Owning a home these days can be expensive. And if you're like me, there are few things that are as valuable as a good house. OK, maybe a nice pair of shoes and a designer handbag or three.
Just this past year, at my Rancho Santa Fe house, a sewer system was connected, the pool was remodeled, air-conditioning was added, two water heaters were replaced and, finally to my children's delight - "Mom, the 1980s are over" - new outdoor furniture was added to the courtyard.
Making design changes, updating finishes, adding on to cramped quarters and the need to make general repairs and perform routine maintenance are fuel for the raging multi-billion dollar residential remodeling market. Industry statistics report that residential remodeling topped the $125 billion in 2007 - and there appears to be no end in sight.
Without a doubt, the planning stage is the most important and exciting aspect of a successful remodeling project. Getting organized and writing down your expectations and goals, what your priorities are, and having a good idea of what you want is invaluable when planning a remodeling or renovating pursuit.
Collecting pictures of rooms and spaces from magazines that appeal to your taste are very helpful. Also, have a budget and keep receipts. A budget will save you mounds of money when remodeling or renovating a home.
Understand that the more intricate the details in a remodel, the more costly the job. And if you are fortunate enough to know the right people to do the work, you're well on your way. Remodeling doesn't need to be stressful. By good planning and organization, remodeling can be a very rewarding experience.
Gary Young, president and CEO of Young Construction Co. in Rancho Santa Fe, has been building and remodeling homes in North County for more than 25 years.
"I believe that remodeling and upgrading your existing home, given the current market conditions, makes a good deal of sense," Young said.
As he was flipping through a portfolio of successful completed projects, he added, "I love working with families as we make their dream into a reality. If I didn't keep before-and-after photos, sometimes it is difficult to believe how much has changed and improved for the better with a good remodel."
Several years ago, a friend of mine and I purchased a classic fixer-upper, which had been in probate, as an investment. We outbid three other parties on the first day it went on the market and purchased the property. During escrow, we planned our strategy for the remodel.
As a result of being organized, planning, budgeting and scheduling our work crews, eight weeks after closing escrow, we had it back on the market and sold it for full asking price the first day.
There were a few glitches along the way, but understanding that going into a project, prepared us.
It'll prepare you too.
"It's important to know that a remodel is a dynamic process," Young said. "Things change when we actually get into walls, ceilings and the foundation. Clients need to understand this and know to expect the unexpected."
And remember - there is no such thing as a "perfect home." No matter how much renovating or redecorating you do, there will always be something else on the list. That's just life when you own a house.