I have been remodeling homes as a license contractor for over 6 years on my own and have over 10 years of experience in the residential home construction industry. This may come to a big surprise but I have to say that Remodeling is not all it's cracked up to be. At lease here in the midwest where home prices are low, you are usually better off buying a new house.
TV Shows give people unrealistic expectations for remodeling their home
The home improvement trend is fueled by DIY television shows, the only agenda for a TV show is to get the highest ratings possible. The more people that they can convince that this is a great way to save some money, the more people that get sucked into their show. Not only do they provide unrealistic budgets for their projects but there is also a lot that gets covered up. On TV, you cant spot a poor drywall finish, streaky paint job, gaps in trip, cast iron left in walls, or improper techniques that lead to failures down the road.
Stop doing your own remodels to save money
This is why I am such a fan of buying a new house. Most older homes in my area have been remodeled by homeowner themselves. I for one don't want to live in a house that was hacked together.
Most "contractors" also do incredibly shoddy work. I put in a water heater
for a client yesterday and they had Nebraska Furniture Mart install tile in their kitchen. They skipped the backer board and installed the tile right to the subfloor. It's only a matter of time before that installation fails. Not only did they use the wrong technique but they also didn't even come close to creating a flat surface. The homeowners are selling the house so it's really not their problem.
Sometimes a remodel can be visually appealing by under the surface big problems could be hiding. An updated bathroom that is still utilizing cast iron drain lines throughout could mean that the whole thing has to be redone a few years down the road.
Here in the midwest there are a lot of basements, many of which have been finished by a homeowner or low level contractor. As a contractor who used to focus on basement finishing
, I have had at least two dozen homeowners who wanted to demo and refinish their basement because it was poorly finished. This means that the basement being finished actually sets them back about $5,000 just to complete the demo. Some of the biggest problems with people finishing their own basement start with the layout. It's also common to see improper framing techniques, dangerous electrical connections, improperly installed doors, sloppy tile, horrid drywall, and poorly painted trim work.
Major remodeling projects only work in certain areas
I sometimes watch the show Property Brothers that is based around buying a fixer upper to give these homeowner more bang for their buck. The show is a bit misleading because like all TV shows they make their money from the ratings. They put more into their budget than their numbers really show. Not only that but they are hiring the crews that they work with are no doubt at the top of their field. Most people that hire a contractor will go with a lower to middle of the road contractor.
In order to take on a major remodel you have to really love the area. For the major remodels it's nice to be able to find a house that is priced 100,000 + less than the other homes in the neighborhood. Don't think that you are going to get ahead by doing some of the work yourself or hiring a buddy that you know that dabbles in construction. If you want to take on a major remodel you need to choose a contractor that has completed several projects that are of the same scope. In most cases you are going to get what you pay for.