RealCincy.com Podcast: Home Remodeling, New Construction and more
For this podcast I sat down with Greg Matulionis, Master Carpenter and owner of Sawdust Therapy. During our conversation we discussed home remodeling, new construction, permits for home remodeling and more. This podcast is helpful for those about to purchase, or sell real estate or those considering remodeling their home rather than selling. I hope you enjoy the podcast and find it informative. Please also share with those who may find it useful.
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Feel free to ask any questions via the comments section below or to email either Greg or myself. Also if you have any ideas for future podcast topics you would like to see let me know!
About the author: The above article “RealCincy.com Podcast: Home Remodeling, New Construction” was provided by Luxury Real Estate Specialist Paul Sian. Paul can be reached at paul@CinciNKYRealEstate.com or by phone at 513-560-8002. If you’re thinking of selling or buying your investment or commercial business property I would love to share my marketing knowledge and expertise to help you. Contact me today!
I work in the following Greater Cincinnati, OH and Northern KY areas: Alexandria, Amberly, Amelia, Anderson Township, Cincinnati, Batavia, Blue Ash, Covington, Edgewood, Florence, Fort Mitchell, Fort Thomas, Hebron, Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Kenwood, Madeira, Mariemont, Milford, Montgomery, Mt. Adams, Mt. Washington, Newport, Newtown, Norwood, Taylor Mill, Terrace Park, Union Township, and Villa Hills.
[00:00:09] Paul: Hello. My name is Paul Sian, real estate agent with United Real Estate Home Connections licensed in the state of Ohio and Kentucky. And with me today is Greg Matulionis owner of sawdust therapy. How are you doing, Greg? I'm doing great. Good morning. Good morning. It's glad to have you. Here s Oh, just, uh, when we get started with this and once you tell us a little bit about you and your company, how long have you been doing this work for?
[00:00:34] Greg: I started my carpentry skills when I was a little kid. Okay, Uh, I worked with my dad. My dad was not a professional carpenter. He was in a research. I since I could remember holding a hammer. Then it led toe cutting board with us all. Well, through my high school and college years, I just didn't joint with Workington. Restored a couple homes,
[00:01:02] Paul: Okay. And then, uh, you know, I've been through your website a couple times and seeing you know, you're pretty proud of the fact that you're a master carpenter. And what you tell us what a master carpenter is? How do you How do you become one and what's What's the advantage for that. That's a
[00:01:17] Greg: good question. How did you become a master carpenter? I think Master Master Carpenter, by definition, is doing something consistently for 20 to 25 years. Okay? And I think that's where it comes into. You know, I've been doing woodworking projects and working on homes since like that since I was a little kid. Oh, it, uh, you know, just a set of problem solving skills whatsoever.
[00:01:45] Paul: There's no training certifications or anything like that. It's just it's more of Ah, you know, you've been doing it for such and such amount of time training
[00:01:52] Greg: certifications. You certainly get your licenses for carpenters. For plumbers going through the educational process, the term master doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go through a formal education as much as just real life experience from day to day.
[00:02:11] Paul: Yeah, it's almost like a like a term of art. We would call it certain. Right? Then let's talk about I know you do a lot of, you know, home improvements, and you dio you've done new construction as well. Are you familiar with the permitting process and the home improvements? I mean, how important is that? How critical is that
[00:02:29] Greg: permit process is extremely important. There are certain aspects. There are certain projects that don't require permit the permit process. It's two sided. It's protects the homeowner to protect the contractor. Did contractor. That might be trying to take some shortcuts, which might look okay right now, but give it two years. Give it five years. It might show the problems. It's just a meter to be able to make sure that the work is being done. So it's gonna last okay, and it's safe.
[00:02:59] Paul: Okay. And whose responsibility is that? Normally, toe. Get the permits.
[00:03:02] Greg: Uh, sometimes I'll work with the homeowner and they can go get it themselves. Most often, I take care of getting a permit. With the permit, comes the inspections. So you have electrical inspections, you have plumbing inspections. You know, if you're building a new album, or in addition, you'll have foot and foundation inspections and you'll have a final inspection just to make sure everything is complete. Have actually working. So
[00:03:28] Paul: with that, that's the use of the city or the municipality. Whoever's giving the permits, they're the ones coming out making the inspections. Yeah, we're
[00:03:35] Greg: building departments for various cities
[00:03:38] Paul: Okay, then let's talk about current home features. I mean, are you familiar with what's what's popular now? What's what. Helps helps sell homes. Now
[00:03:47] Greg: what everybody is doing is is opening up. Therefore, plan Okay? Many calls I get or about trying to opened up the space between the family room in the kitchen and tearing down a wall and making it more integrated family space. That certainly is the trend. I think bathrooms and kitchens updating them has been a constant in the market in construction seems to have slowed down.
[00:04:12] Paul: Yeah, I think that's financing. The financing has tightened up for a new constructions. I think
[00:04:17] Greg: everybody's, you know, finding that they're happy with where they're at, they're going to stay put. So they're doing their restorations on additions, small editions and some fairly good sized editions seem to be kind of in the trend as well.
[00:04:30] Paul: Yeah, that's funny. You mentioned opening up a floor plan. I mean, that's, you know, originally contacted you again. Thio, come out, look at our house and remodel our second floor and kind of open it up because it's a pretty tight looking with its Yeah, that's a good open floor plans like that here a lot, and my wife talks about that a lot, too. Let's talk about home remodeling. Let's say somebody homeowner wants to remodel like you know myself. I called you up. You know, I want to figure out what to do. I mean, is there should I talked to an architect for? Should I call you first? Should I just brainstorm the ideas myself? What one of the best ways to get get an idea out there? Yeah,
[00:05:07] Greg: I do get calls a lot from homeowners that are wanting to start project and depending on the scale of the project, I'll work with them and help them make some decisions about maybe rearranging the bathroom or rearranging workflow in the kitchen. Eso
[00:05:25] Paul: You know,
[00:05:25] Greg: if it's a major renovation, it's going to require an architect. You know, I'll make some recommendations, you know, for the smaller projects. I just partner with the homeowner, use my experience. There's playing resource is online to find things that you'd like to find, you know, space planning that you don't like. So you just avoid not making something that you're not happy with in the end, Eso you know working with architect interior desire once in a while.
[00:05:51] Paul: Yes, so we want to, you know, remodel, remodel, interior and, you know, get some ideas from you and the architect helps us out or you help us out. I mean, in terms of its another question, I'll come back to his permits. I know a lot of exterior features like you're adding a new deck or changing the deck, or you're adding, in addition to the house, you need permits. What about for interior? Let's say I'm just cutting couple holes in walls. And the first Florida Open up the floor plan, as you mentioned, I mean, is that Does that require permitting process? Now, if you think about it, it's
[00:06:21] Greg: like if you're gonna do decorative things, turn down some drywall opening up a window, you know, access from one room to the other. A. Salama's. It's not a major structural component. Okay, you can pretty much so do what you want. You don't need to permit to put a new bathroom floor in the new new toilet or showers. You don't need a permit for tile work, so it is when you get into putting a deck on the back of the house, for example, you already have footers, concrete work that needs to be done properly. And he would have to file for a permit for that. And then the permit would also ensure that the job is getting completed. Cities and counties don't want projects that aren't finished because it pulls down the whole neighborhood when you have a deck that's started and not finished, or in addition, that gets started and isn't finished. Oh, protecting the community that it's in.
[00:07:10] Paul: Okay, what about something like a no adequate model? Currently, the addicts unfinished. And with that require permit again, it
[00:07:17] Greg: zona be. If you got new electric that you're gonna have to be running up there, then that's going to require permit. Okay, plumbing. If you're going to run the plumbing, that's going to require a permit. But you're not gonna need to permit to drywall work and put some insulation up there. So it's kind of kind of dependent project dependent.
[00:07:35] Paul: So let's We're talking about attic remodels. And you know, that's even one thing we've considered for our own house. I mean, what what can you tell us about that talk a little bit about. Is it something easy to do? Is that you know what are the one of the ups and downs, I guess, about remodeling your attic
[00:07:50] Greg: ups and downs of remodeling an addict. I think people sometimes kind of forget about the amount of work that it's really going to take to get access to space if you've got your attic. If it's new construction and you've got the ability, thio easily get your materials to the space. You know there's certainly a lot less effort, a lot less risk risking that I'm carrying materials through your home to get it to your addict. I'm carrying it past your banister up your carpet across your wood floors, and it just slows the process down.
[00:08:22] Paul: That makes sense.
[00:08:23] Greg: So and then if it's a lot of space, is, you know, maybe aren't set up right? May need modification, so you have to spend all this energy to just get it where you want it to be, so that you can start putting it back together like you're trying to. You
[00:08:41] Paul: have spaces
[00:08:42] Greg: that need to be modified first. Yeah, walls built, which if it was a new construction, it could have been done originally. It ends up being just more expense. Yeah, to get into a restoration process.
[00:08:54] Paul: Okay. I mean, that makes sense. There's a lot more, you know, especially if you don't have the like, you're saying the openings or cut some big portions of the wall ceilings out there. Thio. It's like if I
[00:09:04] Greg: do tile work in the bathroom on the third floor e have to have my saw outside because it's a wet Saul. If it was maybe a new construction, I might be able to have saw closer. So imagine running up and down steps, you know, cut all the tile. Same thing with plumbing. If all the walls have closed up below, you know, I've got to open those walls up and then put them back together.
[00:09:26] Paul: Yeah, yeah, so that adds expense. Let's talk a little bit about do it yourself home improvements, and a lot of homeowners do have the skills and their those who don't want I mean, is there. I guess there's no really measure. You can't measure anybody else's skills, but I mean, what do you think they're you know is doable verse for a individual homeowner, I mean some simple things like, you know, changing a light bulb. And that's an easy thing, but framing work and stuff of that, most of that work is, you know, usually requires a professional to cut the ball and, uh, refit the door and stuff like that. Yeah, Homeowners get themselves tied up, I
[00:10:02] Greg: think a lot in over commitment. Everybody works. I should say most people work full time job, have kids, husband, wife come home at the end of day. And they think they're gonna grab hold of a project and renovate the basement with limited skill sets while they might know how to use the skill saw doesn't necessarily mean that they know how to build the wall. And all too often I'll end up coming in and finishing up so much project, and, you know, quite honestly have to take half of the part because it wasn't done done correctly. I wonder if we can get into because a lot of these ah, lot of what you're asking me goes into the side of consulting that I do.
[00:10:46] Paul: Okay. Yeah. Let's let's talk about that. And Yeah, come
[00:10:49] Greg: in and help you figure out what it is you need I have the experience as a contractor, and I could bring that experience to the table and guide you through step by step, of what you need to do to do your project. Those tricks of the trade tell you what to go rent?
[00:11:07] Paul: Yes. So you bring you bring to the table. Basically, uh, you know, uh, years of experience and then you're you're going into somebody's house on either consulting. You know them on how to do the work or giving a second opinion. Basically, like you always get a second opinion on somebody else doing
[00:11:23] Greg: the work. You asked me about your project, okay? You just don't know. So, you know, I could come in. And if this is something that you want to accomplish by yourself, you know, you can engage me to be a consultant for you or homeowner advocate, and I can come out. I could tell you kind of what the steps are. Okay, if if you feel like you wanna hire your own electrician's you know I'm happy, Thio, help you review and help you understand what you're looking at. Estimate. Okay. So you could get your two or three estimates. You know there are Resource is out there to kind of look to see how a company is performing. Are they reliable on? So, you know, I can guide the homeowner through the steps to do it themselves. I can share with homeowner tips and tricks to getting the job done. Right. Uh, I'm not going to come in and do it for you in a consulting role. I'm gonna help you get it done. And, you know, there is a significant savings that comes with that when you don't have a professional, come in and do that work for you. But, you know, the homeowner is gonna have to understand that, you know, are you willing to accept maybe work that is not as quality, that well done? Because the lack of expertise
[00:12:38] Paul: there's a trade off? Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And I think that's ah, it's a pretty valuable service to offer to people. I mean, oftentimes, I mean, sat down and spoken with the home inspector before, and they're they're more kind of like, you know, let's look at the house. They do a new construction inspection as well. Or let's look at the house and see what's what's going wrong with it. And here you're kind of you can come during the process during the new you construction as well, too, I presume. And give all the advice and the input. You know, x y z is missing or we need to Do you know ABC in orderto, you know, to get what the homeowner wants.
[00:13:12] Greg: You know, homeowner buying a new home, new to them, and they call it for a whole house inspection. Yes. And the whole house inspection is an independent, non biased party that comes in and reviews on home and identifies things that are out of order. Okay. And when you read through that inspection, the very last line in each of those items that they're finding is that you may wish to have a professional provide you an estimate for this. So here you have 27 page report and you're not a contractor. You're not electricity. You don't know what you're looking at. You don't know how much is going to cost. Fix all this and during the time frame of when you get in. Esther, when you get a ah whole house inspection report back and the time that you need to make a decision on what you're gonna do put in an offer on a home is pretty compressed. Yes. So, what do you do? How do you know how much it's gonna cost to fix all this stuff?
[00:14:13] Paul: I know. That's actually a great perspective that, you know, you tell them, you know, Not only that, you're kind of going beyond the whole inspection. You're giving an idea. You know, this is this is what your costs are gonna be. This is how much time it might take and how much damage it might cost. Yeah,
[00:14:26] Greg: So, you know, where do you go to? Somebody says The inspector says there's termite damage to the floor voice. Well, who you gonna call to find out how things that and how much it's gonna cost. And you have 10 days to to figure this out. So I go into people's homes and help them sort through this and give them some idea of what some unexpected costs can be And what some of the surprises that behind the walls that you know, people might not think about. Except the inspector is gonna just tell you What? What they see? Yes. So I'm gonna give you a little bit of insight on, too. Well, here's what we see. But my past experiences Tell me when we open this up, there's more damage there than you're actually seeing.
[00:15:10] Paul: Actually, that Z Probably pretty valuable service. Just, you know, you get a better idea of costs and but already of, you know, how much time is involved. I mean, a lot of people, one house that's ready, you know, the instant they move in, they don't want to do too much work on it unless they're getting some sort of deal out
[00:15:26] Greg: of it. Right? I had a customer who found me, had a pretty fair budget. Thio do a renovation on a home that had over the last 130 years had five small editions that were, for the most part, just cobbled together the home. It's a bright little home. It needs new windows, It needs new doors. It needs significant foundation work. It needs a new roof gutters. New furnace. You know, they had a fair budget. My first question them is Why do you wanna put this kind of money into this house? they love the house. So we went through the process of in due diligence with architect exploring new floor plans. I did extensive estimates to, you know, see how much all these new new changes we're going to be. And as much as they didn't want to because they felt that they a za Muchas they wanted to keep that house intact. They finally realized that it's just throwing good money. Bad. Yeah, you know. So they canceled the project. They're gonna live with things the way they are for a little while, and they're going to start talking about building a house. Okay, It's like, Why spend a half a million dollars restoring a home that is pretty broken down when you can spend $700,000 and have a brand new house?
[00:16:53] Paul: Yeah, there's a lot, a lot of savings to be getting there, depending on you know what they want to get done. Let's talk about you mentioned new construction, you home. Let's talk a little bit about that. I mean, you've built new homes before, Correct? What kind of timeframes are people looking on a new construction? You know, Let's say I'm the buyer. I bought the land come to you. And you know, we'll start talking to you. Refer me to an architect or if you know, if I haven't planned already. You know, we're gonna build this home. What's what? Time frame Are we looking at there?
[00:17:24] Greg: Realistic timeframe from the very beginning of the process to moving in a zoo. Muchas. Everybody wants to think it could be done in six months. It's realistic, I think is probably about a year. Okay. People are busy working. They can't get the decisions made because you know, the other priorities of taking care of kids and vacations. Uh, also timing the season don't necessarily want to start digging a foundation in November December just because you end up in the winter months. Yeah, it's difficult, time consuming work in. So, uh, the overall time, friends, it was 12. 18 months.
[00:18:06] Paul: Okay, So the process we already discussed a little bit. I mentioned you know, an architect. And what exactly does an architect do? And you know, you're not architect, obviously. But you know, from your perspective, how do you interact with the architect and what you know in terms of let's say they throw the plans together. And what do you What do you do from there?
[00:18:24] Greg: So I'm gonna bring an architect into the project when there's an addition or significant interior renovation. And what's neat about partnering with the architect in the very beginning of the project is the ability to help control the budget. Okay, An architect will design whatever you asked them to design. And there comes the disadvantage for the homeowner. Because now I'm owner doesn't necessarily know what the costs are. No disrespect to the architect, but there's also some issues with them. Maybe not knowing and realizing some of the costs that are going to be the bill. Yeah, uh, So if I bring in an architect and the customer on the builder, all the same table kind of the string and they're kind of the balloon, they're gonna need both to work together. That's true. So kind of rain, things back in so that the project that we end up building in the end or designing in the end, is within a targeted budget. All too often, the homeowner will come to me with a set of plans. And you know, I can pretty much so look at it and say, you know, wow, this is it an expensive renovation? Now Motor doesn't have any idea of what it is actually going to cost. And here is their dream plan. Yeah, for their home. And it's twice what they can afford. There's a lot of expense, a lot of energy and a lot of emotion that, you know, is wasted having to come through the whole process. Let's get it right the first time.
[00:19:58] Paul: Yeah, yeah, that is the home. Buying and selling is a very emotional process, so I could see the issues that arise out of that. Just let's briefly talk about, you know, contractors in general. I mean, you know, your I found you through Angie's list. I know a lot of contractors Listen through Angie's list. I've heard horror stories from friends, you know, They pick somebody off Craigslist and suddenly the bills rising, you know, unanticipated work. I mean, you have any tips or advice on how toe how to get the best contractor for you do your
[00:20:28] Greg: research. Certainly through the Internet, I think referrals finding contractor that has worked for a friend of yours, somebody that you know from your work. And what is their experience? Been with that person? Yeah, the whole contractors thing is you know, who can you trust?
[00:20:48] Paul: Yeah, insurance. I'm shooting insurance. Your insert a swell. And you've probably got an umbrella policy or Yeah,
[00:20:54] Greg: I carry liability insurance. And I certainly give that copy that on the bigger projects to the homeowners, which covers me and my subcontractors, my subcontractors, you know, have their own insurance policies. But for small general contractor, the insurance policies that I have covers the uninsured subcontractors.
[00:21:19] Paul: All right, that's that's all the questions I have for you today. And Greg, I appreciate you coming out. Did you have any final words you wanted to share?
[00:21:25] Greg: Just appreciate your time. And thank you for having me out on. Look forward, Thio, answer any questions If you come up with anything in the future,
[00:21:33] Paul: Okay, Great. Thank you.