Before you start your next renovation project, take note of these tips homeowners wish they had known or done before they started remodeling.
You know you want to renovate your house but don’t know where to start, right? Well, you’re not alone. Many homeowners dive into planning a home renovation with no clue of what to expect. It’s only after they suffer through renovation mishaps that they regret not having a plan. Without preparation, the home renovation process can be full of disappointments because, unlike building a new house, you aren’t starting with a blank slate. There can be unforeseen expenses and issues that make the process complex. So, before you go down the twists and turns of the renovation path, here are seven things you must know about where to start with renovating a house.
If you’re renovating your home before moving into it and live far away, consider investing in a key lockbox. You’ll need to hire a contractor if there are significant projects on your checklist that you can’t do yourself. Remember that contractors start early, so unless you want to drive in morning rush-hour traffic to let workers inside, plan to attach a lockbox or install smart door hardware that allows you to provide entry to guests with a code. It can save you countless hours, gallons of fuel, and painful, early morning wake-up calls.
As obvious as it might seem, it is essential to hold off on some decisions like paint colors, carpet, and light fixtures until you spend time in the space you’re renovating. For example, the choices can be overwhelming if you want to replace dated carpet. Dense or loose fibers? Striated or no pattern? What exact shade of gray? The answers depend on the other aspects of the renovation, like choosing paint colors.
If you select paint palettes before the renovation starts, you still need to see them on walls. Your decisions about colors could change as you spend time in the house. Also, freshly painted walls and new carpet can reveal that existing light fixtures don’t illuminate the space as you thought they would.
If you spend a little more time before painting and recarpeting to consider how everything works together in the room you’re remodeling, you can save several back-to-the-drawing-board moments.
Be Realistic About Your Timeline
Your renovation will take longer than expected, so be prepared when planning a home renovation and make accommodations to avoid frustration. For example, you might think that replacing a whirlpool tub and outdated double vanity in a bathroom will be quick. Removal of the old fixtures can take a few hours, but locating a new tub and vanity you love can take several weeks. It can be another two weeks before they’re delivered. An expectation of using your new hall bath within a week can turn into a six-week waiting period. Be realistic about the renovation process and timeline, and select your new updates before removing the existing materials.
Expect the Unexpected
All homes hold secrets—in the walls, under the floors, and elsewhere. A renovation can bring those to light.
For example, your contractor tells you your floors are uneven due to a shifted center joist while measuring for your highly anticipated new hardwood floors. You’ll need to deal with the home inspector who missed it and get the floor joist repaired before the new material can go down. This is just one possibility of the unexpected and why you should be planning for extra time during your renovation and extra money into your renovation budget to allow for unanticipated mishaps along the way.
Interview Multiple Contractors
It pays to interview multiple contractors and compare bids. Suppose you want your water heater removed from an upstairs closet and a new one installed in the garage. The first plumber you ask may say he plans to charge $6,000 and would reroute hot water lines, cutting into your living room tray ceiling. The second plumber may find it’s too much work for his schedule. Plumber three plans to finish the job in a day and charge $3,285 with no water line rerouting needed.
You risk paying too much and not getting what you want without interviewing multiple contractors. It pays to do your homework and talk to several experts before making a final decision.
Homeowners often want to know in what order they should renovate a house. It’s best to start with the kitchen because these remodels add significant value to your home. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2022 remodeling impact report, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover 75% of the cost of a complete kitchen renovation if they sell their home. Plus, if you have an outdated kitchen, upgrading the worn-out space will let you better enjoy the space while you’re home.
Practically speaking, you’ll want to do the kitchen remodel first because that work will create the most dust and debris, which you won’t want to land on new paint or finish jobs. It’s always a good idea to isolate any demolition mess by putting plastic over doorways or pass-throughs. Since an extensive kitchen remodel typically takes several months, you’ll want to set up a temporary substitute kitchen in your house’s dining room, family room, or another adjacent area.
Be Specific About Design Ideas
You’ll want to narrow your design preferences before meeting with an interior designer. Get inspiration from browsing home decorating magazines, interior decorating websites, and design shows. Getting a handle on a design direction will help you avoid being talked into a designer’s personal ideas, which might differ from your vision for the renovation.
Also, keep your designer strictly on your budget. Don’t allow them to purchase expensive materials and charge you for them later. If you try to stay within a specific time frame, your costs will remain low, too.