10 Helpful Home Renovation Tips From A Pro Who Been There

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We are all attracted to novelty, it is human nature. The shiny and the new all present opportunities for innovation, growth, and progress on the way forward. Of course, change is not without its challenges, and when design experts hand out home improvement advice, they’re quick to express caution. But Jamie Haller, interior designer and founder of Jamie Haller Shoes, knows how to avoid the biggest and most common pitfalls of a repairman’s renovation.

Today, she walks us through the ins and outs of remodeling and flipping, all through the lens of one of her recent projects: a beautiful Los Angeles Koreatown Craftsman remodel. His main advice: “Be discerning about the characteristics of a house that you cannot change.” When asked to share renovation red flags to watch out for, she pointed out that while “poor foundations and cracks in the wall” don’t phase her (in fact, she sees them as an opportunity !), it is the physical details of location, community and environment that call for thoughtful consideration.

Image featured by Belathee Photography.

But first, if you’ve never changed homes before and are looking to enter a booming market, Haller recommends taking some time to think things through and consider whether this is a good option for you. . “I actually see flips as a red flag. But for every good pinball machine there are 10 terrible ones and the work I see done most of the time is generally shoddy, tasteless and sometimes dangerous.

Some key things to consider before deciding whether or not to return:

  • Check permit history during escrow. “This is readily available information and it would be a telltale sign or red flag if the job was done the right way or the wrong way,” says Haller.
  • Hire a good agent. Ask around – it may take a while to get in touch with the right agent, but the effort you put in beforehand will pay off. Haller emphasizes, “Be considerate of the people you work with. It matters.”
  • Find the character. “Look for inherent charm,” says Haller. By this, she means the original windows, moldings and floors. Once you find character, she concludes, you’re on your way to a good flip.

Let’s dive deeper into the red flags to watch out for. What questions should owners ask themselves before buying a repairer?

Haller shares a long list of questions any future owner would be wise to ask when buying, whether it’s a repairer or otherwise.

  • How far is it from the street?
  • What are the views out the window like?
  • Are there trees? Can you plant some?
  • How busy is the street?
  • Are you near something unhealthy or dangerous like a highway?
  • Are you too close to a shopping area or gas station?

“These are the things that will cap your mind and there’s nothing you can do about it. They will also limit the financial benefits of your project,” Haller notes.

On the other hand, once you’ve considered all of the potential red flags, remember this truth: “You can change anything in a house if you want to,” says Haller. Foundations are fixable problems, she adds wisely. Of course, there will likely be additional expense and time for your project, but seeing the potential and knowing that the challenge can be solved will likely work to your advantage.

When it comes to home improvement advice, what projects and tasks should you prioritize?

It might come as a surprise (it was for this writer), but Haller advises approaching your renovation from the inside out, starting with the structural elements of the home. Foundation, frame, then rough plumbing and electricity, roof, doors and windows. Last but not least, she says to tackle the finishing work (painting of tiles, cabinetry) at the end of your renovation.

Haller notes that many people go into a project wanting to see where they’re spending their money, but that can lead you astray. “I know a lot of people want to immediately update their bathrooms and kitchens without addressing the structural issues that exist in a home. However, your big investment is at risk if the structure of the house is not solid,” she warns.

The easiest (well, easiest) way to achieve this? Prioritize good inspections with people you trust. This is one of the hardest parts of any renovation, says Haller: “Finding good partners that you can trust.”

So we have the structure of the safe house. How do you approach your design plan?

Haller lets emotion lead the way, wondering the following:

  • What do I want to feel in this room?
  • Where is the gravity in the room?
  • Is it going to come from a color or an element of the room?
  • Where will I fall in love in this house?

The process of thinking and answering these questions provides you with a solid framework to begin with. From there, Haller will remove anything that she feels doesn’t support that view. “If I’m working with a Craftsman house and there’s built-ins and ’80s carpeting, I rip it out. If there’s textured ’60s ceilings, I scrape them.

It’s one of her favorite parts of the renovation process, as inspiration abounds beneath the old floors and opportunities can be found around every turn. and opportunities abound under old floors or behind any door. “I go back to 0 and have an idea of ​​who the house was before I added it.”

We love this process and approach to a project! But if you had to identify one tip that can transform a renovation or a turnaround, what would it be?

As with most things in life, you reap the most rewards when you approach anything with patience. “Take the time to think about it and have a plan,” advises Haller. If you can, she says it’s best to work with an architect, draftsman or designer. And – although she hates to add that – she cautions against making choices based on what your contractor shows you.

A key distinction: “Entrepreneurs are not designers,” says Haller. “Do your own research and find your own materials or hire someone to help you.”

When you approach anything with patience, you give yourself the added benefit of having time to research. This, says Haller, is the key. “Bad choices that hide other bad choices are not a good solution. I would suggest saving some money and hiring someone to help you. It is important to be thoughtful, even on a budget.

What are your favorite ways to create maximum impact while keeping costs low?

Of course, staying on budget is the goal and falling below is the dream. Haller’s favorite ways to get there? She shares her secrets on areas of focus that can create the biggest upgrade at the lowest cost.

  • Painting is #1. An entire home can change with a strong paint palette.
  • New flooring. There are good options at all price points and bad soil sets the tone for everything.
  • Sanitary and hardware. These can change and be exchanged easily.
  • Curtains and lighting. Both are easy ways to completely transform a room. Custom draperies are beautiful, but some very nice draperies can also be found on the shelf.
  • Opt for wallpaper. Wallpaper is one of my favorite processing materials. It offers emotion and inspiration and rises quickly. It is not so expensive to buy, and if you want, you can do it yourself. Wallpaper in combination with new paint is a HUGE transformation.

With good taste and a good eye, says Haller, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. “Many of the lights in my house were something I found at a reuse or salvage sale for $10 and loved them.”

Once you’ve budgeted, what’s your favorite way to save time on a project?

Haller is all about the mini makeover. Reflected in her listing above, she praises the wallpaper, paint and lights for their transformational effect. “If you’re not working with a designer, do some research to choose colors that work. Try a lot of options, putting two colors on one wall to choose from won’t work. I often put 10 options on a wall.

What are your favorite sources of affordable home improvement and decorating materials?

Haller eschews the big-box home improvement stores and instead finds more inspiration at local tile stores. “If you need to buy electrical tape, light bulbs and HVAC filters, by all means go there.” But, she says, smaller, more specialized stores can be more helpful. “They are experts. They have options at all price points and are usually very happy to help you find a story for your home. »

Keep small businesses going, Haller points out.

Below, Haller details more of her favorites.

  • Etsy. It is filled with creators. You can buy beautiful lamps as well as authentic vintage ones.
  • old good things and Pasadena Architectural Recovery. I LOVE an architectural recovery. I buy windows and doors here, lights and hardware. Most cities have one.
  • Habitat for Humanity. I’ve bought a lot of these from second-hand construction stores. You have to be lucky, but the hunt is fun.
  • Lagoon Village Tile, heather tileand Arto Brick. Many fine tile brands have outlets where they sell second grade. Follow your favorite suppliers on Instagram and pay attention to what they offer.

What projects would you give homeowners the green light for DIY?

“I think it all comes down to your ability to overlook any mistakes you might make,” Haller says. She suggests sitting down and thinking about what you value more: the time, the money saved, or an end result that looks good and you know was done right. From there, you can decide what is and is not worth the effort.

She illustrates this further: “Sometimes time is more precious. The truth is you can do anything, you just have to learn it.

YouTube is one of its go-to resources, but be aware that it may lead you astray. “I changed lights and outlets while watching YouTube videos,” admits Haller. “I also electrocuted myself doing it.”

Below, Haller shares his cheat sheet for what should be left to the pros:

  • Anything involving gas or electrical work.
  • Stripping paint and wood.
  • Height.
  • Drywall mud. (Don’t kill yourself, it’s hard!)
  • Demo. TV shows make it look like fun to swing a hammer into a wall, but the demonstration is hard, dirty work.

But even when you leave a project in the hands of professionals, Haller can’t stress it enough: “No one will care as much as you do. Stay engaged in the process, observe the work in progress and ask questions. »

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