Avoid Remodeling Mistakes

Have you ever walked into a house and wondered, “What were they thinking when they designed this place?” Most of us have. If you plan to remodel, here are some tips to prevent your house from becoming that house.

Colors evoke moods, so be aware of the message you’re sending or the mood you’re fostering. Colors can be divided into several categories: warm and cool, bright and muted, dark and light—and they all have different impacts.

  • A light, muted yellow is considered cheerful and inviting, a nice way to boost people’s moods. Yellow works well in almost any room, and light colors make rooms feel bigger.
  • Pastels like lavender and pink are great for children’s rooms, but not much else.
  • Light blue promotes tranquility, and is therefore often used in bedrooms.
  • Dark blues (like other dark colors) often make a space feel smaller, so use sparingly.
  • Light green is the color of nature, and as a cool color is quite soothing.
  • Dark green complements dark woods, and can be offset with white trim.
  • Intense warm colors like orange and red are great if you want to make a room seem smaller and more intimate, or if you want to stimulate lively discussions and activities. These colors are popular in dining rooms to promote lively conversation and warm, family moments.
  • Neutrals and browns are safe, conservative options. If you don’t know what you want, or if you are planning to sell in a few years and want future owners to pick their color scheme, neutrals are a good choice. You can always add more color via art, area rugs, or adding a colorful accent wall later.

Once you’ve got your color scheme figured out, here are a few more things to consider.

Be sure you have a vision of what you want your home to look like: the floor plan and the style (modern, traditional, eclectic). Clarity about style, especially, will help you make many of the other decisions coming your way. Be honest about the space you need. It is easy to over-build. While you should plan for the space you’ll need during the next decade or so, the truth is, a well-designed 3,000 sq. ft. home may work better than an ill-designed 5,000 sq. ft. home (and there will be less to clean and maintain).

Find the right people: the architect, builder, sub-contractors, and suppliers. Do not be afraid to ask them if they are licensed, bonded and insured. If they act offended when you ask the question, find someone else because in addition to the right credentials, you also want people with the right personality—people you can get along with. If they are difficult to deal with at this point, the whole process can go south in a hurry. Once construction is underway, visit the site every few days to be sure everything is being built to your expectations. Ask questions if you have them.

If you’re working within a fixed budget, there may be work you can do. Ask the builder if he or she will allow you to put in sweat equity to help reduce costs. Maybe you can paint the walls or stain the trim. Think about the upgrades ahead of time. Builders generally provide estimates based on “medium grade” materials. Some upgrades don’t cost too much, but make a nice difference. When you’re budgeting, think about future mortgage payments, too. If you’ve been pre-approved for a specific mortgage amount, consider what the interest rate will be when the home is completed and how much extra upgrades will add to your monthly payment. Also consider how much money you will need after escrow closes (window coverings, furniture, landscaping).

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

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