Renovation is down to final details


THE END IS in sight -- literally -- for Dick and Nancy Councill, who've been enduring a major construction and renovation project on their home. The exterior is 99 percent complete, most of what is going on now is inside. The trim is finished, the painter is almost done, and the ceramic tile is nearing completion.

But the big moment came when Ron's crew removed the plywood from the doors that enter the existing house and replaced it with plastic. Now you can see into the new space from the house, and it really opens things up.

There is still a lot going on. Ron has been working with Nancy on selecting finishes and fixtures for a couple of weeks. There are a lot of details to consider: Which doorknobs will have privacy or keyed locks, where will towel bars and robe hooks be placed, what knob will go on which cabinet, or how will the closet rods and shelving be laid out.

Things like lighting fixtures, bath hardware and doorknobs were dealt with as "allowances" in the contract. That meant that for items not selected before the contract was signed, a budget was set for them. This is an important element of the contract. Any item that is not specified in the beginning has to have a dollar amount associated with it, so you know how much money you can spend. It's a good idea to get at least a ballpark estimate of the cost of what you would like.

The Councills selected most of the major finishes (ceramic tile, hardwood flooring, cabinets, appliances) before the contract was signed. When Nancy researched lighting fixtures, she realized there wasn't enough money in the budget for what she wanted. So Ron adjusted the contract price. When she made her final choices, the actual cost was very close to estimates.

Some of the other allowance items were changed or upgraded when the final selections were made. The important thing is to know what is allowed, so you know if you are going over the budget, or if you spend less than was allowed, you get a credit for it.

While making all these final selections, you have to keep the end result in mind. The Councills have a window seat in their master bedroom with a cabinet and bookshelf on either side. They had yet to determine what to do with the counter top on the cabinet. However, once the ceiling fan was installed, Nancy found the answer. The finish on the fan matched a granite tile she liked. So the top on the cabinet will coordinate with the fan.

The fan was chosen to coordinate with the carpet and paint colors. Still to come are window treatments and furnishings, but it's easy to coordinate those things with what's already in place.

As the Councills proved, it isn't necessary to have every detail in place before work begins. Some things can be selected as work goes along, or as choices become more obvious. You should, however, know beforehand what the major components of your project will cost so your budget will be adequate to buy the kinds of things you want.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and past president of the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol V.Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

Renovation checklist

Items done as of March 5 on the Councill project:

Stake out/excavate

Pour footing

Demolish roof

Install drain tile

Foundation walls

Pour slabs


Install windows

Exterior doors

Shingle roof


Gutters and downspouts

Rough HVAC *

Rough plumbing

Rough electrical



Interior doors

Interior trim

Paint interior


Ceramic tile

Install bath hardware

Finish HVAC

Finish electrical

Finish plumbing

Install hardwood floors


Clean up

Final inspections

Landscape * Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning systems

Pub Date: 3/07/99

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