Sandy: Hey, Tom, what splendiferous topic for our readers is swilling around your head?
Tom: Well, I have been thinking about that. As you know, I do a fair amount of consulting with homeowners who are considering a remodel. On occasion, I end up dissuading them from moving forward.
Sandy: Way to go, Tom. Talk yourself out of work.
Tom: Well better to do it then rather than after the remodel is started and folks regret decisions they have made.
Sandy: This is true. I bet people are actually grateful for informed and candid information.
Tom: Yes, they are. It really is a great service.
Sandy: So, what are some of the circumstances you have found that would make you try to talk folks out of remodeling?
Tom: There is a variety, of course. One of the most common I encounter is when folks are wanting to sell their home that they have been in for 20-plus years. The thinking goes something like, well these counters, cabinets, bathroom etc. will never entice a buyer. They feel they are just too out of date.
Sandy: And so they want to replace everything? Why is that bad?
Tom: Trying to decide what a potential buyer, whom you do not know, might want to do with the home is like consulting a Ouija Board.
Sandy: So, you are saying not to guess at major replacement items like kitchen counters, cabinets, that sort of stuff?
Tom: Yes, that is exactly what I am suggesting. I can tell you that we have torn out brand new kitchens that new owners want to change.
Sandy: That could be $50,000-plus for a kitchen. I would say your advice is sound in this regard. What are some other “bad” reasons for remodeling?
Tom: I would say the next “bad” reason for remodeling is to overbuild for the neighborhood. You should consider the neighborhood’s general home values and try to stay close to the maximum.
Sandy: Well, doesn’t that presume the current homeowner plans to sell in the next few years?
Tom: Yes, Sandy, as always, you are correct. If you do think you might be moving in five years or less, then be cautious. If you plan on this renovation to make this home your home for decades, then do what makes it work for you. I spend quite a bit of time meeting with buyers before they buy, helping them decide if the remodel they want to do on a potential purchase will be too costly or just right.
Sandy: I have heard you say that the last thing a homeowner should do is spend six figures on a major remodel and when it is over, look back and say, “I wish we would have done this or that.”
Tom: Yes, not spending that extra $10,000 to get what you really want can haunt you.
Sandy: So, if you’re are planning on staying in your home, do it up, do it right. If you might be leaving or desiring to sell, then pay attention to market values. You can get a read on those through online sites like Zillow or contact a local realtor who can help with those determinations.
Tom: Good advice, Sandy, and you said it more succinctly than I did.
Sandy: So, what else is a bad reason for renovating your home?
Tom: As you know, renovation trends change from year to year. If your goal is to keep up with all things new and shiny, be prepared to spend tens upon tens of thousands of dollars each year or two.
Sandy: Sound advice, but I am seeing what you mean about talking yourself out of business.
Tom: Well, the last thing you or I want is to have a client that suffers from buyer’s remorse. That helps no one.
Sandy: Absolutely. At YCCA, we always try to put the homeowner’s best interest first.
Tom: That is what sets you apart.
Sandy: The crux of this conversation is to help folks be aware of WHY they are remodeling. Kind of a full-disclosure, eyes-wide-open. Good stuff, Tom!
Hey Tom, another question popped into my mind. What about simpler “refresh” projects like flooring, painting, that sort of thing?
Tom: If the house needs painting, then that might help a sale. Your realtor may help you with that decision. If an offer is made on your home as-is, consider it relative to what you might have spent on a kitchen or bath. New flooring is always great, as long as it is relatively congenial.
Sandy: Tom, if you were to give our readers a couple of closing tips on a house remodel, what would they be? We all know that in planning a house remodel, it can be tempting to skip to the exciting stage of choosing new paint colors, fixtures and fittings, but in order for any renovation to go smoothly, there are several things to think about before you even begin. So what are a couple of those “things?”
Tom: No. 1, know your end goal. Before anyone decides how extensively to renovate, you need to know what your end goal is for your home. Are you renovating to raise the resale value of your home or will you be staying put for years to come? Consider the condition of your neighborhood before you begin, and know which renovations are a good return on investment and which will be considered overdoing it for the area. These are the same tips mentioned earlier in our conversation, however, it’s always best to end with repeated information.
Sandy: I would say that knowing your budget and sticking to it is one of the most important parts of renovation planning. Remember to add in a contingency fund for any unexpected costs – and expect to use it – as well as incidental costs like the cost of eating out for a kitchen renovation. It can be easy to want a top-of-the-line renovation, but perhaps all you need are some less costly upgrades that will make your house look more expensive. Do your research and plan your budget before ever lifting a hammer.
Tom: You are spot on, Sandy. The end goal and budget, both critically important.
Sandy: Great information, Tom, and thanks for being our wise sage in the building arena. You are indeed a valued partner.
Together, Tom and I say “Happy February to you.” Until next month. Thanks for stopping in to read At Home With Tom and Sandy. QCBN
Tom Reilly, LEED Accredited Professional, Architect, Contractor, Renovations 928-445-8506 www.renovationsaz.com
Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association. 928-778-0040
Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM/95.5FM or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners. Hammer Time is a great way to start your weekend.