Remodeling and Downsizing

It’s been two weeks since my past post. A lot has been going on. A big part has been preparing our large family home to sell. We are spending more time in our condo now. Condo living is a definite lifestyle downsize, from 4500 square feet on three levels (with a yard to maintain) to 1500 square feet on one level.

Two weeks ago we launched what will be likely be the most expensive and comprehensive remodeling project – our master bathroom. I am painfully aware that our actual return on this “prepare to downsize” cost will be less than 100%. However, our master bath was so dated that it was likely to cause potential buyers to turn around and walk out of the house without further consideration. Moreover, our shower was constantly leaking into the lower level and I was tired of trying to stop those leaks. It was time to gut the bathroom and start over.

We brought in a remodeling expert with design expertise and a Realtor on staff. We told his team that we wanted a complete bathroom makeover but with two stipulations: (1) the design and decor had to appeal to a large percentage of potential buyers when we sell in a year or two; and (2) the level of finishes should be consistent with homes in our price range but without over-the-top luxury.

Clearly, our Jacuzzi tub had to go. In its place will be a smaller soaker tub and an expanded shower. The corner linen closet is also gone because it occupied too much space. In its place will be a floor to ceiling linen cabinet built-in along the wall with the double vanity sinks. The carpeting is being replaced by travertine tile. The cultured marble vanity tops will now be granite.

To select the contractor, we interviewed three and obtained two fixed-price proposals. The third proposal was for a cost-plus job. That is the proposal we selected, for several reasons. First, this remodeling contractor has been around 30 years with a significant positive track record. Second, he had a larger staff available to help us make appropriate selections of materials. Third, his internal cost estimates (one by the owner, one by his designer) were in-between the two fixed-price proposals we received. This will end up being a $25k-$30k project.

The work is progressing rapidly. I was shocked at how quickly Mrs. P and I were able to select the new fixtures, tile, and cabinets, with the expert assistance of the contractor and his suppliers.

Sadly, the beautiful custom solid cherry cabinets and tub skirting are gone. However, we will try to reuse the vanity cabinets at our lake house.

Although this is expensive, we will end up with a master bath that will not scare-off buyers. At least we will get to enjoy the new bathroom for a year or two ourselves before selling.

After the dust settles (and our bank account recovers!) from this bathroom remodel-to-downsize project, the next project will probably be the kitchen. We will not do a complete kitchen make-over. Instead, we will refinish the existing cabinets and replace the solid-surface counter-tops with granite. We may need to update the appliances.

Are any of you preparing your home to sell so that you can downsize?

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