Renovations & Romance

Jay Caughman, Caughman + Caughman Architects

Plan Ahead

My first piece of advice would be to move out if at all possible, especially for larger renovations. Construction is messy. And stressful. And personal. And emotional. It takes longer than you think it’s going to take. Moving out during construction allows you to separate yourself from the stress and will allow you to think more clearly and make better decisions. My second piece of advice is to go forward with the best plan possible. Make as many decisions ahead of time as you can. Thirdly, pick your splurge areas in advance. With Houzz, Pinterest, HGTV, etc., you’ll be amazed how many times you’ll say, “This is just a little bit more.” Don’t put yourself in those situations – plan ahead! 

Connie McCoy, McCoy Homes, Inc.

Manage Expectations

When planning a major remodel, most couples share a similar vision for their project. However, there are a lot of variables. We find that most folks get lost in the details, which can be especially challenging for couples. We encourage our clients to make a list of their questions or concerns. We encourage them to have an open and honest conversation together – and then with us. This is an important step in our process, because it allows us to manage our own expectations and those of our clients. Some of the more general questions we get are these: What is our ultimate goal? What finishes do we want? What is our budget? How flexible is that budget? What is our timeframe? Will we live in our house during construction? How will this affect our routine? Have a conversation with your spouse and talk through these answers in advance.

Bonnie Hensley, RiverBirch Homes of Chattanooga

Communicate and Compromise

Construction is a messy business. Good communication and understanding each other’s wishes and desires are crucial. Set a budget and stick to it. Check the professionals’ credentials and ask for referrals to contact so that there is a united level of comfort and trust. Do not stay home all day watching the work. This may cause anxiety for the contractors, and it will most definitely add to your stress. If timing and budget allow, use construction time for more date nights, family outings, or vacation. Indeed, renovating is a crash course in compromise. But that’s one of the great things about it, because it often creates the best design.

Steve Ward, Sun Construction

Preselect Finishes

Have a good plan in place from an architect or designer. You’re asking for trouble without a solid plan in place. Then, choose a contractor who is open and honest about the remodeling process and how much it could cost. Have realistic cost expectations, and then create a contingency for overages. If you’re renovating an old house, you almost have to budget 15-20% for unknowns. If you preselect finishes like appliances, countertops, flooring, tile, and trim, then your budget numbers will be more realistic. Making these decisions in advance of demolition will help manage your stress as well.

Brandon Waters, Waters-Holland Residential Builders

Move Out

Be realistic about the scale of your project and consider moving out. Renovations can be loud, dirty, and chaotic. A common misconception is that you will save money by continuing to live in the home. But that’s not always true! By moving out during large projects, the crews can progress faster by focusing their time on the work and not the comfort and safety of family members in the home, which saves you time, money, and your sanity. 

Clay Henley, Henley Brothers Construction Co.

Take Notes

A renovation will always end up costing more than you think. There are always changes and adjustments that need to happen along the way, but when these do happen, make sure to get any change order in writing. This helps you keep track of the cost of your project. Changes are not free, so make sure you have a clear understanding between you, your spouse, and your contractor. Another tip is to use pictures along with plans, so your contractor knows what you are looking to achieve with the finished product. Drawings plus visuals help communication immensely.

Rob and Wendy Cuthbertson, Cuthbertson Homes

Align Expectations

You’ve heard “Location, Location, Location” for buying property – the mantra for success in remodeling as a couple is “Communication, Communication, Communication.”  Ask each other: “How will we manage the logistics of living without access to the area being remodeled?  Will we stay in the home and improvise or will we move out?  What is the real purpose of this remodel – what benefit are we seeking?  What is our budget range?  Are we open to expanding the project once it gets started?  What are our individual ‘must-haves’?”  Talk early and often to align expectations – you’ll minimize conflict and be happier with your remodeled space.  

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