eLocal Blog-Off #1: The Final Word from the Prevailing Home Improvement Experts

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eLocal Blog-OffOur inaugural Blog-Off is over and the experts have answered: homeowners should make electrical and plumbing decisions first during a remodel.

Blog-Off participants commented on each others’ answers in order to come to a final consensus on the “plumbing/electrical decisions vs. concept first” argument. There were a lot of great comments, but a few stood out from the rest.

Blog-Off #1 Re-Cap

In case you missed the first Blog-Off, we asked a panel of expert interior designers, contractors, and manufacturers to weigh in on the following question, using a master bathroom remodel as a prime case study:

During a major remodel, should homeowners create their dream design first or should plumbing and electrical decisions be considered before all else?

There was a clear winner in the “which comes first” argument: 71% of experts say plumbing and electrical decisions should come first, designing a concept around the appropriate plumbing/electrical capabilities of the space. The main reason most experts gave for choosing plumbing/electrical decisions first is that a space can have certain limitations depending on its construction and layout. Unless money is no object, most homeowners will need to work around certain constraints, such as where the plumbing or electrical fixtures can go in a room. Since budget is almost always important, the experts recommend learning about a space’s limitations first, then designing your dream space. This will ensure you do not get your heart set on a specific concept, only to find out later it is impossible to implement.

Participants from both sides of the argument were asked to comment on everyone’s answers. There were some great back and forth discussions, and even some homeowners weighed in!

After reviewing the discussion, we chose to highlight five comments that each demonstrated a different key element found in valuable feedback. So, without further ado, eLocal presents the top five comments for our first Blog-Off:

eLocal Blog-Off #1 Comment Awards

Most Insightful Comment

Larry Dimock of The Circuit Detective had the most insightful comment:

“By its nature, design should be half beauty and half function, but dreams are largely beauty—even the “beauty” of an electrical or plumbing technology that is in vogue. When a dreamer is in charge, function takes a definite backseat.”

Larry’s comment points at an inherent tension between dreams and designs. The dream has no limitations; it is perfect by its nature. The design, however, occurs in the real world and it faces all the constraints the dream does not: budget, plumbing and electrical decisions, etc. What do we take away from this comment? To create a fantastic new space without an unlimited budget, homeowners should dream a little less and design a little more.

See the rest of Larry’s comment here.

Most Unique Comment

Jenna Burger from SAS Interiors had a lot of her followers jump in on the conversation. All of them homeowners, each had a unique perspective on the subject. One that stood out came from Elaina, owner of an 85-year-old home:

“As the owner of an 85 year old home that has a laundry list of plumbing and electrical quirks that only a ‘vintage’ home lover can understand, I must agree that the layout of pipes and wiring are key decisions that need to be made in the early planning stages of any remodel. As Jenna Burger said, ‘When working with a talented and experienced designer, they should be able to modify the design concept to work with the existing conditions, yet still create a space that the homeowner envisioned.’ With this in mind, you can get the look you want without sacrificing the sound structure that any design project needs to ensure long lasting durability.”

We picked this comment because it gave a true life example of Jenna Burger’s Blog-Off response. While you might take plumbing and electrical constraints into account first, you don’t need to give up on your creative vision. Elegant design can work around these limitations and obviously this thinking has worked out well for this homeowner! So, if you find plumbing and electrical decisions are leading you away from your dream, it’s time to find a talented designer to help you steer around those obstacles.

Best Articulated Comment

This award goes to Terry Peterman of Electrical Online for:

“…The bottom line in any renovation is that almost anything can work if you throw enough money at it, but when faced with the reality of the price of major changes, common sense prevails, and the plan is modified to fit the budget.”

Terry couldn’t have said it better. He laid out the issue in layman’s terms—the only way you can ignore plumbing and electrical issues in a remodel is if you have an unlimited budget. However, since most homeowners count money as one of their top concerns during a remodel, plumbing and electrical decisions are usually made first, and the creative vision and budget are modified to fit accordingly.

See the rest of Terry’s comment here.

Most Thought-Provoking Comment

This award goes to Greg Chick from DIY Plumbing Advice and Ramona’s Plumber for:

“Great thoughts, but what about the specific stuff needed to get end results?…Too much attention to looks distracts from the details of a symbiotic cohesive installation. A lot of jobs I see, I am called to fix someone’s remodel, which has design problems due to details of the installation. Integration of the “motif” requires more than some plumbers know how to do. The looks actually need to work well functionally. I see too much makeshift things behind walls.”

Greg’s comment spawned several replies by other experts, earning him this spot. Plus, he points out a really important element in any remodeling project—design and function need to work cohesively together. One specific professional may not possess the know-how to account for both design and function. Greg mentions that not all plumbers know how to integrate a visual motif into a project. Likewise, a lot of professionals or homeowners who have the vision may not have the expertise to implement it correctly, creating “makeshift” things to happen “behind walls.” The bottom line: there is no successful design if it doesn’t function properly!

See the rest of Greg’s comment here.

Best Advice

Katie Miller from Roomations gave the best advice:

“If you’re seeking help with aesthetics, contact an interior designer or architect who is comfortable balancing big dreams with practical realities—and make sure they have great relationships with plumbing contractors! Homeowners tend to run into trouble when they make too many important decisions without professional guidance or when they rely on just a single professional to address issues that are beyond the professionals true area of expertise or typical service offerings.”

Katie gives homeowners actionable advice for a successful remodel that combines design and function. Homeowners should be sure to consult professionals that are versed in the specifics of their individual project. It is unwise to rely on yourself or one particular contractor to know everything. It is best to ask the right questions and ensure the professionals you are working with are experts on the task at hand. If they are only experts on a part of the project, make sure you consult the appropriate professional to fill in the gap so that your renovation is completed successfully.

See the rest of Katie’s comment here.

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