Have You Opened Pandora’s Box? Is Your House Pandora’s Box

Whether it is for your own personal enjoyment or for increased success in selling, the minute you embark on a home improvement project, you have likely opened Pandora’s box. If you select and install new counters, who provides the new sink? And you’ll need the sink before the counters can be installed, because the hole that needs to be cut in the counter must meet the precise specifications of the sink manufacturer. And if the demo of the previous counters leaves dents, chips, or dings in the cabinets, who fixes that? Here are a few pointers to making your home improvement project get over the finish line, as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

Get it in writing – Even if you are doing it yourself (DIY,) make sure everything is in writing. Even if you have to write it yourself and have your handyman, contractor, electrician, spouse, or plumber agree and approve of what’s been written, write it down. Write down what’s included and what you’ll need to provide. Understand what terms like “primed to paint” and “roughed-in” mean. Then have a plan and a budget for painting and finishing.

Look at the whole picture – If you’ve picked out a new seamless shower enclosure, do you put it on the existing 30 year old 4” white tile, or do you upgrade the shower walls and floor at the same time? If you’re updating the kitchen with new quartz counters, what are you going to do about the backsplash? Whether or not your project includes a complete gut job or one or two isolated improvements, look at how the pieces fit together and make sure the transitions are accounted for. 

Cover the connections – Pay very close attention to where your improvement project begins and ends. This includes where the new back splash stops at the dry wall, where the new flooring meets the flooring you’re keeping, and how the new disappearing sliding glass door panels fit into the back walls of the house. 

Mind the grout – Whether it’s the tile back splash, counter tops, floor, shower or tub walls, you’ll have to pick out the grout color. As trivial as it seems on the surface, the grout color can make or break the look of your project. And you’ll want to make sure you specify how think you want the grout lines to be, then make sure all of this is written down.

Expect the worst - It feels like every popular home improvement reality show today includes a contractor who is there throughout the project to cover up all the imperfections, handle all the unexpected problems, and smooth the rough edges, but you may not have that luxury. You’re going to have to be the one to handle the problems. And the typical arsenal of solutions is more money, more time, more materials, and/or more expertise.

Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent with Realty One Group. She can be reached at 949-678-3373 or leslie@leslieeskildsen.com.