Spaces for life: Mythbusting the northeast Johnson County home construction scene


Conventional wisdom says bringing an architect on to a project ups the budget big-time. Not necessarily so, says Lance McCarthy.
Conventional wisdom says bringing an architect on to a project ups the budget big-time. Not necessarily so, says Lance McCarthy.


By Lance McCarthy

Mythbusters: I love that show. Would a penny dropped from the Empire State building really kill you? Can you build a motorcycle out of a potato and some hairpins? (Wait..that last one was MacGyver…)

Construction and remodeling has a lot of myths, too — ideas or practices that are assumed to be common knowledge. I thought it might be fun to tackle some of those today.

Note: The column is short, so don’t expect a detailed backstory. Just short and sweet: State the “myth”, then give you the straight dope. I’ll link to a longer explanation for the rare person who is interested.

Lead paint is dangerous. Is it cheating to start a column on mythbusters with a true one? Lead paint is dangerous when it is peeling, cut, sanded or torn out, especially for children. The good news is, there are very safe ways to handle it, and the EPA gives a lot of helpful information.

A crack in my foundation is really bad. Not necessarily. In fact, it is probably just proof you live in Prairie Village. Have an engineer look at it (before you call the foundation repair company!), but they will usually just tell you to fix your gutter, slope the soil, and water your foundation. (Yes, you read that right. Check it out…)

I should figure on twice the budget my contractor quotes to me. Total myth…although if you believe this one, please call me right away and I will figure out a project we can do on your house for twice my quote! The secret is to build the project completely on paper before you sign a contract.

Replacing my windows is very helpful in energy savings. Actually, usually not. Asterisk here. There are usually actions you could take with your home that would cost a lot less and have a lot greater effect on your energy consumption.

I should remodel my kitchen because we are getting ready to sell. Myth. There are exceptions, but recent stats put the average kitchen renovation return on investment at only 66 percent. Put the money in a new front door and a new kitchen faucet where the first impression is strongest.

Using an architect adds big bucks to a project. This depends on how they are involved. Architects should be a part of every major project, but only in collaboration with someone who is “protector of the budget.” This frees them to work in their strength: envisioning space and creating solutions.

Radon is bad in this area. Actually true. An estimated one in five houses in the metro area has dangerous levels of radon. You probably won’t turn into a zombie or grow a second head, but the effects can be seriously harmful over time. The good news: You can get a great $15 test kit through K-State.

Ok, so how did you do? Hopefully I surprised you on a couple of those. Don’t miss next Thursday. We’ll start a “how much does a ______ cost?” series. Kitchens, baths, additions, decks…You’ve Googled these questions before. Now let’s see if we can give some real answers.

This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.

A video from ReTouch