Remodels are a great way to improve your home’s form and function. Done right, they’ll make your living space more enjoyable for years to come and offer added value to your property. But how do you get it done? If there’s only one thing about remodels you have to remember, it’s that proper planning is critical to the project’s success.
Renovation vs. Remodel: Is There a Difference?
While the two terms are used interchangeably, renovation and remodel actually mean different things. To tell them apart, you first have to determine the extent of the changes you’re looking to make.
If you’re updating your kitchen, for instance, with mostly cosmetic changes (leaving existing structures intact) then you’re doing a renovation. If the work will involve construction and demolition, then you’re doing a remodel.
If your home is simply feeling a little dated, a renovation can do wonders to freshen it up. However, if you’re looking for an update that’s geared toward improving functionality, a remodel is the better choice for you.
Because it will entail altering only details on the surface, a renovation is generally more affordable. Aside from simply involving more work, a kitchen or bathroom remodel in Scottsdale, AZ and the surrounding communities will also require permits, so it’s likely going to be more expensive.
Every kitchen or bathroom remodel starts with a dream. It may be just a fantasy at first but your dream kitchen or bathroom is great for guiding where your remodel. Sure, it’s not realistic to expect all your ideas to make it into the finished product, but don’t toss them out just yet! Taking full stock of everything you want and need not only outlines the essentials but can also pave the way for better ideas you can incorporate into your new kitchen or bathroom.
Not sure what you want or need? Take inspiration from others!
Many homeowners chronicle their home improvement projects online so you can refer to those for examples of kitchen or bathroom solutions that might interest you. Sometimes, you may not realize something is possible until someone else has done it, so it’s always a good idea to check out what others are incorporating into their own remodeling projects. You can also check out home improvement magazines and sites, as well as ask friends and family for suggestions.
What to Consider
You have a vision of your perfect kitchen or bathroom, but what looks great in your head may not necessarily translate in real life. It’s not exactly fun to accept that you can’t have what you want, but trust your remodeling contractor. With years of experience, contractors are in the best position to assess your ideas and weed out what will work and what won’t. Listen to what they have to say to help you decide which compromises you’ll be willing to accept. You might even be pleasantly surprised by the alternatives they can present you.
Ask Yourself: How Long Do You Plan on Living in Your Home?
If you’re considering selling your Phoenix, AZ home in the next five years, then your bathroom or kitchen remodel should be treated as a real estate investment. As such, plan for investments you’ll get back when you put your property on the market. If you plan on staying in your home beyond five years, your remodel should be geared toward what will give you the most comfort.
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
It’s the little things that will take you by surprise so be mindful of the add-ons you’re tempted to include. Super-luxe fixtures or crown molding, for instance, will look amazing, no doubt, but do you really need them?
Budgeting a Remodel
In kitchen or bathroom remodeling projects, identifying what you want and need is the easy part. Once you get those out of the way, the next (and tougher) step is to figure out your budget. Even when you don’t have to worry about costs, it’s a good idea to set a budget because it will give you better control over your remodeling project.
Conversations involving remodeling budgets aren’t always easy, so here are a few things you can keep in mind to help you establish yours:
- Ballpark costs – Generally, major upgrades cost between $100 and $200 or more for every square foot. Given the size of your kitchen or bathroom, you should be able to come up with a ballpark range of the budget you’ll require to complete your remodel.
Establish budgets early – What you have to spend will be affected by a range of factors, including the extent and details of the project and the neighborhood you’re in. Your contractor can give you a rough estimate of the budget you’ll need but you don’t need to wait to tell them you have a budget in mind. Contractors have extensive experience so they’ll know how to work with what you have. In fact, letting them know early how much you’re willing to spend will let them narrow down options for you sooner. This also allows them to eliminate certain options and present you with the solutions you’re looking for.
Be realistic – Don’t turn to TV shows to get a sense of how much a new kitchen or bathroom will cost. Most of the time, materials and services have been traded to be featured in shows so they don’t accurately represent real-world prices. You will likely be forced to make a few trade-offs but working with a reputable remodeling professional will help you ensure the choices you make actually offer you the best value.
Plan for contingencies – There will be surprises along the way, so allot 20% of your budget to prepare for those. Many contractors also focus on a remodel’s structural elements, so they may leave out items like paint, flooring and appliances from their quote. To cover these expenses, add between 7% and 10% to your budget to be safe, on top of the 20% you’ve set aside for emergencies.
Saving on Your Remodeling Budget: Quick Tips
It’s never too early in the planning stages to make room for savings. To help you streamline your remodeling budget, keep in mind the following:
- Spend no more on your new kitchen or bathroom than what those rooms are valued at in relation to your home’s overall value. For instance, a kitchen represents between 10 and 15% of a property’s value. If your home is valued at $200,000 then, your kitchen remodel should cost you $30,000 or less.
- If you can, go for a layout change that will not require your sink or toilet to be moved. This is because changing plumbing can be costly, with moving a toilet more than five feet, for instance, typically costing between $500 and $1,000.
- Think long-term. It’s always nice to save on costs but consider the long-term benefits of paying a little bit more for materials. For example, preprimed and prepainted clapboard siding will cost about an additional 20 cents for every foot, but you’ll also be paying for half as many paint jobs down the line. If your remodeling project will entail some exterior upgrades, it’s worth considering when making a budget.
- Increase efficiency, not size. Talk to your contractor about reorganizing your kitchen or bathroom first to optimize utility before knocking down walls to make way for additional space. Where expanding your kitchen by 200 square feet, for instance, will set you back between $48,000 and $95,000, upgrading cabinets and shelving will cost you around $35,000.
- Do you really need a window? Getting a lot of natural light is great, but making room for a new window might not be the most practical for you. If you don’t require the additional ventilation a window will bring, consider getting a light tube instead. It will bring in natural light for about $500, while a double-pane insulated window will cost you some $1,500.
Know Your Loan Options
Not paying in cash? If you’re borrowing to finance your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, you should assess how much you’ll be able to get from the bank and how taking out a loan will affect your monthly expenses. Additionally, take note of the loan options available to you.
There are three basic loan types you can take advantage of:
1. Cash-out refinancing
Cash-out refinancing entails getting a new loan to take the place of a current mortgage. If the refinanced amount is more than what you owe, you can take the difference in cash. The bigger the difference, the more cash you have to spend at your discretion. To be eligible, homeowners typically need a minimum of 20% equity in their property.
2. Home equity loan
Home equity loans let you borrow against your home’s value. And because a loan is secured by your property, it is easier to qualify for compared to other loan types. It’s considered a second mortgage, with the first being the original mortgage you used to buy your home. How much you can get out of a home equity loan depends on the difference between your home’s current value in the market and your equity.
3. Home equity line of credit
For most homeowners, a home equity line of credit is the best choice because it’s a loan type secured by home equity, meaning it qualifies for lower rates than other options. The downside to it is that you only have to pay interest. Yes, this may make managing your monthly expenses easier in the short term but you can get stuck in debt if you’re not careful. It’s a lot like simply paying the minimum amount due on credit cards. To get around this challenge, simply establish a repayment schedule of your own.
Home Equity Loan vs. Home Equity Line of Credit: What to Choose?
If you’re looking at a kitchen or bathroom remodel as a one-time project, then a home equity loan will make a lot of sense. If your remodeling project, however, is just the tip of the iceberg and you’re interested in long-term home improvement, then a home equity line of credit may give you the flexibility you need to achieve your goals.
Kitchen vs. Bathroom Remodeling: What to Do First?
If you had it your way, you’d probably do both a kitchen and bathroom remodel. Unfortunately, most of the time, you’re going to have to decide on just one. If so, what should you do first?
The answer depends on what your goals are.
If You Want: The most savings
Do: A bathroom remodel
Based on U.S. national averages, the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report reports that an upscale kitchen remodel will set you back about $126,000, while an upscale bathroom remodel will cost around $62,000. For mid-range major remodels, kitchen work will run about $64,000 in costs while updating a bathroom will result in some $19,000 worth of expenses.
If You Want: The least amount of disruption
Do: A kitchen remodel
Eating and bathing (and all other activities related to bathroom use) are equally important, but if you had to do away with a kitchen or a bathroom for a month, it would be easier to live without a kitchen because you have alternatives like delivery, eating out or resorting to a hot plate or microwave. Take away your bathroom, however, and you’re going to have a bit more trouble.
If You Want: Faster completion
Do: A bathroom remodel
A mid-range bathroom remodel typically takes at least 18 days to finish. A kitchen remodel of the same magnitude, however, has a “best case scenario” of one month, with two to six months being a more realistic timeline.
If You Want: The best resale value
Do: A kitchen remodel
According to real estate professionals, a majority of them consider the kitchen as a primary factor influencing the sale of a property, compared to 42% who see bathrooms as the most important room in a home. Additionally, realtors typically set up camp in kitchens during open houses, highlighting the room as a focal point for a property.
The Key to Remodeling Success? Your Contractor
Whether you do a kitchen or a bathroom remodel, you have to take the time to find the right remodeling contractor because who you work with will determine the success of your project. With the right remodeling expert, you can rest assured that you will be provided with quality products and expert craftsmanship, guaranteeing you get exactly what you want and need. The opportunity to do a remodeling project doesn’t come often, after all, so it’s critical to make sure you make the most of your investment.