Does your bathroom need a facelift or are you looking to remodel your kitchen? A home renovation project of any size can cost a lot of money and time. The thought of going through a renovation can be daunting, especially if you’re a first-time renovator.
We asked home renovation experts to give us their best tips and tricks to ensure your first home renovation goes smoothly.
1. Stay Organized Throughout the Process
When your home turns into a construction zone, it’s important to keep everything organized. Well before you start your project, you should sit down and plan your renovations. Dan Meyer, Co-Founder of Pocketdoor, which helps homeowners renovate and improve their homes, says to stay organized during the renovation process. Meyer encourages renovators to make a list of all of the options they’re considering.
You should also write up a list of all of the materials you’ll need for your renovation. Start with a master list to brainstorm every material, product or tool you might need to complete your ideal renovation. You can edit this list as you finalize your plans. Just be sure you have a final plan and materials list in place before you start drilling.
Staying organized is also important after the renovations are finished. John Bodrozic, Co-Founder of HomeZada, a home renovation management tool, says that keeping receipts, pictures of the renovation and copies or warranties is essential to getting the most out of your renovation.
Knowing the warranty of new appliances, for example, could help you repair or replace a faulty unit that goes out after a couple of years. Information about the remodel and warranty information can also be given to potential buyers if you decide to sell the home.
2. Test Materials Before Committing
No one wants to spend a small fortune replacing the carpet in multiple bedrooms only to have the final product end up being too dark.
“Always remember that carpet looks 10-15% darker on the floor and to view the selection as it is applied,” says Kim Depole, Creative Director of Depole Design. Carpet, in particular, Depole warns, should always be viewed on the floor. You shouldn’t buy carpet from counter height or only use a tiny square to assess the look and feel.
Depole, an interior designer, recommends testing all materials during a home renovation, not just carpet. Before you buy several gallons of paint or stain, make sure to test the color and texture in the room you’re renovating.
This will give you a more accurate idea of the final look of the material throughout a normal day. Something that may look fine in the morning sun may be too dark in the evening. If it’s not the right fit, you’re only out a few bucks instead of several hundred or thousand.
3. Research Products and Set a Budget
Use your master list of materials and products to research specific products and brands. Consider the price, quality and look of each material or product. This will help you set a realistic budget. Bodrozic mentions you should look at a price range when considering different features and fixtures.
“As an example, a kitchen remodel has at least 4 or 5 different appliances. There is a big price difference between high end, moderate, and low-end brands for every product on your renovation which dramatically impacts your overall costs,” Bodrozic says.
As your research products, mark what you can realistically afford on your list. Decide if there are certain items on which you want to splurge. You might decide granite countertops are a must in your new kitchen but are willing to purchase a faux tile floor to offset the cost.
4. Stay Away from Trends
“Renovate for you. Don’t try to follow trends. What is trendy today will be old tomorrow,” is Meyer’s advice for home renovation design. That custom farmhouse island with an engraved rooster might seem rustically charming now, but remember that mustard-colored shag carpet was once in style. Always choose colors, fixtures and design elements that make you happy.
If you want to follow trends, use pieces that can easily be changed in the future. Instead of the custom country island, add farmhouse accents like a custom-engraved cutting board or farmhouse-inspired hand towels. These are easy, and inexpensive, to change out if you decide to go a different route in the future.
5. Don’t Splurge on Everything, But Don’t Buy Just Because It’s on Sale
There’s no reason to purchase only the most high-end fixtures and furniture. You can save some money by buying a mid-range furniture set and adding high-quality accent pieces. The cost of accents, like a couple of quality throw pillows, dress up the furniture but cost significantly less than top-range sofas.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t buy a certain material just because it’s on sale. When renovating a home, you need to remember that this is a long-term decision. Saving a couple of hundred dollars on the flooring could end up costing you more down the road if the materials wear out quickly. If you’re renovating a room with large appliances, like a laundry room or kitchen, be ready to spend a little more to get appliances that will last for years to come.
6. Don’t Rush the Process
“Never underestimate the time that is required and never rush the process. You will pay the price of a compromised installation,” says Depole. One of the things you’ll often see on design shows or in magazines is a time-lapse version of the process. Many television shows, for example, show a whole home renovation in a 30-minute episode.
In reality, your renovation may take weeks or months, depending on the project. If you’re working with a contractor, be sure to get a timeline of your project. Even with a timeline, however, you should be flexible during the renovation. Sometimes problems or unforeseen circumstances come up.
For example, you may plan to have a wall removed in your living room, but later learn the wall contains important electrical components that need to be rewired elsewhere. Setbacks like this are part of the process and come up often. A good contractor will be able to work with you to set a reasonable timeline and help you understand if it needs to change.
How a Home Renovation Affects Your Homeowners Insurance
Completing a home renovation might change the value of your home. You might need to increase your homeowners insurance coverage to protect your newest investment. Be sure to talk with your agent after completing a renovation to make sure you have ample coverage for your home.