Posted by Joe Wride
The topic of remodeling during the pandemic hits close to home. And that’s because it actually hit my home. With clients frequently asking about remodeling projects, I thought I’d share my own experience in dealing with them during these turbulent times.
Back in 2019, Jessica and I bought a more ideal house than the small 2 bedroom 1 bath we had in West Seattle. The new house had a sizable basement, but it was completely unfinished. Even the realtor’s listing said it, “...waits for your creative ideas.” I know a few people in construction, so I asked an architect friend of mine to help evaluate the scope of the remodeling needed. In addition to the basement, it was made apparent that the kitchen was also overdue for an upgrade.
But the more pressing project was the basement - so that’s where Jess and I decided to focus.
The architect indicated that the basement was going to be a relatively straightforward project that could add a lot of value to the house. This was 2019 (pre-pandemic) as well, so this next part is in no way a complaint about him at all. But he gave a quick, hold-your-chin-and-think kind of cost estimate so I could gauge a budget for the project. He said to expect about $150,000 for BOTH the basement and kitchen projects.
Let’s just say, I wish I could’ve signed a contract at that price right then and there...
By the time Jess and I were “ready” to get serious and hire a contractor; and after the architect drew up the plans for the basement, the initial budget range I was provided on 9/28/2020 by the contractor was between $167,120.00 - $192,188.00. And as time went on, both the project’s length and costs started rising.
Here’s a breakdown of the changes I saw:
- On 3/29/2021 I was given a cost breakdown with a grand total of $210,033.42
- On 4/9/2021 I was given a cost breakdown with a grand total of $226,066.52
- On 5/17/2021 I was given a cost breakdown with a grand total of $208,498.74
- On 5/28/2021 I was given a cost breakdown with a grand total of $205,301.49
- Construction began on July 5th, 2021
Thankfully costs have started to fall with these later estimates mostly due to Jess and I scaling down some of our selections (e.g. going with Ikea cabinets for the laundry room instead of something more expensive), but presently it’s still over $13,000 higher than the high-end of the initial estimate. And fluctuations of nearly $20,000 were happening in time frames of less than a month. It’s also worth noting that we are still in the middle of paying for the project as it is not yet complete (today is 12/13/2021). Nearly a year after my initial estimate, our remodeling is still underway and subject to increases in cost.
Crafted Finance’s Solution
As the head of Crafted Finance I help put together plans for my clients to tackle their remodeling projects. And this time I got to humbly experience it firsthand, which I must say was invaluable. And so was the support provided by my wife. Jess was instrumental in keeping me grounded emotionally when making these big decisions.
Even as an experienced professional, a budget can get away from you if you let it. The day-to-day juggling of all the moving parts before, and during a project is quite the roller-coaster. But thankfully there are still core principles to root yourself in regardless of your own unique situation.
Firstly, you’ll need a very clear picture of your present financial situation and where you’re headed. Without a clearly defined understanding of your aims, money coming in, and money going out, you can’t properly approach milestones. At Crafted Finance we help you put all this together. Specifics like living expenses, college funding, and retirement need to be accounted for first before remodeling should be taken on.
With things like retirement, living expenses, and our child’s college being taken care of, I knew we could approach a remodeling project. And I knew how much money we could approach it with. Additionally, Crafted Finance has given me years of experience and expertise on what to expect. Going through this process with other clients showed me how to budget for increases and project delays before I even got started.
Furthermore, being up-to-date with market trends around real estate, lending options, skilled-labor, and homebuilding also allowed me to anticipate delays and costs and adjust our budget appropriately. Lastly, my network of professionals in the real estate and contracting industries were able to provide me with great estimations as well as people for the job.
Getting You Help
If you’re thinking about remodeling your home or are in the process of doing so, you’re not alone. The pandemic has made it difficult to plan. If you're unsure of how to get started or feel stuck where you are, Crafted Finance is here to help.
Feel free to reach out to us at (650) 336-0598 with any questions, or fill out a contact card here, and we’ll reach out to you.