Email us

Express Home Improvements Logo

Pittsburgh Home Renovations can be a daunting task to undertake. A lot of the homes in the Pittsburgh area have hidden damages, work that was done incorrectly, or were just thrown together during the times when people didn’t have a lot of money and the population was booming because of the steel mills. Not to mention the lead paint and asbestos that exist in most homes that were built prior to 1968. And that’s not even accounting for the multitude of scam artists posing as contractors.

After working on more than 14 apartments, 3 home renovations, and multiple kitchen, bath, and basement renovations, we have learned a few things that could be helpful to you when starting a Pittsburgh Home Renovation

Lesson 1: Replace the Plumbing

When we started Express Home Improvements, we were fortunate enough to find a reliable and experienced plumber to work with. Copper drain lines are present in many Pittsburgh Homes. These used to be the standard. Now we know that copper drain lines will rust and potentially cause a leak in your home that could cause damage. We were renovating a master bathroom in Trafford, PA. The bathroom was built on a slab and had copper drain lines run. Our plumber recommended replacing all the drain lines as there was a good chance they were rusted and full of holes. We conveyed their concern to the home owner and they decided to go ahead and replace them. When we pulled the drain lines out they were rusted, full of holes, and corroded. The plumber was right! This problem would have led to the cement slab under the bathroom cracking and breaking apart. Since this experience when we encounter copper drain lines we always recommend replacing them.

Lesson 2: Expect Code Violations

A lot of the Pittsburgh Home Renovation projects we do uncover code violations. And although this may seem scary, not all of them need to be addressed. There is an entire section in the code book for “grandfathering in” the old ways that things were done. The construction industry has changed a lot over the years. Our knowledge of building methods and materials has grown incredibly. Every year there are advancements in what we know. Because of this, contractors from 50 years ago did things that we either now know is not safe or know a better way to get it done. Lead paint is an example of this. This product used to be used everywhere, but we now know it can cause health issues. That being said we dont remove lead paint from every house we encounter it in.

There are methods for addressing it where we don’t have to remove it, however, we also don’t use it anymore. As our knowledge about construction continues to grow, so does our code requirements. These code requirements are there to ensure a quality and safe project is completed. Some codes are there for comfort, like ceiling heights, and others are there for safety, like fire proofing codes.

We work with the local municipalities and our team of professionals to navigate these murky waters and help our clients make informed decisions about what code violations to rectify, and what can be grandfathered in. An example of a grandfathered in code violation would be ceiling heights in a finished basement. We are now required by code to make finished basement ceilings 7 feet tall. Old basements can be 6 feet tall, 6.5 feet tall or another height. We don’t need to raise a house to have a 7-foot basement ceiling height to renovate an existing basement.

Lesson 3: Restoration can be better than Renovation

Just because something is old doesn’t mean it needs replaced. There are a lot of older building products that are better quality than what we can get now. For instance, if you are renovating a kitchen on a strict budget. Older solid wood cabinets are better than the press board cabinets you can get at some of the larger box stores like Lowes and Home Depot. As long as these cabinets aren’t damaged in some way, it could save you money and give you a longer lasting product to refinish the old cabinets and install new hardware and doors rather than paying to replace them. Refinishing old hardwood floors can be cheaper than installing new floors in some cases too. We recently were able to renovate a clients kitchen where another contractor had started the project and ruined her cabinets. Instead of replacing the already new cabinets with newer cabinets, we were able to repair them and give this homeowner a beautiful newly renovated kitchen.

Lesson 4: 15% Contingency

We tell our clients to keep in mind a 10% to a 15% contingency. During any Pittsburgh Home Renovation things will be uncovered that need to be addressed and weren’t part of the original project plan. We worked on a lot of apartments in Wilmerding, PA, where this rang true in almost everyone.

We would go to replace flooring and find that the subfloor had weak spots in it, replace light fixtures and find wiring problems, try to get the power turned on and discover the panel needs replaced before the utility company would turn the power on, and much more. We try to manage expectations properly during the course of a construction project and part of that is making sure that a homeowner isn’t blindsided by a change in the scope of work because of things that were discovered throughout the construction process.

Thanks for Reading

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Our goal at Express Home Improvements is to help homeowners be informed about the projects they are undertaking and make the most informed decisions that they can. If you have any questions or concerns about a project you are planning or currently undertaking, please call us. We would love to help. We can be reached through the chat button on our website, or you can call us at:

(443) 593-2213

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *