Before & After: Real Life Renovating Tips From a Pro Who Took His House From Blighted To Beautiful

Before & After: Real Life Renovating Tips From a Pro Who Took His House From Blighted To Beautiful

Jacqueline Marque
Nov 30, 2016

We recently featured a House Tour of Shena and George's Formerly Blighted, Beautifully Salvaged New Orleans Home; owner George Peake's transformation of this 19th century house from a decrepit property on the brink of demolition to the gorgeous home it is today is staggering. George graduated from The Tulane School of Architecture and has been renovating historic houses in New Orleans since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina forced him to rebuild his first property.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

For readers who are ready to take on a renovation project, we thought we'd ask George—who does construction and renovation with Bastion Works—for his advice. Here's what the experienced pro had to say:

  • Take the time to make sure you have a plan you like before you start. One of the biggest hold-ups is trying to figure it out as you go along. And usually it doesn't turn out how you imagined it. Architects are overlooked in a lot of construction projects these days, and that is a shame. Most contractors aren't designers, just as most designers are not good contractors.
  • Understand why you are doing this renovation. When first talking with clients, I ask them why they want to do the project, trying to extract their overall goal. The answers vary; added square footage, a better bathroom, a new kitchen. Figuring that out in the beginning helps eliminate a lot of other questions you don't need to approach. This is also true about the end use of the house. Consider whether you are planning on renting it or want to live in it and how that effects your choices.
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)
  • Understand the time commitment and don't rush it. Sometimes you need to pressure some contractors to move quicker, but it's only going to add more stress trying to rush the project.
  • Get the material you want. The labor price to install really cheap tile is the same as it is to install really expensive tile (for the most part). The same goes for counters, cabinets, floors, and every other aspect you can imagine. If you are building this home to live in, spend the extra little money to make sure you are proud and excited for your house.
  • Price should not dictate everything. When it comes to contractors, don't automatically go with the lowest price. You are about to enter into a very intense relationship with your contractor, so make sure you trust him, and really do want to talk to him and see him everyday.

Thanks, George!

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.6.15-NT

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