What You Should Know Before Starting a Home Renovation

Home renovation is something every homeowner contemplates at least once or twice. Many times, owners fail to act due to the seemingly complicated, involved steps they believe a renovation would demand.

Even for seasoned renovators, each project presents its own twists and setbacks. Most people fail to examine their budget and current space to work with beforehand. Without getting your ducks in a row ahead of time, your project could fall seriously off track, taking up more time and expense—but we’re here to help! Here are five things you should know before home renovation…

  1. Where your budget lies

Keep in mind that your first proposed budget will likely fluctuate. It might be helpful to get an itemized estimate to help determine your target figure, as seeing the numbers in real time will help you determine your musts versus your maybes. For example, after noting the five-digit figure for those granite countertops, you might decide to go with energy-efficient windows instead. No idea how to start creating a budget? Try using a service such as Mint to get a better picture of your finances. Experts also recommend tacking on an extra 20 percent to the total budget for any issues that arise—and trust us, these are inevitable. If you’re really serious about renovating, don’t settle on a cheaper contractor bid or less expensive materials just to start sooner or quicken the process. Carefully consider how much you are willing to put into your updated home.

2. Finding a contractor will take time

It won’t be hard to find an estimate on the renovation, but to find a trustworthy contractor, you should go through a thorough vetting process. There are many questions to ask when deciding on a contractor—do they have references? Are they good at keeping in communication? Are they insured? There’s nothing worse than having an accident and then discovering your contractor has zero insurance. Make sure that you conduct interviews and ask for photos or videos of previous renovations your potential contractor has completed. The right one will have no problem showing you and waiting while you continue to ask friends, family, and scour the internet for references. To simplify the process, consider using a company that helps you hire a contractor; detailed search capabilities make it easier to hire a professional who has already been vetted for professionalism and quality work.

3. Build for the future and ignore trends

Trends come and go, and are better suited for decorating and accessorizing a space. For home renovation, a good rule of thumb is to always lean toward a classic style. Many home owners tend to focus more on the “fashionable” side of renovation—the part that comes after the hard work is done. Think long-term, particularly if your current house is 1) somewhere you’ll be living for years to come, and 2) in need of added value. It would be frustrating to have to renovate your entire kitchen again in 5-10 years’ time because you failed to invest in basic, durable appliances in favor of the stylish sink you wanted. Remember that in the world of home renovation, the word “trendy” is essentially synonymous with “short-term”.

4. Agree on payment before you touch a sledgehammer

Never pay in full and never pay up front. As you discuss a timeline with your contractor, also incorporate a pay structure into your agreement—find a contractor that agrees to receive full payment only after you’ve signed off on the project’s completion. Experts warn that any contractor who tries to swindle you into paying up front and/or in full, is most likely trying to scam you. If you agree to a down payment, a good rule of thumb is one-third of the total bid. After the initial down payment, only pay your final remaining balance after work is completed and you find everything to your satisfaction. Always, always make sure everything—including total cost and payment method—is written in a formal contract.

5. Overall, patience is key

After the months you’ve spent researching, conducting interviewing, and finalizing a budget, it’s time to begin the actual renovation work—an often lengthy, trying process. If you live in the space you’re renovating, the constant construction can quickly become annoying. Accidents may happen, deadlines may need to be pushed back, and you will more often than not be inconvenienced. It’s important to keep cool and collected; remain calm patient and keep that end vision you dreamed of in mind. The day will come when your patience pays off and you’ll be able to enjoy the final results of your beautiful home in peace and comfort.

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