Friday, July 25, 2008

Beginning The Remodeling Process

Why Remodel?

That is a HUGE question in a lot of peoples' minds...It is full of positive and negative feelings...If we remodel, we're going to enjoy it so much more. But we are going to spend tons of money. Mixed feelings are the difficulty, which makes the decision process of what you want, how you want it to look, and the final look and craftsmanship of the project so important. We have a lakefront walk-out in Michigan, so even in a recession, there is inherent value which makes cost less of an issue and you hope (eventually) you will be able to recover most, if not all of your investment.

If you are a person that likes to hire a contractor to do everything from start to finish, you may want to stop reading now. I am a committed do-it-yourselfer. My favorite shows: This Old House - even though some of the stuff they do anymore is beyond do it yourself, anything on HGTV, and of course, Norm Abrahams New Yankee Workshop. I love working with wood. And it never ceases to amaze me what people pay to have remodeling done and when I see the finished results, I am sometimes appalled. I have seen remodels that I wouldn't have paid for and in some circumstances, taken the contractor to small claims court over the job they did. But, if you like to spend your money remodeling and yelling at your contractor continuously throughout the process, please continue to do so. Unfortunately, I can't be of much help in that area. Maybe I can help some with ideas.

Where I can help is with the guy that wants to tackle a big job, but is intimidated or scared or doesn't have the first clue where to begin. I will walk you through my though process: Idea phase, planning phase, building and finally completion stage.

I like to think a project through from the initial idea to the completion phase. Often, I don't even know where I am going or what to start with. But, I get a blank sheet of grid paper and lay out the existing dimensions of the particular room I am working on and start doodling. It always helps the thought process and I usually come up with great ideas.

Eann and I have been remodeling our current house since we bought it in November of 2000. It was a diamond in the rough, but it was a nicer and newer diamond than our previous house. Or, at least I thought it was. I finished the lower walkout level in the first 3 years we lived there. When we bought the house, there was only cinder block and exposed joists in an unfinshed basement. Why did it take so long? Well, I put in a bathroom, bar, fireplace and guest bedroom - and I did it myself. I finished approximately 1,200 square feet of space that included drywall ceilings and walls, added noise reduction insulation to the ceiling, pulled wire, copper plumbing, added black pipe gas lines for an outdoor grill, indoor fireplace and eventual kitchen remodel and the floor is ceramic tile. The only thing I didn't do myself was mud and tape the drywall. That was a $1,200 check well written as it would have added tons of (my) time to the project. On a budget of $15,000, (that ended up about $1,000 over due to the cabinets and granite bar counter tops) we finished off that space and love the compliments we get and truly enjoy the space that was created. Finished photos of that project can be found in the entry titled Basement Remodel.

Then, we remodeled the Master Suite, adding a jacuzzi tub and a much large shower, complete with dual shower heads, linen closet, dual sinks and his and her walk in closets. We managed to keep the cost of that project under $14,000 doing it ourselves, finding internet deals on the tub and Hans-Grohe faucets, working with a discount tile store for the natural stone travertine tile we used and, most importantly, doing it ourselves. You can see finished pictures of that remodel in the post titled Master Bath.

Throughout the Kitchen Remodel blog, I will try to offer the do-it-yourselfer money and time saving tips, value enhancing ideas, and tips on craftsmanship that will help your projects come out with professional look that you will be proud to display and have people wondering, and asking, "Who's your contractor and what does he charge?"

Next Entry: The Kitchen IDEA Takes Shape

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