Posts tagged home renovations
Tips to Stay Sane During Your Home Renovation

It’s not like what you see on TV, where a glamorous host seems to magically transform a house before your eyes. It takes several weeks or even months, depending on the size of your project. And it takes blood, sweat, tears and lots of dust. Of course, with a little bit of preparation, those tears can be tears of joy once you see your newly renovated home. We manage home remodels of all different sizes, from whole home renovations to projects that stay in just one room, most commonly a kitchen or bathroom. We’ve also lived through these renovations in our own homes. A whole home remodel typically means that you’ll need to temporarily relocate. But plenty of our clients stay in their homes during a renovation. We’ve gathered our best tips of what you can do to live through a home remodel while keeping your sanity.

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1.     Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.

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Embarking on a home renovation project is exciting! You’ll start imagining yourself cooking in your new kitchen or putting your feet up in front of the fireplace of your new home addition. You’ll want to drop off that deposit check and have us start demo right away. But not so fast. The planning and preparation can take several weeks or months while we source your products and start placing orders. In stock tile or fixtures can be at your front door within a few weeks. But something custom made or in a specialty finish can take over 8 weeks. The last thing we want to do is to demo your kitchen and then have you live amongst the rubble for weeks with nothing to show for it. We’ll work with you to determine all we need to order for your new space. You can help keep the process moving by approving selections and costs as we give them to you. We don’t like to do demo until we have everything we need to put it all back together. This part can seem like an eternity, but trust us when we say it is worth the wait and will save time in the long run.

A renovation project can seem like hurry up and wait. You’ll have a flurry of activity at your house, only to then have weeks where nothing seems to happen. In a typical kitchen or bathroom remodel, demolition will take a few days. You’ll hear lots of noise and see lots of dust. But then, it’s going to be quiet for a while as our plumbers rough in plumbing and our electricians do their thing. This behind-the-scenes effort takes some time.  Sometimes, their work is not immediately evident either. But it is an important part of making your new space functional and safe. After plumbing and electric, your room will start to come together again, as you see tile, cabinetry, faucets, appliances and more. The space will start to look like the kitchen or bathroom that you have dreamed of. Understanding the basic timeline will help you see the progress over time.

 Of course, a schedule is not set in stone. When you’re undertaking a large renovation, you never know what is lurking behind your walls. Sometimes, we find electrical, plumbing or structural issues that need to be addressed before the project can go on. 

2.     Know the Schedule.

A renovation project can seem like hurry up and wait. You’ll have a flurry of activity at your house, only to then have weeks where nothing seems to happen. In a typical kitchen or bathroom remodel, demolition will take a few days. You’ll hear lots of noise and see lots of dust. But then, it’s going to be quiet for a while as our plumbers rough in plumbing and our electricians do their thing. This behind-the-scenes effort takes some time.  Sometimes, their work is not immediately evident either. But it is an important part of making your new space functional and safe. After plumbing and electric, your room will start to come together again, as you see tile, cabinetry, faucets, appliances and more. The space will start to look like the kitchen or bathroom that you have dreamed of. Understanding the basic timeline will help you see the progress over time.

 Of course, a schedule is not set in stone. When you’re undertaking a large renovation, you never know what is lurking behind your walls. Sometimes, we find electrical, plumbing or structural issues that need to be addressed before the project can go on. 

3.     Drop It Like Its Hot.

Drop those drop clothes all over the place. Renovation is a messy job. Or crew is meticulous, but dust and dirt is inevitable. We’ll seal up the room where we are working as much as we can. Plus, we clean up before we leave each day. Protect your belongings by packing up what you can and covering up larger furniture items in adjacent rooms. If you decide to stay in your home during renovation, pick a place where you can cook, eat and just relax that is far from the demo debris. Many of our clients do stay put during construction, but some find temporary housing elsewhere. 

4.     Channel Your Inner Marie Kondo.

If you’re clearing out a room to make space for renovation, use this time to declutter and organize. Are you surprised by the number of boxes you’re packing up as you’re clearing out your kitchen? Before you pack it away  (only to unpack it a few months later), take stock of the appliances and cooking tools that you’re holding on to. You’ll love your new space that much more if it is organized off the bat.

 5.     Don’t Demo What You Can Donate.

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Talk to your contactor about what can be reused or repurposed. So many of our clients want to minimize the environmental impact of their renovation and do some good for their community. In the Cincinnati area, we work with Restore to come and pick up cabinetry, appliances, and plumbing fixtures to be sold in their second-hand store, proceeds of which benefit Habitat for Humanity. Check your own community or Habitat for Humanity website to see what is available in your area. Many of our clients find the process of donating their old appliances and cabinetry therapeutic. 

6.     Keep Talking.

Start with a preconstruction meeting before anyone starts swinging a hammer. Make sure you are on the same page as your contractor.  Our clients receive a weekly email, so that they have the big picture week by week of what is next in the construction process. Before a major milestone, we’ll schedule face to face meetings as well. And we’re always just a text or phone call away. 

Above all, before you start the process, make sure you have a contractor you like and trust. After all, for a major home renovation, a contractor could be in your home for weeks or months—or longer. Our goal is to have you miss us when we’re gone!

Are you ready to get started?

Give us a call and we’ll work with you to put together a plan.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Tackling a major remodel requires a fair amount of juggling, especially one like we managed for the HGTV Urban Oasis in Cincinnati, Ohio.. There’s a linear nature to a project like this, one foot in front of the other. There’s an order in which projects have to be completed. It can be a challenge, even for the best of us. And that’s the beauty of being a custom builder. We understand the order, how to manage it, and, more importantly, how to juggle it when things don’t go quite as planned. But add a television camera and a celebrity’s schedule to the mix and you have one heck of a project. It was a balancing act, to say the least, but we couldn’t be prouder of the outcome.

 

We’re proud to say that we completed the remodel, including the two-story addition, in 6 months and three days. For a house that was stripped down to the studs, this is quite an accomplishment. But for a house that was stripped down to the studs, rebuilt, and given a two store addition, along with a complicated TV production schedule. . . our timeframe is nothing short of a miracle. 

 
 

For as many exciting parts of a total home renovation that you may witness on your favorite HGTV or DIY Network show—like demo days and big reveals—there are a lot of little details that aren’t so exciting. Like watching paint dry. It’s all part of the process, it has to be accounted for in the timeline, but drying paint does not make for good television. It was sometimes a bit of a balancing act in getting work completed and making sure we hit certain milestones at specific times in order to align with camera crews and celebrity schedules. 

 

A construction zone is a noisy place. And the noise is often, ahem, colorful. But when filming a family show, we had to hammer quietly. And speak politely. 


 

Since our goal was to remodel a home AND have it done as part of an hour-long television show, we had to do our job perfectly and in a way that was entertaining. Usually, on the job site, The English Contractor founder and namesake, Craig Russell is our fearless leader. However, for the HGTV Urban Oasis 2018 home in Cincinnati, the producer was in charge. That meant redoing a project or two, once or twice (or maybe it was 10 times! We’ll never tell!) just to make sure that the camera got the best shot possible. And we still got it all done in 6 months and 3 days!

All in all, we’re thrilled with the final HGTV Urban Oasis project—the house itself and the episode. We loved working hand in hand with our HGTV friends Egypt Sherrod, Brian Patrick Flynn and Dan Faires, watching them do what they do best while we did what we do best. We couldn’t imagine a better partnership. We’d watch paint dry with that crew any day!

 
Home Renovation Partnership
 

A major home renovation project is often the result of an amazing partnership, a combination of craftsmanship and art, a shared vision, and a well-honed relationship between contractor, architect and designer. Although there are many types of projects of different scope and scale that The English Contractor can act as your full-service provider, there are certain projects that depend on this beautiful partnership. But how do you know what professionals to call in for your home renovation project? First, it is important to understand which role that each professional will play in the process. It’s so much more than a business transaction—it’s an ongoing partnership!

 
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Architect

For large scale home renovations, additions or completely new builds, we recommend that you start with an architect. They’ll listen to you for an understanding of what you hope to accomplish for your new space, as well as your budget, so they can help put together a plan to make it all happen. Additionally, you can hire an architect to manage your project from start to finish, making sure that your initial vision remains in the forefront throughout the process.

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Designer

A designer can take your architectural plans to the next level by adding beauty and style to form and function. A designer can help you finalize and customize your floor plan with the addition of details like built-ins or cupboards. What’s more, a designer can often help with color and material ideas—including furnishing the finished product.

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Contractor

The job of the contractor is to bring all of these plans to life. Once they have the architectural and designer plans in hand, they can help you nail down the final cost of the project, including labor and materials. They will manage the nuts and bolts of the project, bringing in the right people at the right time, like carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. A contractor will oversee the project from beginning to end, at times working with the architect and designer to tweak final designs. Your contractor is on the front lines of the project, bringing it to completion and tackling hurdles along the way. That’s why we think it’s important for a contractor to have an eye for detail and a bit of creativity, in addition to skilled craftsmanship.


Of course, there are plenty of home projects that don’t require a complete team. Are you wondering what types of projects are best for the architect/designer/contractor triumvirate and which ones a builder like The English Contractor can handle on our own? If you’re ready to start planning your Cincinnati-area home renovation or new build, give us a call!

A Star is Born!
 

Hollywood’s got nothing on Cincinnati! And while building a new home or undertaking a huge renovation is not all fun and games, we sure had a great time working with the team at HGTV on this year’s Urban Oasis.

In many ways, the HGTV Urban Oasis home began like any other project: with a phone call. And that’s how it usually begins for us. With a phone call, an email or a message on Facebook. Because as we all know, there is a huge vetting process with hiring a contractor. You want to know if they have handled similar projects before. You want to know what problems they have encountered and how they’ve addressed them. Do they stick to their budget? Do they reasonably mange timelines? But of course, in this case, our mysterious client wanted to know if we could manage all of the above, while completing the project in complete secrecy.

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The HGTV Urban Oasis home is a show stopper and its Cincinnati red curb appeal makes it a traffic stopper too.

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Working in secrecy has its challenges.

When we manage a large project, the project is given a name—usually the client’s name—to help us manage our queue. We need the last name to help with our deliveries—things like building materials, or, ahem, an outdoor loo. As a nod to our English heritage, this project was nicknamed Windsor. Could be a common last name, could be royalty? Who knew? Although we know that some of our vendors, suppliers and neighbors were suspicious, we tried to explain everything away. You saw a camera? We’re filming a commercial. An HGTV celebrity sighting? Surely it must be a Cincinnati doppelganger. You must be seeing things! Although we typically take before and after photos, our crew was under strict orders not to breathe a word of it or take one picture. We stuck to the letter of the law. We know it can be difficult to keep a big secret under wraps, especially in a small city like Cincinnati. But if the secret got out early, we can guarantee, it wasn’t from one of our crew.

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Of course, now the word is out. The show has aired! We’ve given televised tours of the home. And the home is frequently in the background of many an Instagram selfie. Have you been following the star of Cincinnati’s latest reality show? The HGTV Urban Oasis home is a show stopper and its Cincinnati red curb appeal makes it a traffic stopper too.  Post your picture and tag us on Instagram @theenglishcontractor.