Hindsight is 20/20, so first-time remodeling clients are lucky to work with remodelers that have been through the process hundreds of times. Getting feedback from friends, family, and pros before a remodel can help identify opportunities and avoid pitfalls. In an effort to share a variety of remodeling experiences, Real Simple magazine compiled feedback from readers about what they would have done differently during their home remodeling projects.
At REMODELING, we think a lot of Real Simple's 8 Things to Know Before You Renovate Your House are pretty insightful and have decided to pay it forward. Here are a number of solutions for some of Real Simple readers' shoulda-coulda-wouldas. Bring these ideas to your next prospective client presentation, and share your own problem solvers in the comments to add to the list.
1. Shared Wall Solution: One reader noted that more insulation in a shared wall would have kept her daughter from waking up to every little noise in the bathroom on the other side of her bedroom wall. To address this, sound-suppressing insulation and drywall can help, as well as acoustical sealant between material layers, all of which help reduce a wall's sound transmission class. Sound traveling between shared walls isn't the only issue to consider. Media rooms may need additional sound management, as well as open-concept homes with high ceilings and sound-reflective surfaces like granite countertops and hardwood floors.
2. More Power to the Kitchen: Whether it's to plug in the blender or charge a mobile device, one reader's wish for more power in her kitchen island is an important one to keep in mind. Enough outlets in the right places all around the kitchen will ensure there's plenty of power for small appliances, laptops and homework devices, and anything else you might want to keep plugged in. Several options are available for adding outlets to an island, and pop-up outlets or pop-out-outlets can make power accessible throughout a kitchen. Speaking of access, remember that universal design calls for standard outlets to be raised to about 18 inches off the floor, and should be kept within easy reach for wheelchair users (i.e., not only in the backsplash).
3. Ditch the Dust: "Don't underestimate how much construction dust will permeate the rest of your living spaces," wisely advises one Real Simple reader. Beyond RRP and lead paint issues, REMODELING anticipates "healthy home" remodels will become a new niche market akin to green remodeling, and building science expert Larry Zarker says dust-aggravated allergies and asthma are on the rise. To solve that problem, training crews on dust clean-up is essential. To minimize dust from the start, we've heard from a number of builders and remodelers who are having success with the Build Clean Dust Control System. Likewise, ZipWall panels can help cordon off dust from other areas of the home, and low-dust drywall compound can help stop the nuisance before it starts.
4. Dinner on Us: As clients dream of the kitchen they're about to have, the loss of the one that's being demoed can hit hard. "I wish we had included 'eating out' in the budget!" one Real Simple reader said. In addition to that bit of advice, consider offering to take your clients out to dinner during the course of their project, like columnist Paul Winans and his wife Nina often did. A simple gift card to their favorite restaurant can work too, and Visa even offers a program where you can build a rewards card with your own logo or other artwork on it. Willing to invest some extra time and money? One remodeler built his own mobile mini-kitchen for clients to use during remodels, or you can purchase one from a company like Yestertec or Dwyer.
5. Outline the Process. Multiple Real Simple readers noted that they had concerns over project timelines, when to order materials, and projects running longer than expected. Setting expectations early on is essential to a successful project timeline, and that should happen as early as the first sales meeting. Many REMODELING Big50s have offered advice over the years regarding setting timeline expectations to mitigate delays. We've also referred to the Remodeling Emotional Roller Coaster (right) since 1985 to give clients a visual reference of where the highs and lows will be during a remodel.
Professional remodelers are a wise and experienced bunch. If you've heard feedback from clients that has changed how you've run your remodels or implemented products or practices over the years, share them in the comments to turn your hindsight into someone else's foresight.