The 4 Challenges of Home Remodeling

Planning Appropriately for a Renovation




Finally, after  months of looking at homes in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and El Segundo, you walk into a home that has the almost perfect layout… except the kitchen is dated, the floors need upgrading, the bathrooms need help and the exterior… well that’s another story… But the price is right and you’ve always wanted to customize a home … so you buy it with renovation in mind. How hard could it be? After all, those television experts remodel a home over the course of a weekend.

Buying a fixer presents many challenges. If you’ve never lived through a renovation, you’ll be tempted to underestimate how long it will take..Living in a home during major construction is challenging..   Washing dishes in the bathtub gets old. Eating out every night is expensive. Constant noise and strangers saying good morning at 7:30 every morning can be distracting   Couples who stay together through a home renovation will be together forever!


No matter what you see on your favorite TV remodeling show, following an exact timeline is just about impossible.  For many projects, the actual physical labor is the least amount of time spent on the project.  Many projects require far more non-physical-labor time than the actual construction work. There are approvals, plans, permits, shopping for materials, shipping time for materials, weather delays and things that must be done well in advance of taking down the first wall.  Ask anyone who has submitted plans to any Beach City planning department about how long it takes to get formal approval from the city.

Hidden delays

Once you have all your plans and approvals in place, the next potential delay may come sooner than you think. In kitchen and bath renovations, the possibility that plumbing or mold problems may upset your timeline increases. Even newer homes can have broken pipes or seepage problems that have been hidden behind the walls, fixtures and cabinets. Once you’ve opened them up, they must be repaired. Older homes may need new wiring and other electrical upgrades to bring the renovations up to code.

My Dad always said do it right once so you don’t have to do it twice.  It’s not a good idea to try to hurry or take shortcuts on repairs. When the inspector reviews the work, you may end up with more delays if the work must be torn out and redone to meet code. Making sure things are done to code is an important factor when it comes time to sell.  After the fact permits are not cheap!

If the home was built prior to the ’70’s, your renovations may expose lead or asbestos. The cleanup for either requires special certification. Disposal requirements for either element may increase your bottom line as well, so plan for that contingency.

Stay or go

Homeowners often fail to fully consider the ramifications of not having a bathroom or kitchen for weeks at a time. Not only does it affect everyday life, it can pose a danger for children and pets. Not only can exposed asbestos or lead cause illness, but displaced tools, nails and other sharp objects may injure unsuspecting family members. During construction, expect a considerable amount of dust and debris. Clothing, dishware and other personal items may collect drywall dust. Breathing in dust, mold, and other detritus from construction can trigger respiratory illnesses.

You may need to plan for temporary shelter to keep family life running smoothly.

Hidden costs and other options

All of these delays can affect your bottom line. In fact, underestimating and not planning for contingencies can derail your renovation before it’s completed. Underestimating construction costs is such a common problem that many contractors routinely factor in an additional 20% to 30% to protect their ability to realize a profit. If you’re doing the work yourself, these additional costs and delays can strain both your bank account and your patience.

None of this means you shouldn’t  remodel.. It just means you need to be aware that not everything you see on HGTV is realistic.  If you don’t have a lot of free time to oversee the renovation work it might make more sense to pay a little more upfront and buy a home needing less work.

If renovation is your passion ask for referrals from friends who had done work. Ask for references, check with the state contractor board. See if you can look at a home where the contractor did the work.  be ready to inspect on a daily basis work that has been completed. it is a lot of work but it can also be very rewarding.


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