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10 tips on managing home renovation expectations from a pro

For more than two decades, Lauren Rautbord of Scottsdale’s own Paul Lauren Design Consultants has been helping her clients create the spaces of their dreams. She has learned that making sure homeowners know what to expect along the way is a key component to any successful renovation and offers a few pointers on managing renovation expectations.

1. What renovation projects have the best return on investment in terms of home value?

An updated kitchen and master bath will increase the home’s value.

2. What would you want to make sure someone considering a large home renovation project really thinks about before committing to a project?

The entire scope of the project should be carefully analyzed to determine what changes would add the most value, starting with a study of good and bad points of the property. They need to think about their budget and all it needs to cover, from taxes, professional and specialist fees, delivery and shipping costs to framing, hanging artwork, scotch-guarding and specialist cleaning. Factor in all the hidden costs and be realistic and honest about the budget they have available!

3. What might you recommend someone try to get a feel for what they might want to incorporate into the design of their home renovation project?

The more educated a client can be on prices of materials and labor, the better they can decide the scope and come up with a realistic budget. Kitchen design showrooms are a great place to start gathering ideas and information.

4. Are there any budgetary guidelines you suggest for a renovation project?

Before a renovation is even considered, the value and resale value of the home has to be determined.

5. What advice would you give someone in terms of trying to balance practicality vs. trendiness with regards to a renovation design?

In giving advice for renovations, I say keep it simple and classic. Upgrading flooring and paint can go a long way.

6. What do you tell people considering a DIY approach vs. hiring a professional?

Unless you have a background in homebuilding, I would strongly encourage people to consult a professional before attempting any project.

7. What questions should a homeowner ask prospective designers and contractors?

First, homeowners should establish that the designer and contractor has recent, direct experience working in the area on projects of comparable scope and budget. Next, they should inquire about and understand how the designer and contractor will be compensated, particularly how much upfront, nonrefundable retainer may be required. Ensure that clear design drawings, including floor plans, will be produced to avoid ambiguities. Every version of every plan must be clear to every member of the building team whether you think it relates to them or not. This is all very time-consuming and can cost a lot of money, but saves a lot of headaches in the end, as a good designer and contractor can help the homeowner establish a realistic budget that will add the most value to the home.

8. What are a few characteristics of a well-designed kitchen? Bathroom?

The kitchen today is about more than cooking. It is a gathering place for family and entertaining friends. Be honest about how much cooking you will do. Nothing is more aggravating than cooking in a kitchen that is cluttered with stuff. A well-designed kitchen will have a place for everything to be put away so you can entertain without looking at all those appliances that you really never use. Blenders/mixers, toasters, knife blocks, all should have a space out of sight. For a well-designed bathroom, storage is essential. Make sure your design has plenty of cabinets and counter space. A large sink is unnecessary and takes up valuable counter space.

9. What are some simple or smaller projects a home owner might consider while looking to freshen up the look of their home without the hassle or investment of a large scale project?

To freshen up or update, paint is the best improvement for the money. Painting trim, ceilings, all doors and even cabinets can instantly update your home. Outdoor shutters and garage doors will add curb appeal and instantly transform your home.

10. What is the best piece of advice you would give a homeowner considering a large renovation project?

The best advice I would give a homeowner considering a large renovation project is to consult with a professional. Sometimes trying to save money by doing it yourself can cost more money and brain damage in the long run.

For more information on Paul Lauren Design Consultants, please visit PaulLaurenDesigns.com.