Above: Built with wheelchair access in mind, this remodeled bath by Casa Verde Design in Edina will be elegant and functional for years to come.
Whether you live in a city or suburb, you may have observed a bumper crop of dumpsters sprouting in your neighborhood like so many early crocuses. If so, you won’t be surprised to learn that residential remodeling in the Twin Cities is going gangbusters—even before the traditional spring thaw gets underway.
While new home construction spurts and sputters, spending on home improvements neared $300 billion nationwide in 2013 and likely will hit record levels this year, predicts the Joint Center of Housing Studies of Harvard University. Low interest rates, more confidence in the economy, pent-up demand, recovering home values, baby boomers wanting to age in place, and young homeowners investing in old-house improvements are all driving the remodeling boom, according to the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Thanks, at least in part, to our moderate winter (by 2014 standards), many NARI members saw no January slowdown this year and already are booked months out.
What this means for you and that whole-house remodel or new kitchen you’ve been dreaming about: Get the process underway. Because you’ve got homework to do before you pull the trigger.
1. Do your research
Collect examples of rooms you love with tear sheets from magazines like Midwest Home, on Pinterest boards, in Houzz idea books, or in a handy desktop folder. This same process can help you narrow down local professionals: the designers, architects, and builders whose work you admire. Home tours that showcase local projects likewise allow you to see real-life remodels and meet the people behind them. Ask friends, neighbors, and colleagues about their experiences with area experts. Most everyone has stories (good or bad) they’re eager to tell.
2. Set a realistic timeline and budget
The pros are your guides to redesigning spaces, selecting materials and finishes, managing the construction process—and developing timelines and budgets. You know there’s nothing real about a reality-TV show gutting and rebuilding a kitchen in 24 hours, but you may not know how a construction timetable typically unfolds.
You know what you want to spend on your remodel, but you may not know if your budget matches your dream. A recent Houzz survey found that more than half of respondents who recently remodeled kitchens budgeted less than $25,000—but only 40 percent spent less than $25,000. Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report estimates the cost of a midrange kitchen remodel in Minneapolis at $64,138 and an upscale one at $125,657. Bathroom remodels range from $20,338 to $60,049.
Budget discussions typically occur in a project-feasibility meeting—before preliminary design begins—says Andrew Schmidt, president of Amek Custom Builders in Bloomington and 2014 president of NARI. The more details solidified upfront, the less the chance of cost overruns—which are unpleasant for everyone. Clients have the dream, he says, and Amek wants to bring it to life for them.
3. Hire pros
To ensure your architect, designer, or builder will be a good fit for you and your project, be diligent in the hiring process. NARI suggests interviewing remodelers, requesting a list of recent projects, checking references, and verifying that the contractor is licensed by the state.(See narimn.org for numbers to call and questions to ask.) The American Institute of Architects Minnesota also offers advice on working with architects at aia-mn.org.
By Chris Lee
Photo by Andrea Rugg
Interior Designer: Casa Verde Design
Builder: Quality Home Transformations