This past summer we moved out for two months while our house was remodeled. We had plans for the project since we bought the house in 2013 but between Trent and I both starting and running our own businesses the project was always on the back burner. When I found out I was pregnant in April we knew it needed to happen before we brought the baby home. Our guest bath which is now Piper's bathroom, had mold in the cabinets, the house had foundation issues we ignored for far too long and we hadn't showered in our master bathroom for over a year because it was so small and dark. Such a mess!
We originally planned to do the project in phases but with the baby timeline, we decided to do the whole thing at once. We made changes to every room in the house but the main focus was the kitchen, guest bathroom, master closets and bathroom. When we first started researching the process last spring, Trent and I both were disappointed with the lack of information out there about the steps, how to get started, etc. I'll state the obvious and say HGTV does NOT help you prep for a remodel haha! Unfortunately we had to learn some expensive lessons the hard way but looking back, I'd 100% do it over again.
I promise I didn't intentionally take awful before photos to make the transformation seem even better! I didn't think about it until they were tearing the kitchen apart. I'll let the pictures do the talking but you can see we opened up the space and made it much more functional.
Below is a photo from a shoot this fall that is taken from a similar angle so you can see the difference!
BIGGEST LESSONS LEARNED AS FIRST TIME REMODELERS
GET AT LEAST FOUR BIDS FOR THE JOB
I know it sounds a little excessive but we had five contractors bid out of job and each one was completely different. There was even a $20k gap between two of them! Be sure to ask around for recommendations to find someone you can trust. You can also research contractors in your area on Nextdoor.
SPEND THE MONEY WHERE IT MATTERS
In the original plan we wanted to redo the flooring in the living, kitchen and utility room. We had to cut something out of the budget and this was the first thing to go. Our tile is somewhat out dated but is neutral enough to live with. At the end of the day it was more important to switch out stove from electric to gas than the flooring. We know future buyers will think so too!
SOURCE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN TO SAVE MONEY
Between sites like Wayfair, Overstock and Houzz you can buy everything from tile to light fixtures and save a lot of money. Wayfair and Overstock both run amazing sales and if you subscribe to their emails you'll get coupon codes weekly. I found several items previously quoted to us by a design team for much cheaper through these sites. The time it takes to source items will be worth the money you save!
NEGOTIATE PRICING FOR ANY CHANGES BEFORE THEY BEGIN THE WORK
I think it's impossible to complete a remodeling job exactly as you plan. Have you ever seen Flip or Flop!? Something always goes wrong! We didn't plan or budget to replace all the plumbing but once they opened up the walls we realized it was necessary and would increase our home value. Regardless of how honest your contractor is, have them determine the cost for any additional work before moving forward. If you don't these changes can add up really quick. It can be easy to just agree to keep the project moving but there's always wiggle room in pricing!
AGREE TO A PAYMENT PLAN IN WRITING
For our job we sourced a lot of the materials ourselves so we only paid our contractor for labor and building supplies. We agreed to a payment plan for each room based on the progress and our timeline. Every Saturday we would pay him for the work completed that week and reimburse him for anything he purchased at the hardware store. We asked for receipts for our budget spreadsheet and to keep everyone honest. Our master bath was 98% complete and our contractor begged us to pay the last installment so he could pay his crew and promised he would come back the following week to hang the vanity mirrors and install the shower glass. Well it was really hard to track him down once he received 100% of the money for the job. Lesson learned the hard way!
We don't plan to move anytime soon but when we do I definitely see us customizing all of our future houses in some way. The project was overwhelming but the finished product made it all worth it! I love how our house fits our personalities now and is way more functional. Have you ever remodeled?! If so, I'd love to hear your biggest piece of advice below!