Over the weekend I found myself watching Love it or List it on HGTV: Basement Master Santuary

The homeowners were wanting to redo the entrance of their home and a completely dilapidated basement (that needed a lot of help.) One thing that I greatly appreciated about this episode was that the budget ran out. Despite the fact that the homeowners were getting free interior design and labor at the end of the day it was not enough to get everything they wanted. Sometimes homeowners have really lofty dreams about what they want to accomplish, but not necessarily the budget to make it happen….and then they get really upset at the professionals because we just can’t do it all.

As I watched the show I blurted out, “This basement is easily a $50K remodel and they haven’t even gotten to the entrance!”. Well sure enough, towards the end of the show the designer tells the homeowners they just don’t have enough to do the entrance. I was shocked. Usually for TV the producers will make it happen, but not this time. The basement ended up costing $45K in renovations and the majority of those dollars went to things you can’t see. That is a big lesson for homeowners, especially when you live in an older home. I’ve been in this business for sixteen years and I have yet to be on a remodel that doesn’t have something “pop” up.

In the case of this home, the floor joists were built 24″ apart. I’ve never seen this, ever! Floor joists are always built 16″ apart and at most 18″. In addition to having a structure not up to code, the entire middle of the home was unsupported…and the floor rotting. How the homeowners didn’t fall through is a miracle, but it is often those unforeseen things, the unsexy things of a home that cost the most and are the most deflating for a homeowner. When you have $45K to spend you think half will go to decorative products. Unfortunately the design budget is the first to go when the shit hits the fan.

The basement walls, floor joists, and structural points were all done incorrectly….and while the designer did a great job with what she was given, she is often blamed for not coming through with flying colors. I see this a lot with clients. They get upset when those unsexy things appear and throw their budget out of whack. SO what’s the lesson here? If you are about to embark on a massive remodel keep in mind that there are always unforeseen hiccups, always. If you have followed this blog and the many remodels I have done, you know that every job has had a hiccup or three. If you have X amount of dollars to spend and that is exactly how much the remodel is going to cost, wait. Save more money for those unforeseen “oh shit” moments. It’s better to be prepared than surprised and upset.

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