About 61% of homeowners have taken on home improvement projects since March 2020. Many of these projects were borne out of more time spent at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
When you own a home, some home improvement projects will be inevitable. Whether your home renovation project is planned or not, it’s best to prepare yourself for the process before getting started.
If you’ve recently decided to improve or renovate your home, keep reading for what you must know before you start.
1. Plan Ahead
You shouldn’t begin any project without a clear plan first. To boost creativity and influence ideas, you must do your research.
Understanding the expected costs, your budget, goals, and everything in between will help you comprehend the bigger picture and assist in preventing any issues.
Before you begin finalizing material selections and designs, you should understand exactly where you’re spending money and what you’ll get out of it.
Many renovation projects begin without the owner considering the long-term future. If there’s a chance you’ll live in your current home for the rest of your life, ensure you’re making an investment that continually offers returns. For example, if you think you might need more space in the future, you might expand your kitchen, finish your basement, or convert your garage into a living space.
Remodeling is a significant investment, so plan it in a way that pays off.
2. Define Your Style
With so many finishes, colors, lighting, materials, and products to choose from, you might want to consider working with a design professional.
If you’re renovating multiple rooms, you’ll have to consider multiple selections. Even if you think you know what you like, you might find it difficult to make decisions when attempting to create a cohesive look.
Many people enjoy the planning and design phase of a renovation plan, while some feel stressed. It’s crucial to define your style, likes, dislikes, and favorite colors before hiring a designer or contractor.
3. Set a Budget
It’s easy to dream big when taking on a home renovation project—you’ll want to go all-out. However, it would help if you were realistic with yourself. The first step is knowing what items cost and what you can afford.
As you craft your budget, allow room for unexpected costs. More likely than not, surprises will come up. You should save up to 20% of your budget for these expenses.
When setting your budget, there are a few things you can do to remain realistic.
First, visit a few department stores and check out the prices of pieces you like. This will help you get a feel for what your project may cost. Try to envision your space with items that fit within your budget but still provide the feel you’re trying to achieve.
It’s vital not to confuse reality home renovation television shows with real life. What you see on television isn’t a fair judgment of how much a home reno will cost. Many products in remodeling shows are available to the homeowners at a reduced cost or provided by sponsors. The final renovation costs can be misleading—especially when considering higher-end items.
Before starting a renovation project, call around to get estimates from a few different contractors. Make sure these estimates are specific to projects. For example, if you need a new water heater, ask for an estimate or two for its replacement.
If you plan to spend big in one area of your project, try to budget more consciously in another. So, if you want a granite kitchen island, consider spending less money on an oven hood or sink fixture.
You can offset your budget by selling some of the older items in your house that you’ll be replacing. If you’re replacing kitchen cabinets that are still in good shape but don’t match your vision, consider selling them for extra cash.
4. Develop a System for Saving Receipts
Home renovation expenses can add up quickly, so it’s essential to keep track of every dollar. Another good habit to get into is saving your receipts, which will benefit you in several ways.
First, you’ll likely buy items that you don’t use. Saving your receipts will make it easier to return these items without hassle (and get your money back).
Next, receipts allow you to track where your money goes clearly.
Remodeling your home will increase its value. If you’re planning to sell it in the future, you can deduct your renovation expenses from the sale’s profit. You can save thousands in taxes by doing this. For example, if your renovation expenses are $20,000 and you sell the home for a $70,000 profit, you will only be responsible for taxes on a $50,000 profit.
5. Research Before Hiring a Team
While you may prefer a DIY approach, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can tackle an entire renovation on your own. However, don’t hire a team out of thin air. The contractor you choose can make or break your home renovation project.
When selecting a contractor or team, ensure that they’re easy to contact and share your vision for the house. Also, check the following qualifications to ensure that they’re financially accountable:
- Insurance certificate
- Bond number
- Lien history
You’ll save yourself time, money, and a headache if you vet your team before trusting them with the remodel of your house.
Another good way to check a contractor’s qualifications is to look for online reviews. Even better, find someone local who can share their remodeling experience with the team you’re considering.
6. Create Specific Steps
When remodeling a home, there are certain steps to follow that will help you remain organized throughout the process. Consider the following approach:
- Demo or remove everything from the house and clean the space to prepare for remodeling
- Focus on exterior repairs before doing anything inside of the house (i.e., fix the roof, foundation, and windows first)
- Replace old plumbing before beginning a new project
- Make sure the HVAC, electrical, and lighting runs appropriately
- Add drywall after demoing walls
- Add a fresh coat of paint to walls, ceilings, trim, doors, and baseboards
- Install flooring and baseboards
- Add doors, vanities, toilets, tubs, cabinets, shelves, etc. (and consider additional storage)
- Hang backsplashes or wall features
- Install appliances and necessary hardware
- Clean the space thoroughly
- Bring in personal belongings and decorate
Having a clear outline of your project will make the entire renovation seem less daunting—and it feels terrific to check items off of a list!
7. Expect Disruptions to Your Daily Routine
Remodeling a home can be physically and emotionally exhausting. However, if you keep the end goal in mind, you’ll be more likely to stay positive when there are bumps in the road.
It’s essential to understand from the beginning that a renovation will turn your family’s daily routine upside down. In most cases, you’ll spend most of your free time working on your house or managing the team you hire. Expect to spend a significant amount of time in department stores, on the phone with contractors, or chasing permits.
You’ll see even more disruption to both work and leisure routines if you live in your home during remodeling. Prepare yourself for the following:
- You may have to live without a bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen for a few weeks
- You may not have power 100% of the time
- You can’t shower or use the bathroom if the water is shut off
- You may have to order out frequently without working appliances
- When replacing windows or painting, you may need to stay in your home without curtains or blinds for privacy
If you’re prepared for each of these things, you’ll feel less stress when something goes awry.
8. Don’t Let the Mess Bother You
A home renovation project gets very messy from day one. It will likely remain messy until the very end of the project. Imagine dust and dirt on every inch of your house—covering the walls, ceiling, and floors. There will be trash and nails at every turn.
Cleaning as you go can help, but it won’t entirely eliminate the mess. You can make several trips to the dumpster or consider Mobile Skips during your project to keep the level of trash at a minimum.
The mess can become unbearable if you live in your home during the renovation. So try to keep your sleeping and living areas as clean as you can. However, try not to let the mess bother you because you can’t expect a remodeling site to remain completely clean.
If the thought of living in a messy house bothers you, consider staying with a friend or family member during the remodel. If you expect it to take a few months, you can also rent a place in the interim.
9. Prepare for the Last 1%
For one reason or another, there’s usually an aspect of every home renovation project that can’t be completed promptly. For example, you can’t measure shower glass before a contractor lays the tile—and the tile goes in last. Ordering shower glass usually calls for lead time, so there will be a point where nothing is happening in your renovation project. Everyone is waiting for the glass to arrive so they can install it.
In other words, always expect the unexpected.
At the end of your home renovation project, there will inevitably be one or two tasks that will take longer to resolve than anything else, whether it’s a light fixture repair or new shower tile. It’s essential to get these details right, even if they take longer than expected.
It’s possible that you can cause your own project delays. This could happen if you change your mind midway through a project or decide that you want to do something differently.
While changing your mind will delay your project, it’s essential to get what you want the first time around.
Mother nature doesn’t care about your remodeling plans. Weather changes can and will have a significant impact on renovation timelines. For example, a rainy day will delay paint from drying and derail outdoor projects.
Sometimes you will need to rent tools that aren’t readily available to complete specific jobs. This is more likely to happen if you’re completing a project on your own, but inevitable for larger projects nonetheless.
You’ll also have to consider supply chain demands and delays that are out of your control.
While you can’t foresee what you don’t know, surprises don’t have to derail your project. Always budget extra money, time, and patients for your reno, and you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.
If you go over budget, you may have to put parts of your project on the back burner until you save some more cash.
10. Nothing Is Perfect
Home renovations can be a lot like art. You will be most critical of your own project, and you’ll likely notice issues that no one else will see. Set your expectations for the beginning that there will be errors made that only you are aware of.
No matter how hard you strive for perfection, there will always be a detail you wish had turned out differently. Prepare yourself to accept that nothing is perfect so you can truly enjoy your renovated home.
Planning a Home Renovation the Smart Way
Taking on a home renovation is a significant, expensive, and time-consuming project. If you’re prepared and follow specific steps during the process, you’ll have a much better experience.
Use the insights and suggestions in this article to plan and guide your home revocation project, and you’ll set yourself up for success.
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