Things to Avoid While Remodeling a House

wood island with custom cabinetsWho doesn’t love a good house remodeling project? Not the actual work of course. That’s hard, dirty, and time-consuming work. Very few people enjoy that. You probably don’t, which is why you need to hire professionals like Coachella Valley Construction to do all the hard stuff. But as far as the end result is concerned, getting your house remodeled is always welcome and a good experience. However, there are a few important stuff that you need to avoid while remodeling a house, to ensure that the end result will be satisfying.

For starters: dumb concrete countertops.

You know, I totally fell into this fad. This is I remodel this in five 05, 06. Concrete was kind of the cool thing and I totally fell into it. I talked my wife into it. It’s been terrible. We’ve hated it, frankly. Now concrete, incredibly porous, and that’s its downfall. You can put the most bomber, most expensive sealer on it. It’s always going to break down.

And if you look here, this is where we do our cutting board work. No matter how much I’ve sealed it over the years, it always needs resealed. Who wants a countertop that you need to reseal every six months or a year? I find that really dumb, especially for a family. I know some people like the Petina. I am not into it. My wife hates it. Next house, my real rebuild. We’re going to be using a quartz countertop, a SESAR stone, probably maybe a milestone that makes him incredibly beautiful countertops that are thoroughly impervious so that when you take that sponge into a wipe down, that countertop looks brand new.

And this one, no matter how much you wipe it down, good, smart cabinets. These cabinets have been great. I use real plywood cabinets, real plywood boxes. I used good hardware. And you know what? I haven’t had to refinish these. That although not perfect, they don’t look like the day I moved in. But if I go to sell this house, it’d be really easy to touch these up. And they’re ready to go for the next homeowner for the next 20 years.

Next: dumb appliances.

This is a hard one, right? Because most of America, we buy these kind of stainless steel, mid priced appliances. I think I spent maybe ten thousand dollars on this house for all of my appliances, maybe not even quite that much. And I got kind of a middle, middle, upper brand. Don’t surmise I’m going to try and block this out so you don’t see what I’ve used here. But you know what? I’ve had to cook tops.

I’ve had two refrigerators. The oven micro is the original, but that’s it. And my washer and dryer been probably fixed four or five times. And this is my second dishwasher. It’s a hard thing on appliances, right, because we don’t have tons of money to spend, like my in-laws, for instance, they were able to afford a Sub-Zero in the eighties on their kitchen remodel. But that’s Sub-Zero is the same one that’s in their house.

Thirty five years later, they have replaced the compressor, once on the refrigerator and once on the freezer.

But over the course of thirty five years, one replacement on a compressor, that’s pretty good and it still has value.

There’s something to be said there. We’ll see if this dishwasher lasts. This is Amela, which is a German brand. It was a lot more expensive than the lower priced model I had in here when I originally built it, which died on me.

But so far it’s been really good. I’ve got water softener in there. There’s actually a place where you can pour salts and they’re smart about that because now that water softener means that all the seals are not going to break down of the hard water. That’s a hard one, though. I realize that a lot of the houses I build, my clients have the budget to put a lot more in appliances than sixty five hundred dollars or whatever. Most Americans are spending on their appliances.

Forgetting Long Term Durability

I just wish that we weren’t so focused on Energy Star labels and we were more focused on long term durability. And could I buy an appliance that would still be working and would be repairable 20, 30 plus years later?

Smart Hardware now used a bunch of hardware in this house that I spent some money on and it has really held up. This corner back here is usually a dead corner that most of the time we’ll use a lazy Susan from that rolling corner piece. But check this out. This is from hateful. They call it a magic corner. Some German ingenuity right there.

Look at that. You’ve got full access to everything back there. And it’s still almost fifteen years later glides perfectly. You can hide everything in the corner. Nice and smooth operation. That sweet magic corner aptly named by Avila.

Dumb switches and lights

I’ve got a bunch of these fancy switch plates. I got kind of snowed by the rep for this company that was like, Oh, I’ll give you 30 percent off and designed all these fancy ones with some fancy plates. I spent a bunch of money thinking, oh, it’s thirty percent off giving me this discount for my personal house thoroughly.

I should have just put regular white decor, rocker switches and maybe a screw loose played.

I do like screws plates but I could have saved thousands of dollars and most of these I’ve ended up replacing because when I built this house in my defense, I was trying to be really cautious about electrical use. I put a lot of compact fluorescent fixtures in which, as you all know, are gone these days. And when you upgrade to led to a bunch of these switches, do not work with the newer LEDs. So this is one bank of switches.

I haven’t replaced that because I’ve kept my original halogen lights in the kitchen. But in other places I’ve switched out to some hailu where I had original Hailo cans in, and it was really easy to pull that trim and that bulb out and change that with an altered like my my front door, my outdoor lights, my hallway. And those have been fantastic. That’s what I’ll be doing on the new house. Smart hidden door.

You know, I love my hidden doors in my clients houses. I had to do one at this house. Now, this isn’t original to the house. This originally was actually my home office. My company was based in this room in twenty six and I moved in here. We turned it into a kid’s bedroom when I had an extra baby born. And then now it’s actually my kind of home school room for my kiddos. And I think in twenty fifteen we did this.

Check that out. This was just a recess and the wall and my carpenters did a fantastic job. We’ve got a Rixon pivot door here. This door is just a slab Stav corridor. We added some Container Store shelving in there and then to dress it up I did some exposed Russian birch plywood. I really like that exposed edge in this room has functioned really well for us.

Besides that hardware, which, by the way, this touch latch in here that you push and has ten pounds of throw, that’s a great piece.

There are books that I’m not at every day. But isn’t that nice that if you wanted to book, you could just lift that up and see what you’ve got in one spot? My guys made these cabinets basically in the driveway. And again, I use that exposed ply. And man, this has been super durable with a Formica countertop on there.

Anything that happens, we can wipe it right off. This has been a terrific room. And again, the hardware is awesome. One thing I do want to mention, I just saw this. I’ve got a son who’s a lot like his dad. He’s a real entrepreneur. He’s got a power washing business. He’s got a trash service. Will it take the neighbor’s trash cans out and return them after the trash cans come and he’s got a lawn mowing service?

I did all those things as a kid. Plus I threw papers and look at his wish list. Totally cracked me up. I hope you don’t mind me. We will show in the world of of what you’re trying to buy this summer, he got a new fishing boat from his grandpa that was under the deck for 20 years, this little small John boat, and he saved up the money to buy a rolling motor for it. Anyway, it’s good stuff.

Dumb vinyl windows.

When I remodeled my house almost 15 years ago, there weren’t many options besides vinyl and wood when you really wanted a custom size down to, let’s say, eight inch. And I couldn’t afford the fiberglass window that I wanted to, let alone they didn’t customize back then. So I did a bunch of these vinyl. I do not like them. And this is one reason why I don’t recommend them because I’ve lived with them. Here’s the issue, especially in a desert city the windows of mine on the front of the house that were bigger sizes, they would actually warp and move and change.

So much so that in my daughter’s bedroom, which is a pretty big single hung window, I couldn’t get the lock to always work because the vinyl kind of boat with the heat now ended up replacing almost all the windows in the front of my house with Marvin Integrity, which now they’ve changed their name. I think it’s more of an essential line, but that’s a fiberglass window. They’ve taken the heat. No problem. Now, the customized down to the tail end for you, a much better window for not a whole lot more money.

These were a bargain basement price.

And you know what I’ve got when I paid for here smart fiberglass windows, I spent a little bit more for these. And funny enough, I actually did a video on this several years ago. So you can go back and see how I replace these in my brick opening. But I went from single Hung’s here to Casement’s and that’s a great upgrade. Now I’ve got a nice big piece of glass, no dividers. It really kind of modernize this single story ranch house of mine, more efficient, but especially more airtight.

When you get a casement and you lock it down, you’re locking against the bulb seal. Whereas if you have a single or a double hunk, it usually has a brush seal and you’re moving against that brush seal. So it’s naturally not as tight as a window.

Dumb plumbing.

I really went kind of bargain on my plumbing to make my budget. And these fixtures are what I would consider like production builder or spec house fixtures. They worked fine for the first three, four years and then I started having problems. And in fact, these are a replacement of those when I don’t know, maybe ten years ago I replace them.

And these are dumb. I made the same mistake again. Can you believe it? From ten years ago?

Plumbing’s a big deal, guys. Plumbing is going to last a long time. You’re going to use it. It’s going to have a ton evacuation’s. You have cartridges in there at my house. I have hard water and my wife doesn’t want a water softener. So as a result, my plumbing fixtures have been a mess because I used kind of bargain basement price fixtures. Had I use better fixtures, No one, I would have been able to get parts much easier and I wouldn’t have had problems.

Here’s an example right now. This actually went bad on me last week.

The cartridge in here, which is my diverter between my shower heads of two showerheads in here, stopped working and I couldn’t get my shower to turn on. I had to get the plumber in here. We kind of got it rig. I left the handle off so no one would move it. And I’ve got to try and get the part that I need. I really should have gotten smarter on this. Concrete countertops in my bath actually have done just fine. I mean, this section right here looks like the day I installed them fifteen years ago. I think it’s because I don’t have lemon juice or acids or things like that. The toothpaste will wipe off here just fine. The other thing I did in here was I did just a real basic China sink.

These have been fine. I’ve had no problems with that. Now, here’s an interesting thing.

Like concrete being fatty, this is a little bit faddish at the time. This is a PLI do I think is the brand name. It’s a plywood made from bamboo and I’ve always like that exposed edge. So I did my bath vanity’s in here in my kids bath and I did this awesome medicine cabinet and applied to.

And this has been so terrible in my kids bath I made when they were younger and now they’re older. But when they were younger, I made a stepstool, a lot of plywood and they would bang that against this ply the day after day. And you know what? Fifteen years later, it still looks like the day I installed it. You can’t see any dents or dings. Very interesting. All right. Now, here’s something that I’ve also learned in time.

I’ve got a standard mud set shower. This is a fairly porous natural material. This is travertine. But because it’s a mud set and the travertine is porous, I’ve got this real thick kind of porous base in my shower. It never dries.

And it’s really hard to get the mold out of the cracks in the corner. I’m going to be doing a SCHLUTER system in my new house, which is kind of a it’s hard to explain in a short method, but basically it’s a dimple mat type material that doesn’t have this thick base underneath it to stay wet. And I’m going to use a tile that’s not porous, so my shower is going to stay clean or it’s not going to have the mold.

It’s funny how much you learn when your remodel. Isn’t it smart?

The one thing I did right in my house, plumbing was this kolar kitchen sink, stainless steel, single bowl. Don’t tell anybody. Colar actually gave this to me as a freebie. It was awesome. But I chipped out and put a crappy faucet in that I had to promptly replace. Now, I did replace it with a color, though. And check this out.

They have this really cool feature that when it’s on, just wave your hand right here and it turns it off. Pretty awesome feature now that we’re washing our hands 13 times during the course of the day. And I showed you this earlier, my cycle finished. Look at that. This automatically pushes out. Let’s all that steam out and it ends up being very, very dry dishes out like this a lot.

And the last smart feature I want to mention, my house, my hardwood floors, you know, this section of hardwood floors between my kitchen sink and my fridge. I think about how many times I’ve walked across this in the last 14, 15 years. It’s got to be thousands, multiple, thousands of times.

These are true three quarter thick hardwoods. I’ve had two dogs now in this house. I’ve had four kids in this house. And yet when I went on vacation three years ago, I had to do is do a quick sand and finish. And these floors look brand new. Again, that’s the ultimate sustainable floor. Three quarter thick hardwood.

I’ve seen it once in 15 years and refinished them. I changed the color. I changed the finish. That is an ultimate smart feature.

Dumb HVAC system

You want to remodel this in 05, 06, the furnace that was in here, the air conditioner had just been replaced the year prior and I hesitated to replace it. I also hesitated to insulate in a different way to bring the insulation to the roof line. As a result, this has been fine. But I kind to say my energy bills and my comfort have gone way higher than I would have liked.

I typically spend in the summertime two hundred plus maybe two hundred and fifty dollars in electricity for this house. Plus I’ve got a gas furnace, I’ve got gas, hot water, a gas dryer, which means I’m using a ton of electricity. This is not a very efficient house and it wasn’t very comfortable when I first moved in either. I had to add a dehumidifier to the house. Now, if you’ve been watching my videos, you know that I’m a big fan of dehumidification. A dehumidifier is one of the things to consider to get a well built house.

So I’m always checking my humidity in my house. So I just have this separate hygrometer. I’ll put a link to this like ten bucks on Amazon. I love this. And I added, I’ll show you in a second an ultra air dehumidifier to my attic. Huge difference in comfort. And I also, since I moved in, realize that my daughter is asthmatic. This thing just has a pleated one inch filter. But this over here is giving me some extra filtration.

Now, I only typically run it at night. I’ve got a hallway return right down there on the bottom. And this guy, this field controls trio, has basically just a big pleated filter in there and is getting me kind of near HEPA quality filtration, but only air that goes through it is getting filtered.

So I run it all night long. I’m trying to run it like twelve hours a day, let’s say, and it’s giving me some extra filtration before the air gets sucked into the furnace and gets distributed through my house. But let’s end the video up in the attic. All right. So my attic, this is probably my biggest disappointment in my twenty six. Matt Reisinger, you know, I left this attic traditionally insulated at the floor level, which means I’m in a vented roof cavity here.

What a bummer. I should have changed this at the time. It was hard to do because I’ve got an attached garage. I would have had to separate the attic space from the garage space. I would have had to use some type of spray foam at the roofline, let’s say.

But all of these ducts up here in the attic, man, that’s a huge disappointment to me. These these ducts are great ducts, let’s say. But this attic easily gets to one hundred and twenty plus degrees. One hundred and thirty degrees maybe on a typical summer day, which means I’ve got fifty five degree air running through these little thin, insulated ducts with almost one hundred degree delta. That’s super inefficient. And that’s part of why my bills are so expensive.

Now, I went back and did Insulation 2.0 up here in the attic where I added some baffles. I made a video on that, a read blue. I made sure that I could er seal as best as possible between my conditions based on my unconditioned space. And then back here on this pop out, I’ve got in my family room where I had bad insulation, I pulled that out and I use clothes l spray foam to help increase the efficiency. But ultimately the way that I insulated this and having this duct work up in this hot. A super inefficient that’s my one disappointment.

And that about sums up the list of the pitfalls you need to avoid while remodeling a house. There are more, but they’re probably not as common as what we’ve outlined above. Your general contractor will likely address them before they become a problem. As long as you get a good contractor, that is.