3D too.
New designs by Rachel Hutchens
Rachel helped me meet with some contractors to ensure I was asking the right questions. She was also really helpful when it came to bids and let me know if I was being overcharged or if what they were stating didn’t add up. She has worked in construction for 20 years and has the experience to know what is right and what is wrong. She is my designer and contruction advocate.
We did do quite a few revisions. What I had I my head didn’t work with some space and budget. It is important to lay it all out and actually see if you can afford the changes you want made. Some of our first revisions included things that could be worked around, but if we didn’t see it first, could have been really expensive.
Another benefit to hiring someone like Rachel was having Rachel email the potential contractors the exact construction drawings that included a scope of work (all the work and tasks that will need to be done) so that the contractors can see exactly what walls will be removed, rebuilt and it is all measured out exactly. There is no confusion Each potential contractor is getting the same information on what the job entails and are able to give us an exact bid. it didn’t become someone’s interpretation of the project against someone else’s complete different interpretation, thus giving us two completely different bids. There were no surprises or unexpected costs that are very common with remodel work that you go into “blind.”
There was zero miscommunication, that made a happier and less stressed us.
My biggest pieces of advice if you are about to enter a remodel is to:
1. Have a professional draw out your project.
2. Get bids from contractors who each have the same information.
3. Pick your contractor.
4. provide them the drawings that include all measurements of the house, demolition drawings, rebuilding drawings, specifications sheet which includes scope of work.
Having done those steps made our renovation life so much easier. I am a control freak and I knew that my project was being taken care of to our specifications and I could focus on the design of the project, like picking out tile, paint, countertops, cabinets etc. Having a contractor calling me all day everyday with questions would have just added so much unnecessary stress on top of the stress of a remodel.
This post is focused on what I recommend when starting a remodel having gone through a major renovation. The next post will have my after pics of the job and the details of where I purchased everything. Stay tuned for that.
If you interested in contacting Rachel for your project, she is based in Utah and will travel to meet you. If you live out of state and would like to have a conversation over the phone, she does that too. She will send you the designs to your project over email. She can help even if you don’t live in Utah. I can’t recommend her highly enough. She was a pleasure to work with and truly helped us get exactly what we were looking for with our remodel.