There's a reason that renovation shows are so popular on home-improvement channels like TLC. A LOT of homeowners have dreams of building the home of their dreams.
But TV shows often squeeze months of renovation work into a single hour. Many of the day-to-day renovation details are not shown. Taking on a renovation project is one of the most rewarding experiences you can complete as a homeowner. But it is also one of the most misunderstood and underestimated projects you will take on.
Here are the top 10 things we wish every home owner knew before starting a renovation project:
1. Know the project will likely push you out of your comfort zone... And your routine will be changed
The renovation project begins and everyone is thrilled! Soon, you will have the kitchen or bathroom you've always dreamed about. But keep in mind that when the project is in full swing, the renovation will likely to disrupt your daily routine. Whenever you're working on a project in a home you inhabit, you may need to take a step outside of your comfort zone. Especially if the renovation is in a room you spend a good deal of time in.
Sometimes, plumbing, electric, and other utilities will need to be turned off for safety or for additional work to be completed. That means you may need to make alternate shower plans, or live without your stove for a while.
Remember that the end result is always worth it, but plan to shower at the gym or live off of microwave goods during the duration of your project. A knowledgeable renovation expert will help you set reasonable expectations about appliances and areas you may not have access to during the project, so you can plan ahead.
2. Know the scope of work you want done and indicate what MUST be done with what you WANT to have done
It's one thing to decide you want to upgrade a room. It's another beast entirely to scope your project. That's why it's a good idea to make a realistic list of things that MUST be done, versus things you WANT to be done.
For example, in older houses, it may be necessary to upgrade electrical wiring, or make structural changes. These are things that MUST be done for everyone's safety. Sometimes that means you may need to sacrifice one or two things that you want. As with any home project, consulting with an expert can help you balance everything you want with everything you need to have a safe, successful project that will withstand the years.
3. Know your material list and budget for fixtures
There is nothing worse than making twelve separate trips to the local hardware store for all of the little things (like cabinet pulls, light switch covers, hardware, and interior design accents). Make a complete list of materials you need from structural materials, to hardware, to decorative flair. Why? Having your materials organized and accessible will make your project run 10x smoother.
4. Know your timeline from beginning to end
Every renovation project should have a realistic and reasonable timeline. Why? Because as we mentioned in tip #1, your routine is likely to change for the duration of the project. Take a look at your usual weekly calendar. How much time can you dedicate during the week to your project? Is there a dedicated weekend day where you can work? Setting goals for tasks to be complete can help you move your project along at a safe and efficient pace. Just make sure you leave time for speed bumps...
If you're working with a trusted renovation partner, they will help you determine how long your type of project usually takes, and set expectations about potential timeline delays.
5. Know your budget
The reality is that our imaginations are usually much bigger than our budget. That's why it's crucial to know exactly how much money you have available for the project. First, determine what you are approved to spend. If you're taking out a loan for your project, it's a good idea to save at least 5% of your budget for wiggle room, extras, and unknowns. If you're using your savings to complete the project, determine how much you are willing to spend, and try not to go over it. Remember that a successful project will often require you to balance what you NEED versus what you WANT.
Not sure where to start? Schedule your free renovation consultation today!
6. Know there will be unknowns
It's every homeowner's nightmare: you begin a renovation project and you discover the worst. It could be water damage. Or mold. It could be foundation issues. Sometimes you discover your wiring is out of code. Set expectations for yourself that the project may not be a walk in the park. But it makes the end result that much sweeter. And remember that addressing each setback is an opportunity to make your home better, safer, and more valuable.
7. Know you will need to set weekly progress meetings
Weekly project meetings serve a dual purpose. First, they allow you to stay up to date on the project progress, timeline, and budget. Second, they allow you to participate in the process. The company you select will become your partner in the project, and it's important that everyone is on the same page.
8. Know you will have to choose the right partner
Choosing the right renovation partner is just as important as choosing the right home to buy. Many partners will lure you in with speedy timelines, flashy websites, low-low prices, or salesy pitches. Be wary. The cheapest option is not always the best. Make sure that you choose someone that sets realistic expectations with you about the timeline, costs, possible unknowns, and how to balance your WANTS and NEEDS. Ask to see before-and-after pictures. Read reviews. And most importantly, choose a partner with a combination of experience and professionalism. It means the difference between a beautiful, finished project within your budget, and a renovation nightmare.
9. Know when to take advice and when not to
We've all heard it before: the neighbor down the street chose X company, and all of the sudden, her entire kitchen is in shambles, the project is taking three times longer than quoted, and she didn't get the cabinet pulls she wanted. This is a very real nightmare for homeowners that do not choose the right renovation partner. However, keep in mind that every home is unique. And every project is unique. Your renovation experience may not be the same as another's.
Friends and family are wonderful support systems, but they are not always renovation experts. Always consult an expert for advice. An experienced partner will have seen it all and will help you come up with a plan.
10. Know you will LOVE it when it's done.
There is nothing better than the first full day your renovation is complete. You can run your fingertips down your new marble counter tops, or enjoy a glorious bath in your brand new tub. While a renovation project is a big commitment of your time and money, the end result is always worth it. You will LOVE making memories in your new and improved space.