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New Rules for a New Normal

March 8, 2014

This is a new time for those who are in the home-determination mindset: to do anything, you have to break the cycle of fear that is paralyzing a very large segment of those who formerly thought it was prudent to enhance your greatest investment. Here’s a pep talk for those who want to do something, but are on the fence (or worse, the ledge).

ITS NOT NUTS TO ACT: if you really can’t stand your life location, there are options BUT you have to be ALL IN or you CANNOT GET HOME – you will be consigned to live like a refugee for the foreseeable, miserable out years. To get all in you have to pick a path and COMMIT – here are the New Normals to subvert the Dominant Paradigm of fear.

There are 3 basic options:

1) BUILD NEW – Maximum Control – Maximum Risk

-Beware the “Cost Per Square Foot” estimating rules per thumb: every site is different and every homeowner is different.

-Without a survey, fully vetted (subsoil, zoning, wetlands, septic) BEFORE purchase you are buying a mystery.

-Like battle plans, stock plans never survive the first wave of action: vet every design notion on the site, with an independent designer.

-Beware the developer builder – zero reality checks.

-Beware the design-builder – almost zero reality checks.

2) REMODEL/EXPAND – Obvious Realities With Hidden Harms & Benefits

-What’s behind walls can kill dreams – punching and repairing holes is cheaper than buying a pig in a poke.

-Adding on has all the risks of site-dependent building new (see above).

-What you have does not guarantee what you can get: number of bedrooms, size of finished area, height, and footprint may become illegal if you do anything outside the existing walls.

-Seaside modifications almost always trigger Federal Code Review with HUGE design and budget implications.

-You cannot build the site: no amount of remodeling turns sow’s ears into Kate Spade arm wear.

3) RENOVATE/DECORATE – Going With The Flow – Less Control, Money, Risk

-You can contract more, do more, and spend less: but that mean you get very little done, and end up hating the project.

-Decorating does not redesign anything but what you see.

-New surfaces can mean new structure – not about discovering rot, but about making sure what surfaces you use can be supported.

YOU are the catalyst for Action: but these are the New Insights that may become conventional wisdom as the New Normal ceases to be new…

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