Hurry, take a sigh of relief.  Tax season is almost over and now you can breathe. If you are one of the lucky Americans anxiously awaiting a refund you can start planning on how to spend that money.  Consider Sweat Equity.

Our parents always told us its best to invest, right?  That is hard to do when you come off of the holiday season and head straight into tax season.  You want to do something for yourself, am I right?  Well, there is a way to “have your cake and eat it too”.

As a homeowner you are sitting on a huge investment opportunity.  A basic kitchen or bathroom remodel can bring more than 100% return on investment when it comes time to sell.

So, whether you are thinking of upgrading, downsizing or just creating a space you can relax and enjoy here are some things to consider before you start making improvements to everyones 2 favorite rooms.

What is your end game?

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If you are looking at sprucing up your space for resale you might want to consider what your ideal buyer would want. Try and anticipate their wish list.  Will they be looking storage, functionality, or the latest trends?

On the other hand, if you are trying to build that sweat equity, but plan on staying put for a while, then you need to decide what matters to you. Make your design your own dream come true.

Make sure that your sweat equity will matter to the one living with it. The take away here is that the value is certainly in the eye of the beholder.  So make sure you ask who are the beholders going to be and what will speak to them.

DIY or hire the pros?

So last night you sat down and binge watched your favorite DIY Network show and you are ready to become the house flipping champion.  Well, while there are plenty of ways to DIY your sweat equity, kitchens and bathrooms might not be the place to start.   You want to make sure that they look perfect.  That is why it is best to spend a little extra on them and hire the professionals to take on this challenge.

Just because you hire the pros doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do. Consider doing the demo yourself.  This will save you some cost in labor fees.  Maybe you really don’t want to get that dirty, try your hand at being the interior designer dreams are made of and find or create pieces to stage the space and add your own personality.

Remember this is an investment so you need to make sure that you do not lose out on the potential by cutting corners.

Big Box vs. Custom

Beautiful Bertch Cabinets in Black Hawk, Colorado master bedroom. Custom designed to encase the gas fireplace.I know how hard it is to wait on something perfect in a big box world, but in remodeling you have to choose between exactly what you dreamed of, and almost what you were looking for.  Sure you can walk into any number of “big box stores” and find almost the perfect look. In many cases you can do it on your own time and even get the pros to install it for a fee. This might work in a pinch but almost always comes with buyer’s remorse and if you have problems or need help after the job is done who do you even call?

Then there is always that mortifying moment when you realize every home on the block has the same kitchen.  Suddenly you feel like your beautiful new space is some cookie cutter design.  Is it even sweat equity if everyone else has the same stuff?

If you choose the other option and visit a custom kitchen and bathroom provider, they have time to really get to know you and your vision.  They will be able to help you find the picture perfect design for you and your budget.

In most cases they will perform a field visit and physically see and measure your space.  They will handle the ordering and installation scheduling.  If you have questions or if there is a problem you will know exactly who to call.  Most importantly they will know you and the project.  There is value here; even if the value is simply your sanity, and let’s face it, sanity is a precious commodity.

Manage your expectations  

While we are talking about sanity, remember to manage your expectations and plan accordingly when taking on any home renovation project.

Remodeling comes with mess and a splash of chaos.  If you have a designer, they should be a key part in ensuring the chaos is organized and they should also be doing everything they can to help things stay on track.  Realistic expectations are imperative to your peace.

Remodeling will not happen overnight. I know, I know you think I am crazy, you have seen it happen on TV a million times, it takes an hour to completely remodel a kitchen, right?  Unfortunately, it is hard to remember that reality TV in many ways lacks the reality component.

You need to have a plan for eating while you are without your kitchen. If you are remodeling your bathroom make sure that you have another to use during the process.  It might sound like common sense but it is so easy to forget the details when you are keeping your eye on the prize.

If you go into a renovation with the logistics in the back of your mind you will feel much less inconvenienced and the stress component will be diminished.

Its not called “sweat equity” because it is easy.

Speak Up

Also, Construction of any kind is loud, messy, and invasive.  If you have small children, pets, allergies or any other concern about the messy truth of a remodel, talking to your designer in the beginning will go a long way.  It is a lot easier to know that a homeowner is concerned about something beforehand so that plans to mitigate the concern can be made.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until you are miserable and angry, that is a lot harder to fix.  Designers and installers do their best to keep the invasive nature of a remodel in control but knowing that you need the house quiet during nap time or that they need to be extra careful about dust or odors will help them to help you.

Trust me, installers do not enjoy their job as much if they feel like an inconvenience.  Everyone is on your team and they want this to be a happy and exciting time for you.

When scheduling a remodel, consider your schedule when making the plans.  If you always host grandma’s birthday and it is in 2 weeks maybe having the kitchen remodeled the week of the big day is a bad idea.  Not only does that add unnecessary stress on you it doesn’t allow for any hiccups.  In a perfect world the remodel will happen in a timely manner with no major issues but in any project with lots of moving parts there will likely be delays.

If you have any upcoming events that you need to accommodate make sure you discuss them in your design meeting.  The designer will know what their team can accomplish and what a healthy timeline will look like.

Enjoy the spoils of Your Sweat Equity

Kitchen update with Medallion Silverline cabinets and quartz counters.

This is the best part for any designer or installation team: the end result.  Good designers understand that you are entrusting them with your vision and dream, but also, in many cases a huge piece of your savings.

While the process might be hairy and stressful, the rewards are endless.  Think of your designer as your voice.  If you have questions or concerns speak up.  They truly get rewarded when their client’s dreams finally come to fruition.

So when it’s all said and done you have followed your parent’s advice and invested, but you have also given yourself a gift, so relax and soak in your new spa or cook up a great meal for family and friends.

Join the conversation on Facebook and tell us about your renovation plans or dreams.