You have a house which you plan to transform into your dream home. You’ve been fantasizing about it for a long time: watching HGTV shows, scouring design magazines and even crashing open houses for inspiration. You know what you want: beautiful, stylish and plenty of room for your lifestyle. It’s exciting! It’s fun! You tell yourself it’s the right thing to do. Or, maybe your decisions are driven by trying to make other family members happy who are stressed out about the current living situation. It’s an emotional home renovation. You hope the project will solve all sorts of issues, including maintenance and repair pains, and lack of space.
It’s easy to get swept up in the emotion of a big renovation, whether that’s excitement or stress, and forget to inject reason into the decision-making process. Especially when many homeowners don’t have real knowledge of the cost, considerations and process, or even a handle on their own big picture. The consequence: many renovation and rebuild projects are driven by emotion with no voice of reason, leading homeowners to make regrettable decisions, incur unnecessary debt, and jeopardize relationships.
Regrettable decisions include those that don’t make sense after a cost versus benefit analysis. For example, consider the homeowner who wants to move a closet wall to add extra space to a bathroom that is used infrequently. A quick, easy and relatively cheap renovation project, right? Not when it is a load-bearing wall that also houses pipes that will need to be rerouted. Homeowners who know this kind of critical information before they become emotionally invested in the project are more likely to apply a reasoned cost benefit analysis, and would likely choose not to go forward with moving the wall.
Unfortunately, not all homeowners have the information or know what to ask to learn these things up front. They may not become aware until midway through the project, when they are committed and invested in the renovation, and proceed to move the wall anyway. Afterward they likely wish they had used the money differently, for better value.
On bigger projects, situations like these can turn up more than once, leading to expensive projects that do not provide overall good value. The voice of reason can be an objective expert consulted early on to ask the right questions and analyze all aspects of the desired plan. This way you make smart decisions before any action is taken or you are emotionally invested in low value plans.
Major renovation and rebuild projects are expensive and typically require financing. To limit the debt you incur, make smart choices to maximize the value you gain in exchange for debt. This means looking at your big picture and understanding how this project fits within it. What are you really trying to achieve for the family? What true value can you build with each part of the reno plan? A proper analysis of needs and wants, in light of the big picture, might show a homeowner that the need behind their want can be met more cost-effectively.
For example, consider the family that wants a rear addition for more space, but has two rooms in their home that aren’t being well used. Wouldn’t it be worth exploring how these existing rooms could be better used before committing to building an addition? This will likely be the more cost effective solution while meeting the same need for more space. The voice of reason is required very early in the renovation concept phase to help families see the forest for the trees, and limit the family’s overall renovation or rebuild debt.
Beyond time and money, renovation and rebuild projects can be hard on relationships. This is especially true when emotional decisions are made without a full understanding of what projects realistically entail in terms of time, money and disruption. It is not uncommon to hear homeowners state at the end of an emotional home renovation project that they have almost doubled or even doubled their original budget and timeline to get it done, like this family.
This is a recipe for stress, resentment and maybe even anger for the person who wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the project to begin with. The situation can be worse when the project creates additional financial burden that cuts the “fun budget”– things that are enjoyable and help maintain healthy relationships. It can also lead to arguments between the decision makers. For example: one partner, tired of the situation, says: “Just do what you want!” even though this is not what they want. Proceeding without their input may just build resentment. Living in the finished home could become a constant reminder of the unhappy process that led to the existing space.
Protect your relationships from the pitfalls of an emotional home renovation by adding an objective voice of reason up front. Someone experienced and organized that can help you learn what these projects really involve, and how to assess whether it makes sense for you. Then, create a thoroughly thought-out plan and detailed, realistic budget.
We Can Help You
Thinking about making change to your home? Talk to us as a first step. Let us be the voice of reason so you can keep fantasizing and enjoy the process. A little analysis and objective strategic advice up front can save you a lot of time, money and stress moving forward with such a project.