Tamara tells-all, sharing her kitchen remodeling experience with Riverside Construction
Q: What prompted the need for your kitchen remodel?
A: Our home is located in West Lafayette near Purdue University. When we bought it, it had been used as a rental so we knew it needed work.
As a 1950s home, it needed a lot of updates and also is smaller in size—approximately 900 sf on the first floor, where the kitchen and living room is. With the two levels, it’s roughly 1,800 sf. As a dated home, the kitchen was designed in a closed-in space. I wanted to open it up and create more livable space. Our house is also a split-level. I had visions of tearing out a wall, opening it up to the backyard and adding a large island.
Kelly put my ideas to paper, and the results were amazing!
Q: You started your remodel during Covid-19. How did the pandemic alter your remodeling plans? Did your functional needs change in any way?
A: Yes, I believe we were one of the first of Riverside clients to start construction after the COVID quarantine. They started construction in April and ended in June.
Our kids were in college at the time, so it was just my husband and I in the house. We also moved a temporary kitchen downstairs, so we had a place to be while the workers were in the house. We always felt safe. Everyone was cautious. We kept clear from the workers most of the time, and there was always enough space to separate ourselves from each other. Riverside was also good about working quickly.
Q: Can you speak to safety protocols during construction? Did you and your family feel safe?
A: When construction started, we weren’t issued mask mandates (we still weren’t sure), so the crew wasn’t wearing masks. As we followed health updates, we all adapted. Then, I noticed the workers started to wear masks on site.
From the beginning, we made an effort to be distanced from each other, which felt smarter. We made it a point to not be in each other’s spaces. We also had meetings outside for added protection.
Aside from COVID, Riverside was good about locking up our home and securing the job site. Our team leads, Juan and Amos, were amazing—and felt like family. Amos could have been my husband’s brother based on how close they were.
Q: What concern(s) did you have going into your home remodeling project?
A: My biggest concern was finances. I talked to Andy two years ago. He advised me to pay down my loan and then refinance my mortgage to get the money I needed to invest in my house. I was basically trying to get enough equity built up. I came back two years later—I refinanced and got a one-year loan that I’m now paying off.
I didn’t worry about anything else. Our project came out exactly as I envisioned.
Q: What was a favorite part of your remodeling experience with Riverside Construction? Why?
A: Hands down the people at Riverside Construction. The employees are fun and very professional. They aren’t just about business. The workers would stop and talk to us. We got to know Amos—his personality, family and background. Everyone at Riverside really want us to be happy with our remodel, but they also want to build a relationship with their clients as well. And, Andy allows them to do that.
This may not be important to everyone, but it was really important to me. I think it’s a great way to run a business. It’s not just a job to these people. It’s actually something they enjoy, which carries over into their customer service. It’s a great business model and good for our community.
Now, I won’t use a remodeling company other than Riverside Construction. I won’t even request a quote from another company if we remodel again. Riverside is our only choice. It’s going to be them for now on. They are more expensive, but I’ don’t care. They are worth it.
Q: What was your least favorite part of the remodel? Why?
A: Waiting 10 days for the granite. During this particular time during the remodel, we were almost finished. Everything but the countertops were installed. The kitchen looked beautiful, but it wasn’t yet functional. The lag time between when the granite got measured and when it got put in was tough. We were excited to use the new kitchen, but had to keep using the temporary kitchen until the countertops were installed.
Q: After living in your newly remodeled space, what has become your favorite design feature?
A: The kitchen used to be dark, dingy and old. Now that it’s more open and inviting, we’re in this area all of the time and not sequestered in our rooms.
I am now working from home. They put electricity in the island, so I sit here on the island to work.
I hate Lazy Susans, but Andy convinced me to let him put one in that he said I would love. He was right. I love it!
You know, we don’t know everything. It was great working with a professional who could offer suggestions and help me decide what was good for me. I didn’t want to make all of those tough decisions. Riverside was great!
[Laughing] When they asked me initially, “What’s your design style?” I answered, “functional!”
Q: What was your inspiration behind the new larger window?
A: I wanted to be able to look out to the woods in our backyard—bring the outside in.
Q: Were there any big surprises during or after the remodel that caught you off guard?
A: The sticker shock. I was surprised how expensive it really is to remodel.
Q: Any pleasant surprises?
A: Although this was nothing, the only thing they did wrong was buy the incorrect light fixture. It didn’t look right in the space, and they agreed. I thought I was going to be charged for a new fixture, but that is not what happened. I was asked to pick out a new light fixture, and they took care of the rest.
Q: In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently if you were to remodel again?
A: I would have done more if I had more money, like the whole living room area.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: When I was searching for a remodeling company to work with, I wanted a reputable company that I could hold to task. I didn’t want someone who waltzed in once and awhile.
Riverside is very professional, while at the same time incredibly humble, fun, enjoyable, and easy to work with. That fabulous combination starts with owner and filters down. Not every person was perfect. But, Juan, Amos and Ben are literally amazing individuals—salt of the earth people who would give their shirts off their backs. We all got along so well.
If anyone is going into this for the first time, they need to understand that it’s a lengthy process. It’s important especially for a design-build company like Riverside that might be busier. I reached out in January and we were finished in June, which actually didn’t take too long at all.