Friday, October 23, 2009

What you Like and what you Don't

What's your biggest complaint about your about your home? What do you love most about your home? These are two questions that I recently posted on my Twitter feed and on my Facebook page. The responses that came back were perfect. Every one was different.

That's the point.

Some talked about maintenance, some their attached garage, one even traveled the philosophical road opining about house versus home. Just as no two of us are alike, none of us will answer these questions exactly the same. So think about the questions. They may not mean much to you now. But one day, when it's time to Renovate your home or Design and Build a new home or Buy another existing home, you'll be better prepared for task than you might imagine.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ready or Not, Here I Come

I don’t know about you but I’m not ready for winter. I was standing out on a jobsite yesterday in the rain … it was 43 degrees and the wind was sweeping across the planes at a brisk 15 miles per hour. To add insult to injury Billy, the sprinkler guy, was blowing the water out of the lines and, thanks to Mr. Murphy and his law, there just happened to be a head two feet to my left and aimed right in my direction. My jacket wasn’t heavy enough or dry enough, I really could have used a hat and a pair of gloves, and my shoes are still drying out. Ok, I should have been better prepared.

So what about your home? Is it ready for winter? It will go through everything that we experience outside (and complain about) this winter. The wind, the rain, the snow and ice; we don’t like standing out there exposed and under-dressed. But that’s all your house ever does. It just stands there and takes all of the abuse that Mother Nature dishes out and keeps you warm and safe and dry.

It’s time to take care of all the painting and caulking and insulating that you’ve been putting off all summer. It’s a great time to get a full Energy Audit. You’d better fix those cracked window panes make sure your storm windows are in. The good news is that there’s a lot of money out there right now in the form of Tax Credits and Stimulus money to help us with weatherization and energy efficiency. Many of the projects that you need to take on can qualify but you’ll have to ask around because some of the programs vary from State to State. But don’t delay, there’s limited time and money.

Remember when your Mom used to tell you to zip your coat and don’t walk out that door without a hat on your head? That’s exactly what you need to do to your home right now. You’re running out of time because ready or not here comes Old Man Winter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Keep Your Eye on The Prize

I spend a lot of time talking with people about the tangled web that is Renovation, building, design, investing, real estate and business. Usually, especially with homeowners, I take the conservative road and discuss wants versus needs, resale value versus lifestyle, even master plan versus piecemeal.

Today though, the thing that I chose to take from a somewhat painful conversation was the reminder to keep your eye on the prize. Be uncompromising in the achievement of your goals. Now I’m not advocating the reckless pursuit of senseless waste or the wanton abandonment of common sense. Instead, I’m referring specifically to your project objectives.

Why did you start the project in the first place? When you first sat down with your Architect to talk about what you wanted to achieve through this project and why, what were your goals? Before you started talking with your Architect and Builder about real costs and maybe budget versus reality, what was the end game?

In many cases, our budgets don’t quite align with the reality of what our dreams really cost. Often we make design changes and reductions; we talk about “big ticket items” and “bang for your buck.” At some point in time some spinster erroneously dubbed this activity “value engineering.” It’s all part of the design and building process.

As you enter this phase of the process though, remember the key things that made this project worth it to you. Hold onto the essence that first excited you … and don’t let that go. On the flip side, consciously decide what you are willing to compromise on. It may mean that you have to increase your budget. It may even mean that you have to delay the project until next year. You may have to give some things up. But in the end, keep your eye on the prize and don’t give that up.