Dealing with Surprises During Your Raleigh Home Remodel

Congrats! Your Raleigh fixer-upper is well on its way to be a fixed-upper now that you have a remodeling plan in place and a way to pay for it. You’re almost certainly imagining how lovely a soak in that new bathroom will be after a long day at work or how many family members you’ll be able to pack into your newly opened-up kitchen and dining area. The one thing you’re not thinking about right now is what could possibly go wrong.

That’s ok. We’re here to toss a little storm cloud over your remodeling plans, or at least bring you down to Earth a bit so you’re not blindsided by things you might have never thought to prepare for when redoing your home.

Surprise! Your Remodel Just Got Weird

When you chose your home, you knew it needed work. That wasn’t really a shocker, even as the list from the home inspector seemed to go on and on forever. But now that you’re about to dig in and tackle those projects, now is really the best time to prepare for as much as you can. The older your house, the more surprises you’ll likely find — time has a way of doing that to homes.

Houses constructed more than about 30 years ago were largely built to whatever code seemed fancy in the moment. It wasn’t until 1997 that the International Code Council published the first edition of the International Building Code, which has been updated and reissued every three years since. Before that, many homes were built professionally, but when it came time to remodel anything there were zero standards to hold anyone to. Basically you can kind of think of your home as a time capsule of the most terrifying variety.

Or, you know, it might be totally straightforward. There’s literally no way to know until you get started. So, are you ready?

A Few Surprises to Watch For

No matter how well you think you know your house, you should make sure you’ve got a respirator that can filter both lead paint and asbestos, as well as gloves and work clothing that will protect you from anything before you even think about getting started. These things aren’t a small investment, but if you want to do the work yourself, you need to protect yourself just like a pro would. There are so many things that can jump out and bite you during a remodel, this list contains a few of the most common:

Hidden metal, pipes and wiring. If you’re taking out walls or even taking out tiles with the hopes of replacing them with something more modern, you may discover that your wall interiors are a whole other world. Behind your kitchen’s wet wall, there’s a maze of pipes that snake around to nowhere. Your bathroom has random metal plates just stuck in the wall under some tiles. And, this wire… it goes nowhere. It should go without saying that you should always use tools that have non-conductive handles when you’re working in walls and behind objects that you can’t see through.

Surprise mold and pests. Surprise! You have mold and termites! Wait, that’s a bad thing… hopefully you had a home inspection and a termite inspection that would have found this problem ahead of time, but if you’ve owned your house a few years, pests and mold certainly could have popped up over time. Termites will likely require professional treatment (check the HomeKeepr community for a great pest control pro!), mold is a mixed bag. Some molds are very dangerous for people to breathe, but others are just kind of always in the environment.

At this point, you need to put all the tools away and have a mold test done. While you’re waiting for the results, figure out where the source of moisture that’s keeping this part of your house moist enough to let the various flora and fauna thrive is coming from and repair that problem right away. You may have to adjust your construction budget, but there’s no vessel sink that’s worth ignoring a termite-eaten sill plate.

Dry. Rot. Dry rot comes from similar conditions as mold and pests, but there’s not a pest or mold around. It’s just that your house is sort of rotting. This is not awesome, but it’s an easier fix than some things. Depending on the extent and location, you may want to bring in a structural engineer to assess the amount of repair that’s going to be needed to get your house back into shape.

A really good handyman or general contractor can take it from there. Structural repairs are not really a DIY situation, but if the dry rot is on outside trim pieces or somewhere your engineer doesn’t think is going to influence the way your house functions, go ahead and fix the source of the damage, replace the damaged boards, seal them and get back on track.

Poorly done prior work. This is what you’re hoping to avoid with your current remodel, so take photos as a sad remember that someday, someone else will Instagram your poorly done remodel if you don’t take this seriously. Whatever you uncover, you’ll need to correct it before you move forward. Don’t put good repairs over bad ones, you might as well not bother to remodel your home at all.

Really gross stuff. Homes that have had less than perfect owners or tenants often have less than perfect secrets. Sometimes they verge on the horrific when it comes to the gross out factor. Anything from lively, active pest infestations to evidence of old pest infestations that were completely out of control could be hiding under those layers of wallpaper. It’s alarming what an insect can hide under and still manage to completely disguise itself. (If you find something of this level, you’ll know — call a pest control pro immediately, you do not want to DIY this!)

Really historical stuff. So as not to send you out on your remodeling adventure on a bad note, let’s talk about something fun you might find. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you’ll find some neat historical stuff. You probably won’t see it in an easy to access place, but if you have some built-in cabinets that you’re trying to refinish, for example, make sure you look under and beneath all the drawers. Subfloors might yield coins of unusual age, basements and attics can have all sorts of treasures in them.

These things might not make the Antiques Roadshow, but they’re fun mementos to keep around and they’ll help you tell the story of your home, assuming they’re fit for mixed company.

The Biggest Surprise of All May Be Your Project’s Timeline

Even if you don’t encounter mold or roaches or magazines from the 1950s during your remodel, you could come across the biggest surprise of them all: just how much time it really takes to do a proper remodel and still work a full time job. If you’re finding that you just can’t make yourself pick up a hammer or a paintbrush after a 9 to 5 at the office, you’re not the first and you’re not alone. That’s what the HomeKeepr community is for. With just a few clicks, you’ll be able to locate a professional who can finish your project in no time and within budget. And, you know they’re going to be awesome because your Realtor recommended them! If you want us to set up a personalized account for your along with an app for your phone, all you have to do is ask!

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Marc Iafrate, MBA
Capital City Real Estate Group
powered by eXp Realty
(919) 390-7810 Office
8319 Six Forks Road, Suite 201
Raleigh, NC 27615

About Capital City Real Estate Group, Inc.

Moving to North Carolina years ago was the best decision my family and I could have made. We were looking for a change from the cold Michigan winters and the volatile economic climate. The Triangle was the perfect choice with its mild winters, quality of life and diverse economic base. I have always held as my personal values and guiding principles: Professionalism, Integrity, Dependability and understand the meaning of perseverance! I began my real estate career in 1996 as a commercial investor. This led to a Director of Property Management position for multi-family and commercial property and now, residential real estate as the Broker/Owner of the Capital City Real Estate Group, Inc. - eXp Realty here in Raleigh. I put myself through the evening MBA program at the University of Michigan while working full time and raising a family. Prior to real estate, I earned a Master of Science in Engineering from U of M and currently hold 2 U.S. Design Patents and had a successful corporate career in the automotive industry. As a result of that experience, I've successfully been able to apply my problem solving ability to business. Community Involvement Wake Forest Downtown, Inc. Board of Directors Wakefield Rotary Club of Wake Forest, NC Board of Directors Rotary Club President-Elect Rotary Club Secretary position Paul Harris Fellow In addition to the Rotary Club, I support causes which strengthen our local community such as the YMCA - We Build People Program and Habitat for Humanity My wife's favorite charity benefiting children is The Angel Tree We participate in our church food and clothing drives to benefit our local community We also support the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer's Association and the Humane Society Professional Associations North Carolina Real Estate Broker License South Carolina Real Estate Broker License National Association of Realtors (NAR) North Carolina Association of Realtors Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors We are committed to delivering outstanding customer service! Marc Iafrate, MBA Broker/Owner Capital City Real Estate Group, Inc. powered by eXp Realty Raleigh, NC

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