Would you like to renovate your home, but have no idea where or how to start? We have been following Shana Shivel @brickhousereno for the past month and the amazing progress she has made on her own home. And, she has tackled it all by herself from coordinating sub-contractors to choosing raw materials to moving load bearing walls and framing in new ones. We sat down with her to discover what it really takes to accomplish a whole house renovation and tips on tackling a renovation of your own.
Question and Answer Have you renovated many homes? Do you need a background in design or construction to renovate a home? I have renovated several homes in the area in the past 10 years including two of my own and a rental property. I do not have a background in construction but have worked in the design and creative services industry throughout my career. I started in marketing/advertising and migrated to graphic design and special events.
What are your best tips in acting as your own contractor?
My best tips are plan ahead as far as possible, expect that things will not go perfectly and get help from the experts when you need it!
What kind of time commitment is involved when you act as your own contractor?
The time commitment for acting as your own GC is very heavy. It is a full time job to plan the spaces, hire the contractors/subs, purchase materials and so on. I do think it is easier to utilize your favorite online shops to cut down on visiting store after store to find what you like. I do always try to order as many samples as possible too so you can avoid design mistakes later on.
If I want to start tackling my own renovation project, what is the best room in the house to start?
I think the best room to start is a master bedroom or even a laundry room. Start small with a space that you do not have to move electrical, plumbing to build confidence and experience.
How did you organize your whole house renovation? Where do you start to find sub-contractors?
I used spreadsheets to help organize my renovation. To find subs, I searched online groups on Facebook and asked friends and colleagues (that I trust) whom to use. Also, the tile shops and counter suppliers will sometimes refer subs to you. Ask for referrals and pictures of their work.
What is your favorite renovation project to date? (Project within a home)
My favorite one to date was my previous home’s kitchen remodel. I took an outdated, strange layout with two non load bearing columns and an unusable peninsula and made a very large island with room for plenty of seating, a microwave drawer and plenty of storage. We added a bench seat and a cased opening and it was perfect!
What is the biggest risk you have made with biggest reward/impact in renovation?
I think my biggest risk was using outdoor copper lanterns as my kitchen pendants. They were a huge investment and something I had not seen used indoors before but they made the biggest impact.
How do you choose your design elements? Do you look at magazines, Pinterest, Houzz….basically where does your inspiration come from?
I choose my design elements by researching Pinterest, visiting models of homes that I love, Instagram, Houzz and just browsing tile and fabric shops. I am a huge fan of taking something you love whether it be a piece of art, rug, fabric or architectural element and using that as inspiration.
Have you ever thought about helping other homeowners renovate their homes professionally?
I have and would love to do so!
What advice would you give someone that wants to renovate their own home? Pros/cons?
The advice I would give would be to not be constrained by your current layout if it bothers you. Start researching ideas and layouts/design elements that you love and fits your lifestyle and wishes. Also, sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest impact-paint, lights, new fabrics, even adding trim to a boring wall will make it more custom to your style. I would also say to do what you love. So many times we are afraid to use a color or design element (tile, etc…) because it is not the safe bet but in the end you have to love it and live in your home.
-stay in your current location
-build on your equity
-incorporate custom elements
-very time consuming
-difficult to manage alone
Thanks for all of the great tips, Shana! We can’t wait for you to inspire us even more with your finished details!
Do you think a house renovation is in your future?