Reno Notebook / By Jennifer Malise / February 5, 2018
How Do Architects Renovate Their Own Homes?
The best-laid plans call for the right contractors
When it’s time to work on the most personal project of all—renovating your own home—more and more architects are coming to Sweeten to help them find the right general contractor (we’re flattered). Whether dealing with a tight budget or deadline, navigating a tricky insurance situation, or embarking upon long-awaited plans for their own space, architects need great contractors to fulfill their vision. Join us as we take a look at projects featuring architects who applied their own expertise to the family home.
Cody and Marissa took down the walls surrounding their kitchen, merging it with the living room to create a multipurpose area that maximized the flow of natural light. Envisioning the kitchen as the heart of the home, Cody designed a six-foot-long island as a place for the family to gather around. He also combined a few closets in the living room into one, large closet to make better use of the space. “We felt most comfortable with our general contractor from day one,” Marissa said, “He and Cody collaborated extensively throughout the renovation, and had a clear line of communication. He did not disappoint us in any respect.”
As an architect, Ana developed the plans for her 2-bed, 2-bath apartment and met with several contractors on her own. She was ready to hire one of the general contractors until a background check led to the shocking conclusion that their office address was an empty storefront. Rather than start a new search from scratch, Ana came to Sweeten. The renovation’s most impactful update was opening up the office/guest bedroom to connect it to the living room and installing custom sliding panels that could be used to close off the space whenever privacy was needed. Many of the professionals Ana spoke to said that the sliding panels couldn’t be done because of the oversized dimensions, which would make them too heavy, but their Sweeten contractor took on the challenge and executed them beautifully.
Tina was eager to customize her new home (see part 1 and part 2 of her renovation), but with a fixed deadline fast approaching—the birth of her first child—she needed to act quickly. To personalize the space, she planned to open up the kitchen, re-tile bathrooms, refinish flooring, add molding/casing, and replace interior doors. “Thanks to our Sweeten contractor and his crew, the renovation process was relatively quick and painless. By having the design decisions completed before work began, we eliminated on-the-go decision-making and were able to work with the team and budget effectively,” Tina said. Her contractor was considerate of the tight timeline, and despite minor delays, the job wrapped just in time for the couple to schedule their move-in a week before the baby’s due date.
Looking to renovate their newly-purchased fixer-upper, architect couple Kate and Arthur called upon Sweeten to enlist their team. “Arthur and I both work on very large ground-up projects and don’t regularly work with contractors on the scale of a New York apartment renovation—we needed help finding someone!” Kate said. While the contractor’s team handled the major work—installing wood floors, tiling, lighting, and appliances in the kitchen and bath, as well as removing the built-in loft in the bedroom—Kate and Arthur chose to paint and assemble the IKEA cabinets in the kitchen (a decision that Kate does NOT recommend for future renovators). The outcome was well worth the effort. “We are so happy with how the project turned out. Maybe it’s the sweat equity, but it is always very satisfying to see your design realized. We couldn’t have done it without our Sweeten contractor,” said Kate.
After experiencing water damage in their home for the third time, Brad and Michelle needed to provide realistic estimates that could be used to challenge his insurer’s predictably low ones. Sweeten helped Brad, an architect, find a general contractor who understood the situation completely. While the couple took a week-long vacation, their contractor got to work on gut-renovating their bathroom. Expanding storage in the bath became a challenge when they discovered that the existing glossy red IKEA cabinets had been discontinued. Taking matters into his own hands, Brad designed new ones and worked with Sweeten to find a millworker to execute his vision. Once the cabinets were ready, his Sweeten contractor took care of installation.
Want to see the renovation process broken down step by step? Check out our remodeling guides for the kitchen and bath.
Refer your renovating friends to Sweeten and you’ll both receive a $250 Visa gift card when they sign a contract with a Sweeten general contractor.
Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.