Monday, November 28, 2011

Fine Homebuilding's Remodeling Blunders (to avoid)

Sometimes Fine Homebuilding magazine is a bit too lofty for me.  We can't all afford the perfect setting, materials, timeline and all.  But every once in awhile I do find a feature, building material or approach that resonates.  Mind you, the majority of my 22 year real estate career has been selling old houses in Portland's close-in neighborhoods.  There are countless atrocities once can bestow on old houses.  I have seen many of them. 

The November 2011 issue of Fine Homebuilding cover article is, " 12 Restoration Blunders, Don't let poor planning and unrealistic expectations destroy a great old house".  

#1 Proceeding without a plan.  Now Fine Homebuilding may expect quite the elaborate plan, and maybe you can't quite afford that.  But do plan.

#2. Don't expect to flip.  Enough said.  Just don't.

#3. Assuming an unrealistic budget.  Yes, we all know remodel budgets and timelines expand exponentially.  Plan for that.

#4 Failing to coordinate your team.  We have found the intersection between trades one of the more challenging tasks of remodel work.  There is both timing to coordinate, order of projects and what I call "the edges".  While you do want to put  together your own team, contractors who often work together can alleviate a lot of unnecessary hassle and delay.

#5 Mishandling Environmental Hazards.  Asbestos, lead based paint, heating oil, freon etc.  With good reason, these hazards are regulated and have stipulated methods for remediation.  Follow the guidelines.   No excuses.

#6 Leaving it leaky.  This is about air intrusion and energy efficiency.  Great strides have been made in tightening up old drafty houses.  Seal attics and crawl spaces, consider a blower door test to find elusive leaks and insulate, insulate, insulate.

#7 Installing new windows.  Fine Homebuilding says to forget the spendy window replacements, we don't lose that much energy through windows anyway.  I beg to differ.  Window replacements aren't just about energy loss.  New windows can alleviate some of the more hazardous lead based paint, provide sound attenuation (from a gal who lives on a busy street).  And new windows that open and close more smoothly certainly provide a quality of life improvement.

#8 Replacing rather than repairing.   I agree.  From a conservation standpoint, why dispose and buy new when you don't have to.  Hardware, moulding and trim, old growth lumber; these things are what give an old home the class and patina we like.  So when you can, avoid gutting and stripping.

#9 Ignoring historic tax credits.  You don't hear much about these, and for smaller projects the administration hassle may over shadow the benefit.  Check out this link for more information.

#10 Forgetting to document.  Pictures are invaluable, as are accurate plans...not how you planned to build it, but how it ended up.  This kind of information is especially valuable with regard to what is behind the walls and where it is.

#11 Ignoring an old home's assets.  I think this could be #1.   Take a good hard look at the assets of that old house before you start planning the job.  What do you have to work with?  Are there some hidden assets?

#12 Blowing the chance to leave behind a better house.  Be sure what you put in is quality.  We all know building materials won't last forever, but using stuff and practices to lengthen the life will make a huge difference.

While you are thinking about all there is to consider when planning a house project, keep these twelve more things in mind.  If you have questions about what features sell in Portland's market, feel free to contact me for a bit of advice.  Happy remodeling!

1 comment:

  1. If you have windows in need of repair or replacement, look for a local, professional window company that is well experienced and firmly established. Ask for referrals from friends or family.

    In Olympia Washington, DK Boos Glass,, has been in business for 33 years and is a pillar in the home maintenance and building community. They offer no pressure free estimates and have a friendly customer staff as well as a showroom so you can see their product lines.

    You should be able to find similar companies locally.