Six Steps to a Successful Home Remodel

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Did you know that 80% of Portland homes were built before 1980? It’s true, and for most home buyers, it’s a plus. Many of our 70’s and 80’s ranch homes, midcentury marvels, and well-built turn of the century bungalows and foursquare homes have good bones — they just need an imaginative eye to renovate them.

If you’re looking for a Portland remodel project, you’re not alone. Several of Portland’s most famous and well loved landmarks are old homes that got saved from the wrecking ball and turned into something beautiful. When you need a break from touring Portland homes for sale, be sure to go for a tour of Pittock Mansion in West Portland, cruise by the nearby Watzek house, and check out Ainsworth House in the Southwest Hills (which is open for a public tour day at the end of November).

While your home remodel may be less ambitious and historical in nature, it’s good to keep an eye out for Portland’s hidden gems. Check out our blog post on the various architectural styles you may observe while touring Portland homes.

Once you and your Portland buyer’s agent have made a successful offer on the Portland home you hope to remodel, what’s next?

  1. Look for inspiration. Not only can you tour a few of the marvelous Midcentury Modern, Victorian, Craftsman and updated ranch-style homes in Portland in person, you can find even more inspiration online. Here’s a listing of Portland-made blogs that focus on home remodel projects:
    – 1911 Portland Foursquare House
    Hillsdale House
  2. Set a budget. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the biggest factors affecting your budget are: Whether there will be structural changes needed to the home (removing walls, adding rooms), age of the home’s “infrastructure” (electrical, plumbing, etc.), your preference for materials, and how much custom or craftsman work you’ll want to put into the home.
  3. Create a timeline. So many people leave this out, and it’s so important for everyone’s sanity. You don’t want to live in a construction zone for the next decade, do you? Okay, maybe you do. Either way, have a plan to wrap up each room or project by a set date. Especially on a tight budget, something that can help a lot is being willing to do some of the work yourself. Not everyone is a latent craftsperson, but most of us can handle some demolition work, painting or shopping for recycled materials at a bargain price.
    Please note that it is tough to get a good Portland contractor to start work next week right now. Many are booked up until next year! With our low unemployment rate and recent strong increases in home equity, there is a little discussed remodeling boom and not enough good contractors to go around, so plan ahead!
  4. Choose your team. Even if you’re a hardcore DIY-er, there are some things you’ll want to leave to the pros. If you plan on changing the footprint of the home, raising the roof or any other major change, hire an architect. They’ll help you with everything from defining contracts with builders to getting permits from the City of Portland. Plumbing and electrical work should always be done with — at the very minimum — the supervision of a licensed professional. (As your Portland real estate agent, I beg you to keep potential resale complications in mind.)
  5. See it through. It’s easy to get burnt out with remodeling projects. Keep the final goal in mind, whether you need to tack up pictures from Architectural Digest in your closet or hold yourself accountable to the public by launching your own remodel blog. Don’t settle for good enough. You’ll be much more comfortable in your home once it’s finished to your customized design!
  6. Talk to your agent. If you’re considering selling in the next 12 months, your Portland real estate agent would love to talk to you! It is good to remodel with the real estate market in mind and not just for your personal preference – if you are planning to sell soon. Let your real estate agent have input on what to do and what not to do. We see a lot of houses and experience first hand what sells and what does not.
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