And away we go!  LakewoodAlive’s 2019 “Knowing Your Home” series got off to a strong start on March 7, as 45 attendees gathered at The Bottlehouse Brewery Lakewood to hear an Opening Night panel discussion addressing the process for undertaking major home improvement projects.

Panelists Bill Gaydos (William J. Gaydos & Associates, LLC), Chuck McGettrick (Architects C.A. McGettrick, Inc.), Dana Paul (Prairie Stone), Chris Parmelee (City of Lakewood) and Avi Selva (Cleveland Lumber Company) shared their expertise with the assembly of homeowners, while LakewoodAlive Executive Director Ian Andrews served as moderator.  Ultimately, their collective goal involved equipping attendees with the knowledge and confidence necessary to tackle larger projects.

Now in its sixth year, LakewoodAlive’s “Knowing Your Home” workshop series draws hundreds of attendees annually to learn home maintenance best practices.  Our workshop series is generously supported by: Citizens Bank, City of Lakewood, Cleveland Lumber Company and First Federal Lakewood.

If you happened to miss this particular workshop, we’ve got you covered.  Here are six key takeaways from “Knowing Your Home: Creating a Sound Investment.”

1. Start with ensuring structural soundness.

You may have grand plans for your home, but before you pursue them it’s paramount to ensure you have a strong foundation on which to build.  Before making substantial changes to your home, make sure your house envelope is structurally sound.  This means ensuring that your house structure, roof and siding are all in good repair.

2. Determine a budget and stick to it.

Before commencing your major home improvement project, know how much you wish to spend – then don’t let yourself exceed that figure.  As you begin to explore your home improvement goals, it’s easy to be tempted to expand the scope, yet you owe it to yourself to complete your project within your means.  Make your budget a binding agreement you’ve made with yourself.  Consider performing some of the labor yourself to save money and avoid paying with credit if possible.  Additionally, it’s advisable to add a contingency plan to your budget.  Expect that there will be some cost overrun, and set aside a minimum of 10 percent of your total budget to protect yourself should an overrun occur.

LakewoodAlive's "Creating a Sound Investment" workshop
A panel of industry professionals shared their expertise during “Knowing Your Home: Creating a Sound Investment.”

3. Have realistic expectations.

When it comes to large-scale home improvement projects, you stand a much better chance of coming away satisfied if you understand the specifics and limitations of your project up front.  This means developing realistic expectations with regards to your project’s budget, timeline and long-term outlook.  A good contractor will be able to keep your project moving, keeping your vision on track.  Keep in mind that most major projects will experience at least one minor speedbump on the road to a successful completion.

4. Write a list of what you want.

Make a list and check it twice.  Create a “wants vs. needs” list – this will help you stick to your budget and get the project result you desire.  By employing this strategy, you can better hold your contractor responsible for ensuring the final product meets your expectations.  In the end you’ll enjoy a project result that fulfills all of your needs and if extra budget remains, then you can pursue a few extra bells and whistles.

5. Know the trends

Something has value when it’s perceived to have future benefits.  Current trends in the local home improvement market include master suite additions, updated bathrooms and new garages.  Many homeowners wish to preserve the historic qualities of their homes, necessitating that new additions be completed seamlessly.

6. An architect can help you understand the possibility of a project.

A successful home improvement project typically requires a strong relationship between architect and homeowner.  Your architect can help you analyze the full scope of your project, enabling you to better determine the range of requirements and choices at your disposal.  Ultimately, your architect will help you truly define your project and guide the design.  Finding the right architect, then bringing that expert into your project early, should pay dividends throughout the course of your project.