When budgeting for a home improvement project, hiring an experienced designer or business will simply help you get it right the first time and save so much money in the end. Here’s how we want to avoid being penny-wise and pound-stupid with my mother’s conservatory project.
I cannot thank you enough for your so helpful contribution and comments on my mother’s conservatory project last week. Now we know what to do. I am so grateful!
What I didn’t mention last week was that my mother would also like to add a front entrance or at least a portico.
After reading all of your advice on what to do with your conservatory (thanks for helping us reconsider the options!), We became aware that doing both BOTH would do more than it did allows their budget. That is why we have adapted the winter garden plans.
Now we need your help working with the front entrance (photo below).
We first learned the following about solariums or conservatories:
You MUST have an adequate foundation (in other words, NOT what we have).
The whole jar is going to be a lot of maintenance and my mom is a clean freak so she goes crazy. The family of my mother and sister live close to a chicken farm and the crows pick up chicken parts and sit on their roof and eat them constantly finding beaks and feet on her deck (I know so gross) that would now end up on the glass roof instead.
If you keep to the planned dimensions of the existing deck as planned, the possibilities are completely limited. Many commentators said this is NOT a place to build because we inevitably want it to get bigger, and you are absolutely right.
Keeping the threshold the same as inside was also a really good point in terms of aging on the spot. Someone said her mother could no longer go to her winter garden because of the stairs.
Heat isn’t a big problem here on the west coast because it rains a lot, but when it’s sunny because my mother’s deck is facing west, it gets hot.
I cannot tell you how grateful we are for all of your generous advice.
A new home improvement project plan
What we have now decided is to remove the old deck, build a deck that is level with the inside, and make it bigger. We will then put a roof on it that is very similar to that on my house (below) to provide shade and protection.
Mine has plastic panels in front of the windows and then its metal where we don’t need the light.
My deck was there when we moved in, of course it could be fabulous, but as I said, my garden was a much higher priority. And it is very practical and we will use it so well in the warmer months. I exercise here all summer with my laptop and enjoy the view of the garden.
I think that’s what my mother really needs, a sheltered space to relax outdoors. At the moment it is like living in an apartment because its deck has no cover, because it is basically unusable.
My terrace | See the latest photos here
Okay, here is the front of my mother’s carriage house (below). This was taken right after it was built, but it is the best photo I have:
For those who are wondering, a coach house is technically a home with a garage and the living room on the second floor. We cheated a little and mom’s kitchen, seating area is on the first floor.
We chose a white siding because my sister’s house (bottom right) is white. Our valley is really so beautiful in summer.
When you enter this house there is literally no entrance. They are at the end of the stairs that lead to the second floor and there is no official wardrobe either. Her coats go into a closet that was technically identified as a “pantry” right behind her kitchen.
Because of the rain on the west coast, she can’t leave her shoes outside, but it is a challenge not to have a dirt room as the gravel gets into the house from the driveway.
A kind of portico is needed to soften the transition.
There are many options, starting with a cheaper portico that resembles this:
Advance to one with columns:
Here’s another idea that would include a pergola over the garage. But what we really need is someone with vision and someone who can create a drawing for the best solution that fits mom’s budget.
And if we do everything we can to get it right the first time, this kind of space for a mud room / entrance would be so great (see below).
Budgeting for home improvement projects
There are so many things to consider when starting a project like this. And often work makes up the lion’s share of the budget. My mother also believes that on both projects she would save money if she hired a carpenter to charge an hourly fee instead of offering her a package deal.
Her retirement assets have certainly dropped 30% (like the rest of us) and she is afraid that the world will go under and that she will never recover.
Have you ever been Penny Wise and Pound Foolish on your home improvement?
The bottom line, however, and I’ve learned this personally through experience and working with thousands of customers over the years, is that for most things in life, “you get what you pay for”.
Shouldn’t we pretty much say that this applies to EVERYTHING? I try to remember a situation where I actually got something amazing for a cheap basement price. It is extremely rare.
The most obvious way to lose money and become unhappy is to buy furniture or surfaces without a plan.
I recently helped a couple choose the colors for their renovation. They had already bought the subway tile before choosing anything else, and it turned out to be the wrong white for the countertop they wanted, so they had two options at that point. Scrap the non-refundable tile or choose plan B instead of plan A.
By the way, this mistake pretty much costs my fee, doesn’t it?
This is NOT the worst example since they called me BEFORE a number of other decisions were made.
That happens often. They choose everything, keep their fingers crossed, hope it works, and when everything is installed, call the decorator and hope that the right colors can fix your mistakes.
I really wanted to mention this here (to help my mother) because I would also love it if you posted comments at a time when you hired someone you thought would save you money and you instead costing hundreds or thousands later you had to fix the botched job done by the “cheap” labor force or the cheapest “job”.
I will never forget to speak to a painter who said that there are many ways to make a painting quote “cheaper”. For example, if you brush the siding with a roller without using a brush to get the sides. The paintwork may look complete, but it is definitely not. You get what you pay for.
The experienced designer or the experienced trade / company simply helps you get it right the first time and saves you so much money in the end. It is also best to choose a price at the beginning and not have the snowball. Or worse, languishing in an annoying, unfinished state because a part-time entrepreneur has committed on occasion.
Always create a home improvement plan
What is certain is that it makes the most sense to have a really well thought out plan at the start of a project. Therefore I would like to thank you in advance for your thoughts and insights. It will really help us examine all of the angles and help my mother get the most out of her budget.
And if you are someone with a vision that could help us make the best plan, maybe we could do something virtual? Send me an email here.
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