Warning! Ignore all these remodeling 101 posts this week if you have no interest in ever remodeling or care what other people do. I’ve had people asking us about our fall remodeling projects for months though, so I’m finally taking the time to pen the installments I promised.
Today, I’m writing an introduction of why we wanted to remodel and how we started off. Then I’ll write a little about our process and experience. Next, I’ll share our lessons learned. And finally I’ll wrap up with a little epilogue of stuff folks don’t talk about after “finishing.”
So why did we do it? We are incredibly fortunate to live in a nice neighborhood near our church and the kid’s school. We plan to stay in this house. My husband and his brother bought this house as a tear down and remodeled the main living spaces (gutted the kitchen, living area, repainted, put in a new foundation and carpet). That big remodel happened in 2003. When Bray and I married in 2006, we bought his brother out so we would own it together.
We did some projects. We purchased a new roof after Hurricane Ike. Later, we bought new AC units (so sexy). We undertook more visible projects too including remodeling the guest/now-kids bathroom. There are only two bathrooms and that one was ALL black, so we took on the general contractor role and spent about $20,000 designing and remodeling the space with subcontractors. The layout still functions even though I’d do things differently now (primarily I would never have gotten a jetted tub which now doesn’t work).
After the kids were born we remodeled the backyard. The layout stayed the same but we ripped up all the broken pebble-crete around the pool, regrounded electrical, retiled the edge of the pool, laid stamped concrete, and installed an iron fence. Luckily, with the triplets on swim team, the iron fence is now gone and we can enjoy the full backyard without the big protective fencing.
But never have we done an in-your-face, live-in-dust, spend-all-your-money remodel.
For years, I have dreamed of having a few things: (a) an extra toilet, two is one too few, (b) a laundry room people don’t walk through (ours was in the center of the house and people walked through it to get to the back half of the house), and (c) a mud room for the kids to dump their crap.
Not to mention, we had an OLD master bathroom. We have a big master bedroom and bathroom footprint, but the sink counter was formica, the mirror had the Parthenon sketched on it, there was one sink, two small closets, and one plastic shower with brass trim on the glass. Lovely. I lived with it because folks rarely saw our bathroom so we managed.
(Looking in: toilet and shower in same stall, first two photos; walking in from bedroom you saw the long counter with ugly mirror and lowered ceiling and then walk into my tiny closet from there – I also used the guest room closet.)
The house is a late 1960s one story home and it functions well. The guys made it open concept in 2003, so you can see from the front door to the backyard. The kitchen is the heart and is plenty big. As you may remember from last year, we had to buy a new fridge, and our stove is on the fritz, but for the most part all the boys did in 2003 has hung together well.
There was a chance we might have had to move in the spring and that led us to discuss what needed to be done to the house if we wanted to rent it out. An extra bathroom and upgraded master were high on the list. We started thinking through the project. If we planned to spend X dollars, why not spend a little more and get all the stuff that needed to be done to the back half of the house accomplished in one fell swoop.
When the move didn’t happen, we kept talking about the fixes which would help us as well as add value.
So I made a list. Relocate laundry room. Add a half bath close to the backyard. Find space for a mud room. Redo the master bath with two sinks and more closet space.
Then we started looking at everyone else’s space. What did we like? What wouldn’t work in our house?
We asked for remodeling recommendations. I started collecting them. Ultimately, I collected 12 names of companies, architects, contractors, or designers.
Remarkably, half of them never even responded. After several outreaches, I wrote those off. One person made an appointment and forgot to show. (She did call later to apologize but I couldn’t bear to reset the appointment – if you’re already flaking before the job, I couldn’t risk it.) So I interviewed the rest.
That’s where we pick up the story tomorrow on the process. If you’re about to start remodeling, don’t read it. It’s not pretty.