6 different ways to approach your remodeling project.

There are many approaches to remodeling. How you choose to approach your remodel depends on the scope of work, your available time, your level of expertise and your budget. It is important to get a sense for what approach to use when starting to look at your project. After all, you don’t need a chain saw to cut a twig, but also, you would not use a pocket knife to cut a log. In the same way, a lot of times you do not really need to have a large architectural and construction team to remodel your powder room. 

  1. Do it Yourself.

    The first approach to remodeling is DIY. This is typically suitable for projects that are smaller and less complex. I do not recommend this approach for tasks that require plumbing, electrical, mechanical or structural work. The advantage of this approach is that the cost is lower than if you hire the work out. Also, there is nothing more satisfying that telling your friends and family that you worked on tiling the backsplash in your kitchen all by yourself. The disadvantage of this approach is that since you are not a professional, it might cost you time or quality. There is certainly  a learning curve with any DIY projects. My favorite resources for DIY knowledge are Youtube, This Old House and The Spruce. Even with the DIY approach, we can consult with you to figure out the best way to go about your remodel, where to affordably source materials and what you need to look out for during your remodel. 

  2. Hire a Handy(hu)man

    Handyman projects are also smaller in scale. They take a few days at most and don’t require major changes to plumbing, electrical work, mechanical or structural work. Examples of projects that are suitable for handyman projects include: Installing a vanity, ceiling fan and some finish carpentry. It is important to get a sense for what your handy-human’s skills are, and if they align with your project. Not all handymen can do all handy-work. We can consult with you to figure out exact scopes of work for your handy-human, where to source materials, an develop your scope of work and schedule. 

  3. Managing your own subcontractors.

    The next level involves hiring many different trades or subcontractors. You would typically do this if you have managed previous remodel processes, and have a good understanding of what the sequencing of the jobs needs to be. The big advantage is that you would be saving costs, and possibly preventing communication breakdowns.  We can help you find the right trades, create a schedule (sequence) for the work, and assist you with the quality control to make sure the job is being done right.

  4. Hiring a General Contractor.

    A good GC would usually be responsible for overseeing the different trades at a job, sequencing the remodel and quality control. General Contractors typically execute plans/design created by Architects or Designers. They might also need assistance for material sourcing. We can help you as the General Contractor for your remodel. We would also assist with the design and material sourcing.

  5. Design Bid Remodel.

    This is typically for medium to large size remodels, and involves hiring an architect to create plans for a whole home/business, and then providing those plans to solicit bids from different contractors. It is important to give your architect some sense of what your budget is, so that they can design accordingly. However, it is also important to note that your architect will not be able to know how much the project is eventually going to cost. Also, unless your plans have materials specified, the bids can be very varied. Owner representation is especially important for these types of remodels. We can help you find the right architect, communicate cost-saving design adjustments to the architect and manage the bid process to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

  6. Design Build Firms

    Design Build Firms are full service professional firms that would work on both the design work (architectural) as well as the construction (build). They typically work on more medium-to-large sized projects. The accountability in this process is streamlined, and communication should be better. However, there is a wide misconception that the homeowner is completely hands-off once they hire a design build firm. That is not the case. Design Build projects work well with owner-representation included.

These are some ways you can manage your renovation project. What questions do you have about deciding on a remodeling approach?


What does a walkthrough/consultation look like?

Let me walk you through my process.

I recently did a walkthrough consultation with a young couple that was looking to purchase an old historic Spanish bungalow (yes, a Sears kit home!) The home was a one story, three-bedroom, one-bath with a teeny tiny kitchen and the original 1930s closets. (Turns out that people in the 1930s didn’t have as many clothes).  The couple’s main goal was to figure out a way to get the house to function as a modern home that suited their lifestyle. 

I was able to talk through how they could affordably reconfigure some of the rooms to create enough space for a second bathroom.  By only changing some non-load bearing walls they saved money by not having to hire a structural engineer. Another challenge I addressed was figuring out a way to expand the kitchen space to make it larger, more functional, and open to the rest of the house.  I suggested ways they could steal some space from the dining room for this purpose that didn’t disrupt any structural or mechanical elements. Structural work can get pretty expensive, even for relatively “minor” work involving structural (i.e. load-bearing) elements.  

I presented ideas to enlarge some of their closets.  For others were making them bigger was simply not possible, I showed the couple how they could maximize the available space by using a closet organizer.  I also brainstormed ideas with the couple to find ways to “bring the outside in.” The home had a great backyard, and they wanted to figure out some ways to have a seamless flow from the inside to the outside for entertaining and family time.  

Finally, the electrical system had not been updated for many decades, and I would not run anything more than a TV with rabbit ears on it.  Since they would be adding in a new kitchen and central HVAC, I factored that into their renovation plan.  

Once I established the scope of work with the couple, I walked them through the process of hiring the right professionals (an architect and a general contractor for their project).  I also provided them resources to help them navigate the special construction requirements they might have because their home is historical and falls under the Mills Act. Finally I walked them through a realistic project timeline from start to finish.  

Of course I also discussed with them the importance of having a realistic budget and what to anticipate in terms of potentially hidden and unexpected costs.  Some of the items that were on the desired wish list could stay, but others needed to be modified to stay in line with their budget. Finally, I helped them to creatively phase/space out the work in their project in order to meet their budgetary/cashflow constraints.  

My walkthrough session goals were to define a scope of work, to figure out ways to make the work more affordable, to define the phases of the project, to figure out what professionals they needed to hire, and to establish a preliminary sense for the cost of different parts of the project so they could figure out what wishlist items they could include based on their overall budget.   

Are you ready to schedule your own walkthrough?  If so, contact us and let’s get to work!  

Not local to San Diego?   We can also do ‘virtual consultations’ via Skype or FaceTime.  





Get your renovation on track.

If you are not in San Diego or Washington DC, we can still help you.

We hear the stories all the time.

Contractor says it will take three weeks to complete your kitchen. Three months later there is no end in sight.

You went with ‘the cheaper guy’ only to get an insane number of change work orders, and ramping you up to twice your initial budget.

You have not seen your contractor for days, and are having to act as the General Contractor.

Through consultation, we created a comprehensive plan to help you pick the right contractor, keep your renovation on time and on budget. Our beginning to end consulting process will help your home remodel be straight forward and stress free.