WHEN A CONTRACTOR IS HIS OWN CLIENT

contractor client-diningAfter recently completing a major renovation on my own house, I thought it might be helpful for homeowners to see how an actual contractor approaches his own long term renovation planning to meet his family’s changing requirements over time.

Everyone’s needs & preferences will be different, of course, but the key to success is anticipating what your family will need and then planning accordingly. And remember, think long-term-process rather than quick-fix.

For Starters

When we purchased our home about sixteen years ago, it was a modest three bedroom split-entry ranch on a beautiful lot in a great child safe neighborhood – perfect for our three young children and ready to move in.  At that point the contractor in me started thinking about the future because – best of all – this was my own blank canvas!

Before closing on the property, therefore, I had future renovations & expansion in mind so I made sure that zoning and septic would allow for us to grow as a family. The beginning of a ‘master plan’ if you will.

Moving Forward

The first priority was a family room.  The kids needed a space that would allow them to be safe, contractor client-dencreative and studious and, not unimportantly, my wife and I needed a place to watch the game.

I took time to consider a variety of options, and when I stepped back at project’s end I had created the perfect space by combing the existing undersized family room with the one car garage at the lower level.

Family rooms need to evolve with the changing needs of the family so I’ve made several minor renovations to this space over the years, and now that the kids are no longer kids, yes, it qualifies as a man cave.

The Next Step

My daughter had her own room, but as the two boys got older it became clear that each needed his own space. Sounds simple right? Just add on another bedroom. But don’t forget I’m a contractor, unlikely to settle for a small scale renovation when a more serious upgrade provides the best long term solution.

contractor client-exteriorFive years after turning my one car garage into part of the family room, therefore, it was time for a two car garage with a master bedroom suite above, complete with a sitting area, walk-in closet and huge bathroom.

While the new master bedroom was great, what my wife really wanted was an exercise room which, of course, she got. Building another addition in the front of the house enabled me to enlarge the two boy’s bedrooms and add a farmer’s porch to complete the facade of what was no longer a split-entry ranch.

The Latest Phase

Remember my master plan? You might have noticed that I haven’t used that magic renovation word KITCHEN yet. Aside from the areas already discussed, the upstairs living space included a decent sized living room, an average dining room, and an average kitchen connected by the usual undersized doorways.

Through the years we made the best of our kitchen, dining room, et al, and had some great times & memories. But I’d been planning a new kitchen renovation in my mind and on paper for sixteen years, and now with college tuition done it was time.

contractor client-kitchen1I’ll bet at least some of this sounds familiar: the relationship of the dining room to the kitchen was ok-not-great. The living room was isolated and barely ever used, except for holiday meals when it became the dining room annex. Our typical family gathering involved a big crowd of people, most of whom invariably stood somewhere in the kitchen while we attempted to prepare the feast.

Not anymore. My goal was an open layout so I tore down all the interior walls and started from scratch – the dining room built-ins were all that remained. The new kitchen layout was a labor of love – and lots of planning. The large island allows for seating, as well as conversation, while cooking. A new look for the fireplace wall and a new front entry and open stairway complete the open layout.

Let’s face it, family requirements evolve, styles change, and people just don’t live the way they did 20 years ago. I think my formerly blank canvas is ready to be framed…but you never know. Remember, I’m a contractor and I build things.

contractor client-open2

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5 comments so far. Leave a comment.

  1. Jeffrey Rubin

    wrote on November 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    wow beautiful

  2. Marsha

    wrote on November 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Awesome article John!
    You are a very talented man!
    You work hard & are great at what you do.
    Now invite me over for dinner.

  3. Jonathan Buckley

    wrote on November 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

    It really is nice having a father who is so well organized as to anticipate all these changes. Especially the man cave! Thanks dad.

  4. Kenneth taylor

    wrote on November 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Great article John and great photos of the finished product.
    It pays off when you have the right contractors in putting it all together. Looks great!! Keep up the good work.

  5. Evan golini

    wrote on March 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Great article John!
    Good learning experience working On that addition with
    You and Pat !
    I still remember busting the bottom rung on your
    brand new extension ladder! Lol…oops

    – Evan Golini

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