Home renovations are an exciting time for many homeowners, especially for a new homeowner eager to personalize their new house. It is easy to get overwhelmed when planning a renovation, but here are a few things to help turn it into a smooth process, with hopefully very few bumps along the way!
1. Research and plan
When you decide to renovate your house it’s never a good idea to just jump directly into knocking holes in walls- metaphorically or literally. Before any renovations are made, think of the past, present and future of your home.
For past considerations, be sure to understand the details of your house especially if the house is new to you. Learn what materials were used in the construction of your house. Consider what renovations have already been done because this can largely affect the extent of renovations you are capable of doing. For present considerations think of what type of material is safest, most durable for your lifestyle, and most cost effective. It is especially important to consider the future implications of your renovations. Sure a bright orange paint may be trendy right now, but will you still like that in two years time? Or if you ever plan to sell, how will that affect your resale value? Take a look at this example of a renovation and the past, present, and future considerations the owner made.
Jesse is planning a living area renovation. His 43 year old house currently has a closed concept floor plan and he is wanting to open the living room and kitchen for a more airy feeling.
Past considerations- He knows his home was built in 1978 and hasn’t had any major renovations. There is a high probability there may be asbestos present in the ceiling texture and kitchen tiles so plans will need to be in place to limit exposure. There is one wall with an existing doorway between the kitchen and the living room. This wall is load-bearing and also houses electric outlets, the water line for the refrigerator, and cabinets in the kitchen.
Present considerations- He is living in the home, but he does not have children and doesn’t mind living there while renovations are happening, so there isn’t a major time constraint. Even though he doesn’t have kids, he does have dogs so he would like to look for flooring material that is scratch and liquid resistant. He has a sizable savings so he doesn’t have to be tied down too much to a budget. He is aware that he should prep for unexpected costs. He doesn’t feel comfortable taking on a project this large so he wants to hire a licensed contractor to handle the project.
Future considerations- This is a pretty major renovation, but it is not an uncommon or “trendy” renovation that will become outdated easily. He will be losing cabinet space by knocking out the wall, so he is prepared for the need to figure out alternative storage if needed. He plans to use pretty neutral colors and styles in the design so it will be easy to adjust in the future.
With all of these considerations and more, Jesse has found a contractor who is willing to remove and dispose of asbestos material. With the help of the contractor, they crafted a design that allows them to remove half of the load bearing wall and turn that into a bar area. They will be able to create a beam frame to support the load, but this concept will allow a much more open feel to the living space. This will allow for the electrical outlets to stay in place, but they will need to redirect the water line for the refrigerator. They found a wood look plank that is scratch and water resistant, and it also has a nice variation in color in order to hide dirt spots from his dogs. They were able to work up an itemized budget well below his limit, with a designated overage amount for any unexpected expenses that may arise.
While this could technically be grouped in ‘Research and Plan’, it is extremely important and deserves it’s own attention. Renovation jobs can quickly become expensive and surpass your top budget. In your research and planning process, list the all materials you will need and compare costs. If you are DIYing, list all tools you will need to accomplish the job and factor those costs in too. Be sure to think of the disposal costs for all the materials being removed. Consider if it is worth renting a roll-off dumpster.
If your renovation won’t be a DIY project then get quotes for the cost of labor. Ask for a transparent quote to be sure unexpected fees aren’t tacked on at the end. Things to look for are the cost of labor, cost of material removal, and cost of material provided by the contractor, among others. You should also plan to pay for a consultation. Contractors will often need to cover the cost of their travel expenses and time to look over and plan your project. If they advertise free estimates, you shouldn’t have to pay (and your actual project costs may end up being quite a bit over the rough estimate they provide), but if they need to visit in-person and take a few hours for a consultation, then you will likely need to pay a consultation fee. While you will have this added fee, you are less likely to have unexpected expenses added on to your budget, as the job will be evaluated more in depth and planned more precisely.
Plan a safe budget that accounts for inflation of cost for materials, extra materials needed for mess ups, and unexpected costs that you may run into (i.e. bathroom remodel that requires unexpected mold removal. Or a kitchen remodel that requires adjustments to meet building codes.). A good rule of thumb is to budget an extra 10-20% of your total project cost, based on the complexity of your renovation.
3. Stay consistent with style
As you change your house to meet your style, be sure to keep a consistent style throughout the house. This doesn’t mean you can’t update the trim in your living room to be a fresh white while the rest of the trim in your house is oak, but you may want to consider updating the rest of your house to match. What this does mean, is don’t plan to create a sleek contemporary look in your living room, but have a rustic kitchen that feels like you teleported to your Mawmaw’s kitchen. While neither style is inherently a bad style, they don’t flow well and can create a feeling of chaos.
4. One thing at a time
It is extremely easy to jump in head first to a home renovation with grand ideas of how you want to change your whole house, especially if you are a new home buyer! There are multiple risks involved with trying to tackle too many projects at once. As mentioned above, there are often unexpected expenses that arise while renovating. It could potentially put you in a bad spot financially if you run into issues that lead to an increased budget. When you have multiple renovations going on, you could be forced to quit one project in order to have the budget to finish the other, leaving an unsightly half-done renovation.
Another consideration is that having multiple renovation projects at once could leave multiple areas of your home unable to be used. So it may not be the best idea to renovate both of your bathrooms at the same time… This would be feasible if you are not currently living in your home or have a secondary place to stay during renovations.
While it feels like it would make sense to renovate everything at once in order to keep style cohesive, it’s best to document brands and style names of products so you can accomplish the same style throughout your house with only facing one project at a time. Write down the name of paint colors and flooring styles and keep a journal or Pinterest board of your inspiration for style so you can reference it in the future. Be sure to pin this too, so you can reference back to it for all of your future renovations!
5. Be Careful of DIYs
In the age of technology, there are more people than ever turning to DIY projects. There are platforms dedicated to DIY failures that are entertaining to say the least, though it’s not quite funny when your DIY project is the failed project. Even though you can find a youtube video to learn virtually anything, there are many reasons why sometimes you shouldn’t feel quite comfortable tackling your own project after your youtube education.
The number one reason people turn to DIY home renovations is for the chance to save money. Unfortunately, a shoddy renovation job can end up costing you more money in the long run. Likewise, if you aren’t regularly renovating, then there is a high possibility that you won’t have all the tools necessary to complete the renovation with an end result that looks professionally done. You very likely will save money by hiring a professional because they will already have the tools and equipment to perform your renovation and you won’t need to foot the cost.
The next- extremely reasonable- consideration is that by hiring a professional, you get…well, a professional! They have completed training and years of experience in order to know what they are doing. You likely won’t be able to match that just by reading a few articles and watching a few youtube videos. Renovations can also be very dangerous and if you aren’t completely educated on the skills and processes involved with your renovation, you could end up seriously hurting yourself or causing a hazardous environment that can harm you or your family in the future.
If you are planning to renovate anytime in the future, keep these 5 things in mind in order to have the best possible outcome of your renovation efforts! Likewise, if you are in the North Louisiana area and would like to consult with professionals, the licensed contractors at Martin Presence Property Management will work with you to turn your house into your dream home!