Ask the person living through a major remodel

I don’t think there’s a thread on this, so I figured I’d start it.

We’re currently a little over six weeks into a major remodel–it’s about halfway finished at the moment. It started out as a kitchen remodel, but we sort of ended up doing almost the entire first floor. We took the original kitchen down to studs, removed two walls (one of which was load-bearing), ripped out all the ceramic tile from our foyer inward, took out the white carpet in our sunroom (who DOES that?), and we’re totally changing the footprint. That includes moving the laundry room, which was in our mud room entry, to the upstairs, as well as moving most of the kitchen into the room that was supposed to be the dining room when we moved in–but the first thing we did when we moved in was move the dining room into the room that was supposed to be the formal living room, seeing as we have a regular living room, a sun room, and a finished walkout lower level. Nobody needs four living rooms. We’re putting slate tile throughout the kitchen and entryway, and extending that out into the sun room (where we’ll also be heating the floor and adding a baseboard heater so we can hopefully use the room year-round). We’ve redesigned the entry from the garage to keep the half bath that was there, but added a small cubby system so we have somewhere to hang our coats when we walk into the house. We moved a hall closet to open up the entryway from the front door, too, and blew out half a wall to open up the entrance to the lower level as well.

Here’s the Flickr gallery of the process, which I update almost daily. Last week, the lower cabinets went in, and we spent this weekend painting (the only part of this entire remodel which we went DIY on). For the rest of it, we hired a design-build firm, which we’ve been VERY pleased with so far.

Ask away!

And as some people may recall my from Cafe’ society thread, I’m going through the same thing.
I’m taking down all the popcorn ceilings and putting knockdown on the ceiling and walls. New light fixtures. New kitchen - cabinets, granite counters, appliances. Hard wood floor through the downstairs. New carpet for the stairs and maybe upstairs. New fixtures in the bathrooms. Maybe enlarge the master shower. Definitely enlarge the jacuzzi in the master. Redo the big empty room into a proper game room, including wet bar. New (bigger!) TVs.

Drain Bead is a few months ahead of me in the process - right now, I just have the ceilings happening. But half my house is basically unusable. In a few days, I’ll have to move out of my master bedroom, and start living in a guest room. I’m still working on a color schemes.

Here’s my flickrgallery.

So…ask away…


Your plans look great - are you DIY? can’t be you are so far along! lol…

WIll you put any timecapsules in the walls? We did in both houses, in the old house we stuffed a newspaper headline and some pressed flowers from the yard in the block for the garage rebuild. In this house, we put gosh now I cant remember what it was, something funny, put it in the oh yeah, The Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, we put it in the wall of the bathroom, before we dry walled it closed -

it gave my kid nightmares that book, something about aliens sniffing underwear - so no loss really…:stuck_out_tongue:

Very cool! I also assume you are using a contractor? If so, how did you choose them? Did you put any specific requirements in the contract about completion dates? How are the kiddos dealing with the changing house? Also, how does one remove a load-bearing wall?

On my end: I have a contractor. He’s an old friend who used to live two doors down from me. He moved out of town after Hurricane Wilma, and just moved back. Before he left, he was a general contractor. Now he’s restarting his business, focusing on kitchen remodeling.

I’ve done some work with him in the past, and I absolutely trust the guy. He’s giving me an awesome deal on the work…basically, I gave him a budget and my wish list. He’s committed to getting everything done, even if it means cutting his labor costs to make it happen.
The flip side is I need to be a bit flexible on timing. Not a big deal to me.

No kids in the picture for me, so no issues there.

I really wanted to move a load-bearing wall, to make my kitchen bigger. But it would mean destroying the formal dining room, and I don’t know what to do with the space left. The “how” is to brace it. You put columns up next to it…knock it down…then put more permanent beams or arch ways to support it.

gotta ask this what prompted you into a bigger project? Did you refi your mortg? or had the spare cash saved?

Our 2 storey addition began as a conversation and a quote for painting the downstairs living areas -

that conversation started an argument which sparked an even bigger idea - then we both found the name of the same contractor, at the same time. Odd coincidence but he was heaven sent, went to hell (municipal planning) and back for us.

Oooh, upstairs laundry is great. I had it at the second place I rented, and I really miss it. Having to truck laundry up- and downstairs sucks, in comparison! I also recommend you do the time-capsule thing. I remember stumbling onto an old newspaper behind the paneling in an upstairs closet as a kid (I can’t remember the year of the paper, but it was at least 30 years old–which to a tweenager is like forEVER ago, duh!). It was the coolest thing ever.

My question–are your costs creeping at all? Obviously your scope has crept upward, since you started a minor project and turned it into something major. And that’s naturally going to increase the total cost. But have they upped any of the initial quotes on you yet?

BTW, I *love *the coloring of that slate tile. What are you using it for?

The only thing we did DIY was the paint. We are not handy people in the least.

We didn’t put any time capsules inside the walls themselves, but on a wall which will eventually be covered by cabinets and backsplash, we painted my daughter’s name and the number 3 (it’s her 3rd birthday today, and the party was Saturday, when we started painting). It’ll probably not be found when the kitchen is next remodeled, because I’d imagine most of it is going to be directly underneath tile, but we know it’s there.

To choose our contractor, I first did a Google search and found firms whose design I liked. I then went to Angie’s List to make sure they were well-rated. Those two things narrowed it down to three, and we interviewed all three of them. All of them quoted us almost exactly the same price, so we just went with the one who impressed us the most at the interview and whose design ideas meshed with ours the most.

There’s nothing in the contract about completion dates. They estimated the project to take 3-4 months. It’s scheduled for 12 weeks, and I think they’re a day or so ahead of schedule. His contract does have a nicely defined payment draw schedule that is fair for both parties, which was a perk.

My daughter is dealing fine with the changes, but she’s always been a bit of a chameleon, so I knew she wouldn’t have issues. She LOVES seeing all the changes. We prepared her a lot by telling her that men were going to be working in our house, and that there would be a lot of mess and it would be really ugly before it was done, but that later she would have a nice new kitchen. The first day of major demolition, she came home to missing walls and everything gone and said “Wow. I love my new kitchen!”

As for removing the load-bearing wall, they first built wood framing supports on either side of the wall. After knocking the wall down, they built a very large beam that was made of alternating metal and wood pieces. They then put that beam in the ceiling. I came home right as they were putting it up, and it was like a barn raising–there were six guys standing underneath this beam, hoisting it into place, basically shoulder-to-shoulder. After it was in, they were able to remove the support walls they built.

First off, we bought this house in 2010, and got it for a steal–the previous owners were following the moving trucks to North Carolina (we live in Ohio) when we made the offer. It had been on the market for eight months, and I’d been watching the price steadily go down. We bought it for $50,000 less than it was appraised at. We knew when we bought it that part of the reason it sat on the market so long was because the kitchen was crap–the last remodel had been done to move the laundry into the mud room, and that actually made the kitchen SMALLER. It was a twisty maze of a floorplan that was impossible for two cooks. We knew we wanted to live in it for a while, get to know its flaws, and fix them all when we remodeled. We also plan on staying in this house for the next 15-20 years, so we knew we could go big and maybe have a hope of recouping our investment–but even if we don’t, we have something that we love when it’s over. We had the cash on hand to do the remodel without a refi, which was nice.

They haven’t upped the initial quotes, although we have found some things that required a bit more money as the project goes on. There was a bit of rotted subflooring underneath the washer and fridge that needed to be replaced. We ended up paying to raise our sun room floor so we won’t have to put a threshold underneath the door going out to there. We decided to have them remove the white casing from the two windows in the kitchen and make new ones stained to match the cabinets. And the built-in banquette has gotten nicer and nicer (and more and more expensive) as time has gone on. :wink:

The slate tile will be the flooring. It’s going to be laid in a Versailles pattern. That is one of the bigger pieces. It doesn’t all have that level of color variation, but that particular piece was on the top of a box and is just gorgeous.

Did you price out slate versus hardwood versus tile? I’m planning for hardwood, but might think about slate in a bathroom or something. I haven’t gotten quite that far in the planning.


I just priced out slate vs. a porcelain slate look-alike. In the end, the price difference wasn’t enough to justify the fact that it wasn’t slate.