A Guide to Remodeling Stone Houses

Šime Unić
A Guide to Remodeling Stone Houses

Have a stone house you’d like to spruce up a bit? You know, really make the natural stone stand out. Or you have old floorboards that creak louder than the nearby church bell? You might have inherited the house but don’t want to sell it, or perhaps you do want to sell it, but can’t while it's in such a state. It isn’t unusual for older stone houses to be really cold, which doesn’t make for good living conditions outside of the summer months. This makes it all the more difficult to rent it out too.

Remodeling a house can be a great solution to all these problems; it can revive it a bit, modernize it a bit both in terms of style and construction, and also make it so much more suitable to live in. Adapting an old house is an investment, but it can be a really profitable one if you look at it in the long term. 

What Do I Need for Remodeling a Stone House?

First, you’ve got to ask yourself the question: for what am I planning to repurpose the house? Also, is this realistic (i.e. profitable and doable)? Will I get a return on my investment? This is especially important to keep in mind if the house has some tourist potential.

Then, visualize what you want your newly-refurbished house to look like. This is where various simple applications (some intended for architects) can come in handy. Play around with them a bit and visualize your idea.  If not visually, it's important to at least have a list of things that you’d like to change. 

Now that you have an approximate idea/list, we suggest you find an architectural firm which will be able to create a conceptual solution and put together a cost estimate with a full list of work – construction, installation work, etc. – that needs to be done to make the idea a reality. The solution, depending on your wants, can include just some interior design, but also the design for the exterior of the house. 

The next step is contacting a construction company. Some firms even offer full service – from project planning to building – so that you don't need to waste your time on finding alternative solutions. 

What Do I Need for Remodeling a Stone House?

How Long Does Remodeling Take?

Remodeling a house usually takes between 3 and 6 months, depending on the extent of work and the size of the house itself. Your firm of choice will prepare an individualized time line for you.

However, this time span refers only to the process of physical adaptation. All of the stuff that comes before – the conceptualizing, budgeting, purchasing materials – will depend on you, on the timeliness of the firm you hired, and also on the availability of materials. For example, when it comes to stone houses, the type of stone might be one limitation. However, it's definitely worth waiting for the right material and for quality construction. 

How Much Does Remodeling Cost?

It’s difficult to predict the price of a renovation without an analysis of the state and location of the house. The company you’ve hired will prepare a detailed cost estimate, and it will in turn depend on the size of the building, the location, materials and equipment used.

Be prepared, though. The price of a remodeling project usually ends up being higher than you initially planned since unexpected expenses can crop up, especially when you’re dealing with an older house. 

How Much Does Remodeling Cost?

A Workflow for a House Renovation

To make the process of renovating your house as simple as possible (since it can seem never-ending as is), we've prepared for you a suggested workflow which will, at least in ideal working conditions, take place in the following order:

  1. Decide on what exactly you want to renovate
  2. Set a budget and count on the price always going up at least 20% compared to your predicted costs. Set aside a bit more money bearing this in mind.
  3. As for several offers for the conceptual solution and the construction itself. Compare offers and decide on the one that best suits you price-wise and in terms of quality.
    • A side note: the offer should contain prices per unit (per square meter, per kilogram of material, per meter, etc.) so you can calculate the final price exactly. 
  4. Agree on all the aspects of the adaptations with the contractor, in detail. Make sure they agree to inform you, on time, of all possible changes. This includes any possible delays, and especially changes in the costs of certain segments of their work. In doing so, you should make clear that you have to sign off on any changes. Also, come to an agreement on the possible construction phases so that you can keep track of the construction work and know if they're running behind schedule (if so, why). This will also let the contractor know exactly what's expected of them. Payment upon completing specific phases can be a great incentive.
  5. Determine the payment method. It’s good practice to pay in advance for the materials and then pay the rest upon completion of the project (or specific phases). We also suggest you agree that you pay a certain smaller amount after the contractor finishes the wiring and plumbing, which comes at the very end of the construction, apart from the flooring and wall painting. If you’re arranging for the same contractor to do the latter two jobs, just bear this in mind as well.
  6. Sign a contract, even if they don’t have an official company. Any kind of guarantee is welcome.
    • A piece of advice: leave room for things to “go wrong”. Just like you’ll be planning for the price to go up, also plan for the construction to take longer than the contractor says it will. This is why it’s better to put an earlier deadline in the contract rather than the actual final date by which you need the renovation to be complete.
  7. Keep track of their work. You can get someone to do this for you and pay them, or do this yourself. Either way, we recommend you keep track of things so that everything goes according to plan. Also, take photos in specific phases of their work so that you can have any documentation ready on hand should you come to a dispute, or simply as a keepsake and later reference.

If you make a solid plan and come across a quality contractor who you trust, your old, possibly neglected stone house could end up looking like this charming stone house near Šibenik or some other stone houses Terra Dalmatica has on offer. 

A Workflow for a House Renovation

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