Planning A Remodel
Planning a pre-retirement remodel is a daunting task! So, let’s just go ahead and dive right in! Today we’re talk about two of my favorite taboo subjects… Planning & Budget! I guess I’m just a bit of a sadist, but I actually enjoy these topic even though they make most people squirm. I also love to talk about aging and how that affects the way we interact with our home environment… Just throw in religion and politics and we’ll have a real squirm-fest!
All kidding aside, the BIGGEST mistake I see when clients want to do a pre-retirement remodel or re-design is lack of planning. Period.
Let’s be clear. I’m not saying you should plan your NEXT PROJECT. I’m saying you should PLAN your next project. The operative word being plan. If you want to be happy with your remodel for the long-term you need a plan. That means before you set foot in a design studio, a BBS (remember that’s Big Box Store), or search for a designer or contractor you MUST know 3 things:
- WHY are you remodeling/redecorating?
- WHAT items are you are willing to compromise on and what are your non-negotiables?
- HOW MUCH money do you want to spend?
The Big WHY
This is hands down THE most important question and will drive your budget and very likely drive your non-negotiables. For example, are you just trying to update the look of your kitchen to sell your home? If that’s the case, you won’t want to over-improve or over-spend, even if your finances permit a large budget. However, if your intention is to create a “dream” kitchen that you will enjoy for many years to come, you will see it more as an investment. If you are preparing for retirement and want the kitchen to last as long as you are in the home, you will want to do things that will allow the space to adapt to meet your needs.
If you’re planning for the long-term, take some time. Don’t remodel on a whim!
If your answer to the big WHY is simply “I hate my master bath!” or kitchen or living room or whole house (and yes, I have heard people say this). Then I urge you to dig deeper. WHY do you hate it so much? Make a list of these things.
Go ahead… I’ll wait while you grab a pen and paper.
You need to write them down. Moreover, with your pen and paper, I want you to go into that space and spend some time in there. Write down everything that comes to mind that bugs you. Then, leave the pen and paper in that room and every time you use that space, jot down more reasons and ideas. Keep this list going for at least a month.
Then, start a Pinterest board of great ideas for your home… You can follow all of my boards and get some amazing stuff! Take notes. What do you like? What do you want to avoid? Ask a friend who has recently remodeled what they like and don’t like about their newly remodeled space(s). What do they wish they had done differently. Then, when you’re don collecting data for a month, then you make your non-negotiables list.
If you want to be really smart about it, keep that list going for two to three months. Seriously. Why rush?? If you are planning a remodel or decorating project that you want to last for many years, why rush through it? This is not a short-term commitment. You’re not buying a new pair of shoes. The average cost of a “high-end” kitchen remodel is $80,000-100,000. For a “mid-range” living room full-service project where 90% of the furniture, finishes, and accessories are being replaced, I recommend a budgeting $25,000 for just the cost of goods.
This is not peanuts.
In my own recent home remodel, I planned the kitchen and bathroom portions for 4 months before I ordered even one item. Believe me when I tell you that I just wanted to get it done. Seriously, we had an exposed gas line and no ventilation over a gas stove!! We had moved into a home with a kitchen that wasn’t even up to code, but I stuck to my guns and, armed with a carbon monoxide detector, I made a plan that has wowed many of our friends and family. Best of all, this kitchen was built to get us into retirement and beyond.
Roman Shade – Pottery Barn, Lighting – Rejuvenation, Pillows – Etsy & Eastern Accents, Accent Tile – The Tile Bar, Cabinetry – CliqStudios, Table – Serena & Lily, Chair – Serena & Lily, Stool – Serena & Lily, Rug – Loloi
What Are Your Non-Negotiables
Non-negotiables are the items that MUST have allocated funds and space. Period. If you know that you want a cook-top and a separate oven, which I HIGHLY recommend if you plan to retire in your home, then you absolutely must allocate the space for it in your plan AND you have to make sure your budget will accommodate it.
If you are planning to stay in your home for many years to come you need to think about what that really means… In the words of Clairee Belcher, my favorite Steel Magnolia, “Time marches on and one day you realize it’s marching across your face!” That’s right as the years go by, you will get older. Your body will get older and usually that means that you need an environment that will adapt to those changes.
This is where your Pinterest board will come in handy and why you need to spend some time planning! Go look at all the great ideas and advice on “Aging in Place”. That is the official name for preparing your home for retirement. There are so many great ideas. However, you will probably need to wade past a lot of images of 90-year-olds in rocking chairs to get to them, but if you can look past all of that you will learn a lot.
… And it’s really important that you do! The “designers” at BBSs and local kitchen and bath showrooms may not have a clue how to prepare your home for retirement! You’re going to need to advocate for yourself!
Roman Shades – The Shade Store, Nightsands – Lexington, Bed – Four Hands, Lamp – Wildwood Lamp, Persimmon Pillow – Lacefield, Chinoiserie Pillow – Lexington, Navy Pillow – Eastern Accents, Benches – The Uttermost Company, Art – Ballard Designs, Rug – Barclay Butera, Blue and White Chinoiserie Vases – Ballard Designs, Books – E. Lawrence Ltd, Mirror – Mirror Image Home, Lamp- Wildwood Lamp, Dresser – Lexington, Chair – Ballard Designs, Mirror – Mirror Image Home, Sconce – dweLED, Cabinetry – Cliq Studios, Harware – Worlds Away, Faucet – Kohler, Tile – The Tile Bar
Why Budget Matters
Have you ever noticed that the root word here is BUDGE… as in “you’ll probably have to budge a little”. When talking budget, I always recommend that clients have a range and a hard stop. The hard stop should kind of be your own private number that is the upper number of your range + 10%. Why do I recommend this? Because in every project there are “whoopsie daisies”, unforeseen costs that are revealed when you start removing tile and drywall and shower pans. These are things that must be addressed for the project to be safe for human use and occupancy.
So, if you have $50,000 to spend on a bathroom remodel, you will want to tell your remodeling professional, “My budget is $40,000 with a hard stop at $45,000.” This way when they are planning your remodel, you will still have some “whoopsie daisy” money left in your pocket and the project will not go over budget.
You will also want to lay out your non-negotiables to the remodeling professionals. Don’t be surprised if you are met with blank stares. They may even try to talk you out of them. Be open-minded, they may think of something you haven’t. Let them educate you. However, if you start to feel like they are not listening you and your concerns, din’t be afraid to walk away.
There will be sticker shock.
The main reason a budget is important is because you need to do some research on what the cost of a good remodel will be. I promise with a very good remodel there will be sticker shock, especially if you have been watching HGTV. Sure, you can get a kitchen or bathroom remodeled cheaply, but the key word there is cheap. You’ll be settling for inferior products and you will find out quickly that your “non-negotiables” just became a lot more negotiable.
My best recommendation on how to get a realistic budget is to turn off HGTV and start reading and recording the actual cost of things. Ask your friends who’ve remodeled recently. Then, make a spreadsheet. Once you feel like you have a good idea of what your remodel will cost, add 15%. And for heaven’s sake, PLAN to do the remodel you want! Don’t settle for a cheap knock off. Again, we’re not talking about shoes! This is your home and as you age, it’s ultimately your safety. Don’t cut corners on your future!
Key Take Away Points
- Make a list of what you don’t like about your current space.
- List WHY you do not like it and how you would want to improve it.
- Make a list of non-negotiables
- Create a spreadsheet with costs
- Prepare yourself for sticker shock
- THEN, make an appointment with a designer, kitchen and bath showroom, or BBS.
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Next week – The Dreaded Grab Bar!
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