Weighing in on the Cost of Remodeling

January 27th, 2008 § 2 Comments

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Save Money: remodeling now, upgrade later” by Arrol Gellner, has merit however I have to take issue with a couple of points. Namely, I disagree that the idea of buying inexpensive cabinets now and replacing later is not as simple as Mr. Gellner makes it appear to be. Secondly, Arrol Gellner’s appliance advise may lead to complications later. Kitchen Designer Peggy Deras, has successfully challenged this idea that appliances are not easy to replace later because appliance cut out sizes are not standardized. Please read on at Kitchen-Exchange for her article, Comment on Arrol Gellner’s Appliance Advise.

I have been a fan of Mr. Gellner since I was introduced to his work and insightful articles on architecture, however I would have to argue with his idea of cabinets being fairly simple to remove and replace. Mr. Gellner’s theory of using budget cabinentry for the short term a fairly open-ended way to save money may not be so simple or cost effective.

I would caution that homeowners be aware of the variance in toe kick’s depths from different cabinets manufacturers. A standard 24″ deep cabinet may have a toe kick depth of 21″ but I have seen variances, which leads to the question about what to do with the scar on the floor. If the difference is less than 3/4″ than a matching shoe base can be installed to hide the gap. If the foot print of the cabinets changes, even slightly, means the flooring will have to be patched or replaced.

If you have a peninsula, and you want to change it later, (shorten it, angle it, or remove it) and the flooring is hardwood and continues throughout the rest of the home, the patching in of the new material will show a visible shade difference, unless the whole floor is sanded and refinished. So what to do? In order to make this budget transition work, and remain “simple and cost effective later”, keep the footprint fairly the same, always order extra floor material, for repairs later, or do as they do in Europe, tile under all the cabinets now, so no matter how the foot print varies later, this makes using budget cabinetry for the short term a fairly open-ended way to save money. Yet, one has to question, is a short term investment in new budget cabinets really a good investment? I would suggest a better way to save money in the short term by painting the old cabinets now, removing really ugly wall cabinet doors and opt for open shelves instead. Paint kitchen cabinets is very budget friendly, while planning to remodel the kitchen properly later is a better investment.

The Los Angeles Times, Real Estate section, Sunday January 6, had a great article by Marni Jameson I recommend everyone read before remodeling. “Mad for makeovers” is about homeowners that focus on remodeling for comfort, not resale. The article quotes Dan Fritchen, that “remodeling in a down market can make a lot of sense…you just have to be smart about it”, author of 2005′s “Remodel or Move? Make the Right Decision.”

Quoting the article, A national survey that Fritchen’s Web company, RemodelEstimates.com conducted last fall among 5,000 homeowners found that folks are planning to spend as much as ever on home improvements in 2008 but they plan to do so more carefully.

Also the article profiles one homeowners justification for remodeling rather than moving. Mark Yegsigian of Laguna Hills is a certified public accountant and financial planner who also has a real estate license. He describes himself as “the bean counter’s bean counter.” He has some sage advise on remodeling and able to back up his statement with the numbers to prove it.

Another safe move, Fritschen added, is fixing a design problem. For instance, it could pay to open up a galley kitchen and add space or an island. Likewise, if you expand a tiny bathroom, you probably won’t lose.

Fritschen says, “I don’t see galley kitchens or tiny baths ever coming back.”

Getting Organized

April 13th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

Where do you begin? Take stock of your kitchen. What worked for the previous homeowner may not work for you. Kitchens are a personal space. If it doesn’t suit your cooking or entertaining style, designing a generic kitchen with new boxes on the wall and new counter tops can be a waste of good money. Editing your needs on paper is the first step in understanding what’s important to you and paramount for communicating your needs to your kitchen designer. I have created a design questionnaire to help my clients take inventory of their needs and wants. Feel free to print and take with you to your kitchen design appointment. So let’s get started! Start collecting your notes and magazine pictures in a file folder.
And for those really serious about getting ready to remodel: I advise starting a notebook to keep everything together. Grab a notebook binder and fill out the 8 tabs (Cabinets, Appliances, Counters/Splashes, Floors, Lighting, Construction Bids, Contracts, Punch List.)

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