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Home Renovation Tips: What’s Trending and How to Save

Home renovation has become a very popular pastime for homeowners. The popularity of shows on HGTV has exploded over the last few years, inspiring people to tackle do-it-yourself projects and use terms such as “rustic” and “farmhouse style” to describe their new looks. Updating your home can give it a totally different feel and is a great way to personalize your space and make it your own. Putting on an addition, knocking down a wall or changing the color of the paint can drastically improve a home’s look, even making it feel like you’re in a new house, without actually having to go through the hassle of packing up and moving. It can also help increase your home’s value.

What’s Trending in Homes Today

Throughout the years, new trends in home renovation and design change and evolve to best suit modern day needs and conveniences. Over the past few years, homes have been getting a more streamlined and sleek appearance, and overall looks are becoming minimalistic instead of ornate. Angela Poposki, project manager and design specialist for Adams MultiCare, said a big trend she sees is what she likes to refer to as a vintage vibe mixed with a modern 2019. “Natural stones, natural wood stains and shiplap are becoming popular,” she said.

The use of bold color has taken a step back while lighter neutrals have taken over, which gives a room a much more open feel and look. While whites and grays have been extremely popular recently, owner of Renovate Interior Design, Trina Ashour, said she sees us on the way out of that trend, with grays combined with more natural tones, such as creams, making a comeback. Decorative tiles are a popular choice for bathrooms and laundry rooms, and quartz and quartzite countertops are taking over the popularity of granite. Although granite has been a popular choice for a while, it’s porous and requires regular maintenance such as sealing. While quartz can be slightly more expensive, it requires less maintenance and offers more color options. Poposki said that she’s seeing a lot of clients install pantry walls that blend in with the cabinets, as well as open shelving to display their dishware.

Vinyl planks and wood-look tile are both popular choices when it comes to changing out flooring, since they’re both very durable and easy to maintain. “Although some people may prefer the look of natural wood, it doesn’t hold up as well in the Florida climate since it expands and contracts and when storms come through and the power is out, the high humidity can make the wood floors cup and warp,” said Mike Gorecki, owner of Summit Bay Construction.

Herringbone pattern has been a popular choice for flooring patterns, adding a bit of European history and charm. Poposki said she’s seeing a lot of her clients install them in their bathrooms and entryways. Open floor plans have also become a more popular option over split floor plans. Formal dining rooms are becoming a thing of the past, as people are removing walls in their home to create multi-use rooms and larger living spaces.

For those who want to make their homes more environmentally conscious, Gorecki recommends installing windows with a low-E rating, which can help eliminate heat coming through the glass and into the home. There are also several wood flooring options and other finished products made from recycled materials that you can look for when comparing product brands.

How to Design on a Dime

A big factor when it comes to renovating a home is the cost. Home improvement can come with a hefty price tag that can fluctuate if things don’t go as planned, or if additional work needs to be done. Since labor is what tends to cost more, the more labor-intensive a project is, the more the price will go up. However, that doesn’t mean that if you’re tight on funds, you can’t create an updated look for your home. The number one cost-effective way to give your space a fresh look is paint. “It’s such an easy way to change the feel of a home and is such a transformative feature,” said Ashour.

Switching out your furniture is also a great way to make your home look new without having to do much work. Ashour recommends looking online at websites such as Wayfair, where furniture is much more affordable than what you’d find in a store. If you have hardwood floors, she recommends refinishing them over installing new ones. If you do want to replace your floors, you’ll save a good amount of money if you’re able to install them yourself. Painting and resurfacing cabinets can cost a fraction of what new cabinets would cost, even less if you take on the project yourself. Something else that may cost more now, but could save you money in the long run is to install hurricane-proof windows, doors and bracing for garage doors. In the event of a hurricane, it’ll save you from having to repair extra damage and once they’ve been installed, you should be eligible for a lower homeowner’s insurance premium.

What You See Is Not Always What You Get

Although it’s fun and inspiring to watch new ideas come to life on TV, there’s a lot more that goes into renovating a home than what you see on a 30-minute show. You may think that couple who just renovated their home on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” now has a picturesque new space that was done with only a $10,000 budget. The truth is, they most likely spent a lot more. What are normally shown on TV are the prices of fixtures and furniture. What they don’t disclose is how much they’ll have to pay the plumber, the electrician and the subcontractors. Some of the designs are also not as functional in real life as they appear on TV. “What’s shown is usually for aesthetics,” said Ashour.

Shows on TV have a tendency to make renovations—particularly DIY projects—seem easier than they actually are and can also portray unrealistic timelines. Although a home may visibly look like it’s been completed, most of the time it’s just for show, and it could be days—if not weeks—before it’s actually move-in ready. Because of this, many people who are looking to renovate their home or add on additions may be blindsided by how long the process could actually take and what costs are really involved. Because of this, Ashour recommends using what you see on TV as inspiration only. “Timelines stress people out if they have an expectation.” Gorecki also advises homeowners to be prepared, as many people will underestimate the inconvenience factor of not being able to utilize rooms during a renovation project. “When unforeseen circumstances arise that lead to delays of a project, that only adds to the frustration.”

What to Look for in a Contractor

Finding a good contractor can be time consuming, but it’s important to do your research and know what to look for. Unfortunately, contractor scams can be common and can happen to anyone. Westchase resident “Jane” (she asked WOW not to use her real name) had a very unfortunate incident when her husband and she chose to renovate their bathrooms two years ago. They knew two project managers who worked for a construction company and, based on that, decided to go with them. Their goal was to completely gut and renovate their master bathroom and guest bathrooms. After giving them a quote within their budget, they began the work. “All of a sudden there was inconsistency of when they would show up, one guy was doing all the work with a few assistants showing up from time to time and at one point he left the country for two weeks and we didn’t know,” she said.

The work, which they were told would take eight weeks to complete, took 15 weeks. Two years later, a minor clog in the drain downstairs and a clog in the upstairs toilet that occurred at the same time led to an extremely unfortunate incident causing water to fill up the shower upstairs and drain into the dining room and laundry room. After contacting their insurance company, which sent a plumber out, they were told that the original work had caused the damage. The toilet and shower had not been installed correctly and the plumbing had not been hooked up right, which led to the flood. “The entire ceiling in the dining room had to be cut out and treated for bacteria since the flooding came from the toilet and our wood floors were damaged.”

The family had to move out of their home, board their dog and live in a hotel room with their one-year-old and their cats for two weeks while the damage was repaired. “It was such a nightmare,” she said.

Unfortunately, stories like Jane’s are all too common. Although you may be familiar with a company or, as in Jane’s case, you know someone who works for the company, it’s still important to do your research and know what questions to ask. “When choosing a contractor, ask for their state license number, a copy of their general liability and workman’s comp certificate,” said Gorecki. “These can be verified by going to the State of Florida website and calling the number on the insurance certificate to make sure coverage is current.”

Almost all project renovations that require electrical and plumbing work require permits to be pulled. In Jane’s case, the company they used wrote in their contract that no permit was needed, which, had she been aware of at the time, would have been a red flag. Gorecki said that this is a benefit to the homeowner, because electrical and plumbing subcontractors must be licensed and insured to be current with the building department in order to schedule inspections of their work. “A certificate of completion cannot be received until all subcontractors’ work has received final approval,” he said. “Homeowners should also be wary of companies who require a large deposit up front, and should always ask for a copy of the certificate of completion before submitting final payment to ensure that the work has been done properly.”

The best way to find a good company is to ask for personal referrals from friends or others you trust. “If people are happy with the work, then they’ll be happy to share their story,” said Poposki. “Good contractors want their work to be a reflection of them.”

When you finally choose a contractor, it’s important to know what information should be presented up front. Always make sure that you receive a targeted, detailed contract that includes all the details regarding the labor and materials, as well as a list of subcontractors and what specific work they will be doing. “Make sure that the payment and the payment schedule are clearly laid out,” said Poposki.

Using a project manager is also important, since they will be the point person to help the project run smoothly. The project manager will help out with material selection and will act as the liaison between the contractor and homeowner. The project manager will also be the one to schedule the subcontractors, ensuring that the work is done in the correct sequence. The contractor should also ask you questions so that they can clearly define your goals and expectations. Proper communication with the contractor is one of the most important elements of any renovation, since lack of communication is where most problems arise.

Knowing what costs may be involved up front can save you from dealing with unexpected bills later. Choosing a less expensive contractor can actually end up costing more in the long run since work may be done incorrectly and will need to be fixed down the road. A good contractor should always be extremely thorough when examining the space to be renovated since they will have a much better idea of what costs will be involved.

Although finding the right person for the job may seem like more of a task than you anticipated, knowing what to look for and doing your research on what’s involved will give you peace of mind in the long run and will help ensure your new space is exactly what you envisioned. When doing research on a contractor, be sure to check, and to ensure they are licensed, up to date and do not have any complaints against them.

Happy renovating!


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