Jeb Breithaupt, B.Arch, MBA
In over 35 years as a professional home designer, builder and remodeler, I’ve had the benefit of seeing hundreds of remodeling projects, where my clients only see one or two. That means I’ve heard every horror story and remodeling regret in the book and then some. There are some regrets that I hear more than others, and I want to share them with you in hopes that you’ll find them useful when you decide to remodel.
Regret 1: I wish I had planned more.
According to Houzz.com, most homeowners take between 12 and 36 months to start their remodeling projects. That means some people are a little impatient by the time they find a remodeler that they like, and they want to get started right away. The problem arises when deliveries and workmen’s schedules don’t mesh and end up causing major delays and cost increases.
In my experience, just about every remodeling project has something go wrong, but a well-planned and scheduled remodel minimizes those interruptions and makes the entire experience run smoothly.
Regret 2: I wish I didn’t DIY
A lot of homeowners who want to remodel have done some home improvement around their homes– changing out plumbing fixtures, maybe adding a backsplash or installing a new kitchen sink. So when they decide to do a project that’s a little bigger, they might not want to bother finding a remodeler and making appointments, so they start the project themselves.
I was in a home a little while back where the homeowner was turning their tub into a walk-in shower. They wanted to get a head start on the project, so they pulled out the tub and tore out the tiles themselves. But they didn’t have another full bathroom in home, and they couldn’t get the plumber in for another week. They didn’t even have the tile or fixtures for a replacement. That family ended up camping at grandma’s house for the next six weeks.
Regret 3: I wish I hired someone else
That homeowner had another unlucky break during the same shower project. Just as the reality of not having access to a tub or shower was setting in, a contractor knocked on the door and told him he had some leftover tile from the project he was doing in their neighbor’s kitchen. It seemed like great luck, so they paid him half of his estimate up front and he agreed to start the very next day.
I wish I could say I was surprised that they never heard from him again, and a few weeks later they found out from one neighbor that he had gone out of business.
Regret 4: I wish I hired a professional home designer
I remodeled a bathroom for a Shreveport couple earlier this year. At our first meeting, we sat down at their kitchen table to discuss their project. As we got to talking, the husband mentioned that they wanted some design help to “avoid what happened last time.” Of course I couldn’t let that go without learning more, so I asked what happened last time.
They told me that they did a lot of footwork when they remodeled their kitchen about eight years ago. They looked at magazines and articles online and went to recently remodeled open houses to look for ideas. It took a lot longer than they thought it would take, and at the end of their remodel, they had a brand-new kitchen that, two years later, looked dated.
Rather than working with a designer to identify what appealed to them and suited their lifestyle, they picked what was trendy at the time. Unfortunately, that meant that a lot of the design, like metallic tile backsplashes and gold fixtures, looked dated. Following trends meant that they also didn’t design the kitchen with functionality in mind. They weren’t able to add the breakfast nook they wanted because of a load-bearing wall in the way, so they settled for another row of counters that just accumulated clutter.
Hiring a designer prevents you from making style gaffes and can also point out solutions that you might not otherwise have thought of.
Regret 5: I wish I got what I really wanted
By the time some homeowners get around to hiring a real remodeler, sometimes they’ve already spent money on some products, or tried out a contractor that didn’t work out, so when their design professional brings them ideas and solutions for their project, they don’t want to spend as much.
But if you’re in your forever home, or at least one that you can see spending five or ten years living in, you might wish you had gotten that radiant heated flooring in the bathroom, the beautiful natural stone countertops for your kitchen island, and the bench seat for the shower that you really wanted. My wife, Robin and I have two wonderful granddaughters. Playing when them makes me realize that life is short. Remodeling is a major life event and life is too short to not get what you really want in your home.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, is the president of Re-Bath in Shreveport. You can contact him at 318-216-4525 or by visiting www.rebath.com/location/shreveport.