This fairy-tale phase of a home remodel is the tail end of any major project. The Honeymoon has come and gone. The Midproject Crisis has thankfully passed. The Renewal of Vows has given you the strength you need to continue on, and now we’re finally, and gratefully, just about out of phases. It’s time to wrap up this series on the ups and downs of remodeling by detailing the final few steps that are taken to complete a home remodel. What I call the Happily Ever After phase.
Ever After 1: Sophie Metz Design, original photo on Houzz
Whether you have experienced it, known someone who has gone through it or have only read about it, you’re probably familiar with what it’s like to be in love. Emotions run the gamut of excitement, happiness, giddiness and contentedness (as well as a wide range of others). The person in love is likely to be gushing about her beau or his sweetheart to anyone who will listen. It’s a time when even the most cynical of people looks at the world through rose-tinted glasses.
Moving back into a house after remodeling can be a bit like being in love. Are you not excited to use all your new appliances or plumbing fixtures? (Hello, new bathtub!) Is there not a smidge of giddiness as you think about coming home to your pristine new bathroom, kitchen or living room? Don’t deny it — you’re probably even babbling to the barista at Starbucks about your new space.
During this Happily Ever After stage, finally, the work is done! At last, there are no more nail guns and saws and vacuums making noise in your house. After months of destruction and disarray, it’s time to move back in and enjoy your home, sweet home, for the rest of your days (or at least until you sell it or remodel again). And though most of this phase is just you at last having the chance to enjoy the fruit of your general contractor’s labor, there are a few odds and ends that your contractor will be taking care of to make sure your Happily Ever After really lasts forever.
Ever After 2: chadbourne + doss architects, original photo on Houzz
- Cleaning. This probably will happen before you move back into your home (or at least it should). Since day one of demolition, dust and debris have been thrown into the air and, much to your contractor’s chagrin, have crept into other places in the house that weren’t touched in the remodel. Now’s the time to do an all-inclusive clean. No, the cleaners won’t do your laundry for you, but they’ll do just about everything else, from polishing the floors to dusting the ceiling fans. The end-of-project clean is like a cleansing spa day for your home.
- Final walk-through. The last walk-through ensures that you are completely satisfied with everything — and I mean everything — in your home. This is where you will have the chance to sit down and bring up all the odds and ends that you feel need to be addressed. This can be anything from “this faucet isn’t on straight” to “there’s a scratch on the new fridge” to “my shower isn’t draining correctly.”
Contractors may vary on when they hold a final walk-through, but in my experience, it’s scheduled after the homeowners move back in and have a chance to use the new space. Your contractor should’ve caught just about everything during his or her own informal walk-throughs throughout the remodel, but sometimes there are items that just don’t come to the surface until a house is lived in.
Ever After 3: Collins & DuPont Design Group, original photo on Houzz
- Warranty begins. Most builders and remodelers have a warranty for their projects. The length and amount of coverage can vary, of course, but what remains constant is the promise to stand behind their work for any unforeseen circumstances that arise and need addressing. (Side note: If you’re looking at contractors right now, ask them about their warranty. This can be very telling of how they conduct their business. The more that contractors are willing to warrant their work — or the longer the warranty — the more effort they will put into getting the job done right the first time.)
For some contractors, the warranty formally begins after the final walk-through is hosted and the last payment is received. After that, some will stand behind any light fixtures that fizzle, appliances that break, tiles that come loose — you name it. In an ideal world, everything would work right the first time, and it would work right forever. In our world, however, there are bad manufacturing batches and recalls and oversights that may need to be taken care of. Fear not. If you have selected the right remodeler, these issues will be handled.
Ever After 4: Mark Hickman Homes, original photo on Houzz
What else is involved in the Happily Ever After? Absolutely nothing. Take a deep breath in, let it out, look around your new place and smile, knowing that it’s all yours, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do you part. You get the picture.