Yesterday, I spent some time helping a friend who was in a pickle. Four years ago he renovated his garage into living space. Fast forward to today, he's trying to sell his house, and the buyer's lender wanted to make sure that the renovation was done correctly. Thankfully, the days of swearing on your mother's grave that all work is safe and completed to code are almost exterminated, but my friend didn't get a permit for the renovation at the time. Thus, I found myself with my friend's Realtor at the building department trying to figure out how to get a permit, ex post facto.This brought up an interesting discussion with the inspector. I understand that most people see permits as another form of taxation or government intrusion. However, in this case, it actually is holding my the sale of my friend's home because the lender wants to make certain that the asset their lending for 1) won't fall in or burn down, and 2), can be sold with the renovation if the buyer defaults. Another hidden benefit of permitting is home insurance rates. In the not too distant past, the city of Indianapolis was struggling to get inspectors to key phases in residential construction. You know, things like making sure footings were correct; structure was properly specified and fastened properly; and there were no electrical or plumbing problems. If the contractor called for an inspection at any of these phases, the understanding was that they only had to wait 24 hours, and if an inspector did not appear, they could continue with their work. So, you guessed it, not all projects were built to code, and some of them failed, because, at the end of the project, the contractors only needed to mail a little postcard to the city basically swearing that they built the project to code. These poor inspection practices - and the results thereof - caught the attention of the insurance rating board and Indianapolis received a poor rating. This drove homeowners' insurance higher. Enter a new sheriff in town, who cleaned things up, categorized permitting much better, and, yes, raised some permit fees. Of course, raised fees didn't set well with some folk, but the fees went to hire a couple dozen more inspectors and installed an inspection review/dispatch system that keeps those inspectors efficient and completing almost 100% of the required inspections. Once again, the inspection practices caught the attention of the insurance rating board and Indianapolis received a high rating. Homeowner's insurance premiums went down. Wouldn't you rather have a higher one-time permit fee, and the benefit of lower annual premiums for the rest of your life? Oh! My friend? In order to get an inspection and thus a Certificate of Occupancy, he'll have to apply for a permit, remove a good amount of drywall, fix some issues with the gas-fired water heater which is now in a living space, request an inspection, patch it all up (assuming he's done all the work to code), paint it, and then, his buyer can get a loan.
So many of us are into HGTV's shows, and lately, I've been obsessed with Chip & Joanna Gaines on HGTV's Fixer Upper. Have you ever thought, "I wish I could get into a house and have the beauty that they show AND have instant equity"? Have you ever wondered why they buy a house, and then find the problems? Have you had those thoughts and then put them out of your mind because you know a TV crew isn't going to show up in your driveway and you figure remodeling won't turn out that easy? Seriously, you CAN experience this for yourself...just without the TV crew.
Last year, a homeowner agreed that the design/build process was best for their upcoming addition and remodeling project. Their contractor, Schrier Contracting, LLC, knew that their satisfaction would be increased if they were included intimately in the design process of their project. Their list was quite succinct:
- 2-car garage addition
- laundry room/storage
- home office
- kitchen remodel
- and, more light in living space
How can you increase the space without adding to the footprint? Oh the fun tricks of being a remodeling designer! Really, the trick isn't that tricky. You want to know the secret? Remove the inefficiencies of the traffic pattern. It's that simple. Ah, but that's also tricky. The other trick is...
You've heard the adage "plan your work, work your plan" right? Sometimes, one should just "go with their gut" and do something, but I don't think that should apply to remodeling or building in most cases; especially if you are doing structural alterations. I've heard of, and seen, too many projects where the plan was "Fire, Aim, Ready" and the project languished, and everyone was suffering because of it. Lately, we've had the opportunity to give a "master plan" type of service to several remodeling clients, and I wanted to share some of these ideas with you today. Two of the projects are residential, and one is a commercial project to build townhouses.
Literally, we raised the roof, and the whole house. A client of ours needed a new home and wanted to find one in which they could make their mark. They found a humble, one-story, brick ranch-style home and came to us to see what they could do. This is what we came up with thru the design process. This project gives a new light to home remodeling!