What You Can Learn From Home Makeover Shows

March 10, 2010

While leveling your home in order to create your dream home may seem a bit extreme, millions of Americans each week tune in to many of the home makeover reality TV shows in hopes of finding that perfect idea or unique architectural layout in order to begin the designs and plans of their new home. Before and after photos and video can provide instant motivation for homeowners who are looking to work with builders to create one-of-a-kind bathrooms, kitchens, or entire floors.

Shows like HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” also provide ideas on how to craft the exterior appeal of your new home, in order to increase the property’s value for future resale as well. However, there are some good lessons to be learned from these shows, and they aren’t as simple as deciding what rooms need dormer windows or buying a new vanity on sale at your local hardware store and handling the installation yourself after your builder has completed the framework. Here are a few takeaways that these shows don’t share:

Building your new home requires planning. Beautiful pictures and a remodel of a bathroom in an hour-long TV show may look simple, but what you see on TV and the reality of building that gorgeous bathroom are much different. Unless you have a motivated crew and a flexible schedule, don’t expect such rapid and smooth progress.

Size does matter. If you’re looking to build a larger home on your existing lot, think what that larger home will look like aesthetically within your existing neighborhood. Also consider your home’s resale value. Will a larger home be harder to sell in the future if it’s in a neighborhood with homes of less value? Perhaps having a larger home isn’t as important as having a new home, with up-to-date features and framework.

Tips and tricks from home makeover shows are great for smaller projects, but if you’re truly looking for an extreme makeover, stop and look at the big picture of what you want, build a plan that works, and decide how your ideas will affect a future resale. Then collaborate with your builders and designers to create your dream home.

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How to Start Designing Your Dream Home

February 3, 2010

We all have visions of our dream home. Maybe you’re watching a home makeover on television and think, “I want that!” or you visit a friend’s home and are impressed by a renovation. Or perhaps you’re tired of having your laundry room in the basement and swear “never again” every time you lug another load of clothes up another flight of stairs.

Having a dream and realizing it are two, very different things. Before you talk to a builder or architect, here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:

  1. Build a Vision Book. You probably know what you want—and what you don’t. Start a notebook and write down your likes and dislikes. Clip out photos and ideas from magazines, print from the Web, or take photos yourself. Circle architectural details you like, such as windows, doors, trim, entryways, flooring, built-ins, porches, decks, etc.
  2. Determine the size. Figure out the rooms you want and need, the size of each, and how many levels. Do you want a great room with cathedral ceilings? Are you planning on an owner’s suite? Will you have an eat-in kitchen? Do you need a three-car garage? Do the math and this will give you a rough estimation of the total square footage.
  3. Decide on a home style. Do you have a fondness for a traditional cape, a classic Colonial, a rustic post-and-beam, farmhouse, Tudor, or a contemporary home? Are you leaning toward single-floor living? You can find sample home designs and floor plans online and in magazines. Take the time to browse your choices. Drive around and take photos of homes you like. Put these in your Vision Book.
  4. Consider your homesite. If you already own your homesite, consider the type of home that will work best there, Think about how you will situate your home on the building lot. How will you utilize the best features of this land?

Build your Vision Book and then share it with the architects and builders you’re considering. They can help you determine some ballpark costs and advise you how to make adjustments for cost savings, energy efficiency, durability, and comfort. Even if you’re not quite ready to take the next step, start a Vision Book. There’s no price for dreaming!