As general contractors in Los Angeles, we know every remodeling project starts out with the right idea. The homeowner just wants to improve their living space and quality of life by up grading their living environment. Sounds good, but there’s usually a bit more to it than that, they also want to get a reasonable return on their investment as well. Meaning an increase in the value of their home.
But here’s the deal, remodeling home projects always look easier than they are, and it’s not until a home owner really gets into it that they’re aware of all the options, stress, emotion and fear of making the wrong decision (wasting money). This is even with a qualified Los Angeles general contractor at your side every step of the way.
So here’s some tips to keep you on track and help you think a little more clearly when spending your home remodel money.
1. If you don’t do this for a living, ask a pro for help.
If you’re knocking down walls or moving walls and aren’t sure about how the space should be used, get the help of a pro. An architect or interior designer makes a living at knowing how to use space effectively so everything flows and is easy to use. So get their thinking before you start your demolition, you’ll probably save yourself a lot of money and regrets. A $1,000 to $3,000 investment is money well spent when it’s used to hire an architect or interior designer to draw up a plan for you, because happiness (and re-sale value) is a well-designed space.
2. Don’t over spend on the kitchen.
Most of your time will be spent in the kitchen, it’s the most popular room in the house, so it makes sense to make it as nice as you can…but lets not go crazy.
Everybody likes to talk about how you will get your investment back on a remodeled kitchen when you sell, but there’s a limit to what you can get back for custom countertops and state of the art appliances.
So try looking at it like this when you’re making up a budget for your kitchen remodel; a kitchen pretty much reflects 5-15% of your homes value (when done well), so make 5-15% of your homes value your budget for a kitchen remodel. Meaning if you just want a clean simple kitchen remodel stay in the 5-10% of homes value area. But if you want something nicer you’re talking about spending around 10-15% of your homes value.
3. A thought about energy efficient products.
Buying and installing new energy efficient appliances and windows is a great idea, (although pricy) just don’t count on getting your money back soon, it almost never happens.
Take this home remodel project we just finished where the customer wanted to replace all the windows in the house. Windows are not cheap for a whole house, (at $300-$1,200 a pop) but replacing them is suppose to save you 50% on your energy bills, the thing you have to remember though is windows only account for about 15% of a houses heat loss so you might just save around $50 to $175 dollars a year.
This owner was not concerned about getting their money back in energy savings, they just wanted the look and value that new windows add to a house. Plus they like the fact new windows open easier and clean up easier. Think like this and you won’t be disappointed, because new windows will save you a couple of bucks on heating, but they will not pay for themselves for a long, long time.
4. Think “timeless” instead of “trendy”.
The more cutting edge your project is with materials and design, the more out of style it will seem tomorrow. So you may want to re-think going with the latest trends in glass tiles, trendy track lighting, and “fashionable for a week” flooring, sinks and toilets. They only look good in magazines, and even then get a dated look pretty fast.
Instead, go with classic choices that match the house’s original style. You can never go wrong keeping it clean, simple, and sympathetic to the houses look and feel.
Check out magazines for ideas, and if you get stuck talk to an interior designer, they do this for a living and can be life savers. This may cost you a couple of bucks up front for a consultation, but will save you from a costly mistake if you’re struggling with your choices.
Hope this helps, the Crew at Aim Higher Construction, Los Angeles general contractors.