One of the common challenges in remodeling is to control the mentality of adding projects in the “while we are at it” category.

These additions can quickly add up and scuttle a project budget. On the other hand, there is a logical sequence to many construction scenarios which can save money.

Remodeling Unknowns

The two main rooms the Rockwoods focused on in their home remodel were the master suite and bathroom and piano studio. They stayed within their original footprint, but it took a lot of rearranging to reconfigure the layout.

For Scott and Kate Rockwood, a “while we are at it” remodeling project was practical timing.

They were dealing with sluggish, old pipes that were causing poor water pressure. Their plumber recommended re-plumbing the whole house in order to fix the problem. “Our home is a little over 50 years old and the pipes were just as old,” says Kate Rockwood. “We decided if we were going to re-plumb the whole house than we might as well change the other things in the house that we didn’t like while we were at it.”

Their project stayed within their existing walls and reconfigured the parts of the layout that weren’t working for their lifestyle.

The first room they relocated was Kate’s piano studio. The original piano studio was in the back of the house and her students had to walk through the house to get there. “It wasn’t very convenient,” she says. “Now it is located at the front of the house. It is nicer to just come in the front door and there you are.”

Another motivation to remodel was the desire for a larger, more comfortable master suite and (if you ask Scott, more importantly) a luxurious master bathroom. Remember, we mentioned the water pressure? Well, one of Scott Rockwood’s “must haves” for the project was a multiple head shower and a soaking tub.

“We had a tiny shower before,” Kate says. “You could touch both sides with your elbows.”

They chose beautiful artistic finishes throughout the master bath, ranging from marble and glass tile, a vessel sink, beautiful counters and flooring, and a crystal light fixture to add some bling. “All the little components were important to us,” Scott says. “When it came to the tile, fixtures and finishes, we didn’t go for the budget items. We chose what we liked and that is what has made it ours.”

While they didn’t add floor space, they did add two bays with window seats to the refurbished rooms — one in their bedroom and one in the piano studio.

The new windows in the piano studio are actually Kate’s favorite part of the new house. “The bay windows make the rooms feel much larger,” she says. “The window seat works for students so we don’t need an additional chair now. I love being able to look outside when I am in there. It is definitely not as claustrophobic as the old studio with its small, high windows.”

The Rockwoods love their new remodel and wouldn’t change a thing; however, they can’t say it didn’t come without a few challenges.

Their biggest hitch was one of those unknowns. The plans were to remove almost all the interior walls in the bedroom wing of the main floor to reconfigure the layout. “When the demolition started and the house was down to the sticks,” Scott says, “the contractor could see one wall was load-bearing when we had not expected it to be.”

They needed to install an additional beam in the ceiling. The cheaper and easier solution in this situation is to add an exposed beam, meaning the beam is installed under the existing ceiling joists so that it is visible inside the room. If this condition occurs in a location where a beam is visually logical (between a kitchen and dining room, for instance), then it can be a nice addition to the design to help define the two spaces.

If, however, the beam occurs where it is not visually appealing, then it needs to be installed above the ceiling so it will be hidden. This option is a common construction practice, although it is somewhat more expensive due to the time and labor needed to cut the existing ceiling joists, insert the new beam, and hang the existing joists off of it.

Renovation Solutions: Be prepared for remodeling ‘unknowns’