Share Your Pain with Us

CA-Modern magazine seeks readers' tales of remodeling woe and regret for new story
Fridays On the Homefront
This guy's got the feeling! He's ready to share his home-improvement horror story with CA-Modern magazine for our upcoming article 'What I Wish I Knew Before I Remodeled.'
Fridays On the Homefront
Fridays On the Homefront
Fridays On the Homefront
CA-Modern's Tanja Kern: battling gruesome home-improvement experiences.

Wanted: Horror stories, haunted housework, and monstrous mistakes.

Homeowners, beware. There be monsters and unanticipated gore in opening the ‘Pandora’s Box of Renovation.’

Tanja Kern, home-improvement editor for the Eichler Network’s CA-Modern magazine, has a few grisly tales of her own, but she wants to compile a more complete guide to battling gruesome home-improvement experiences.

“We’re definitely hoping to hear more horror stories if readers want to share them,” said Kern about researching her upcoming story for the summer ‘16 CA-Modern tentatively titled ‘What I Wish I Knew Before I Remodeled.’

Interested homeowners should contact Tanja by e-mail at kern.tanja AT gmail.com before March 15, 2016.

Kern knows where from she writes, as she and her husband are self-professed “serial remodelers.” They have done homes from the 1960s and ‘70s, though their current project is a 1934 Colonial Revival house in Springfield, Missouri.

Kern said the most regrettable mishaps generally come in bigger-ticket projects like kitchen and bathroom remodels, “where homeowners are so confident they can handle it.”

“I’ve had friends who decided to be their own GC [general contractor] for a kitchen remodel. They thought they would save so much money,” she recalled. “It became a challenge when they realized they didn’t have enough time between their day jobs to constantly meet with the various trades on their project.

“They ended up spending $2,000 more than anticipated because some wiring had to be redone, and cabinets had to be removed and reattached when some things were done in the wrong order.”

Of course, Kern knows that people who are fond of design such as mid-century modern are also likely to be interested in improving their home.

“A lot of our [CA-Modern and Eichler Network] readers are pretty savvy—they know what they want, and they know what to do,” she conceded. “There’s such a learning curve, especially if you haven't done it before...You have to be really organized to do it yourself. Usually those people are do-it-yourselfers who have been doing it a long time.”

Where things are more likely to go all ‘Frankenstein’ on a homeowner is when they underestimate the value of professional expertise. Kern said homeowners can be haunted by “the HGTV syndrome: people watch it and they think they can do it all.”

She described some one-time neighbors of hers who “decided to shoot from the hip” on their bathroom remodel by a local handyman.

“They did not get drawings done by a designer or architect before work started,” she recalled. “Things were humming along nicely until the backsplash was to be installed.

“They didn’t think through the location for the switches, and they ended up with too many random switches and outlets, which marred the design of the backsplash. They ended up paying to have some of the tile removed, the wiring reworked, and the tile re-installed.”