Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Renovating a home is a big undertaking and, even if you have done it before, you can almost always expect something new. Knowing what to do and what to expect can help make the process run much more smoothly.
When remodeling a home, you will want to prepare as much as possible before you begin. Below you will find a list of things you can do to help the renovation process go smoothly, as well as a list of things you can expect to occur so that you are well prepared.
|Things to Do
|Things to Expect
|Stick to Your Plan & Organize
|Your Daily Routine Will Be Disrupted
|Set Your Budget & Track Your Expenses
|A Messy Home
|Keep Your Receipts
|Hire the Right Team
|Follow the Remodel Steps
|Expect to go Over Budget
|It Won’t Be Perfect
Things to Do During a House Renovation
There are many things that you will be doing every day during a house renovation. Being able to prioritize and focus on what the important ones are can have a significant impact on how well your renovation goes. The following sections detail the things you should do during your home renovation.
Stick to Your Plan & Organize
During the renovation, make sure you stick to your plan and stay organized. Before you begin, you should have set a goal for your renovation, such as increasing the value of the home or turning it into your dream home. Once you get started, stay focused on your goal and make sure you don’t over or under-do it for the home and neighborhood.
Staying organized is an integral part of a renovation process, especially if you are living in the home during the remodel. Here are a few tips that can help you stay organized:
- Prepare for new living arrangements, whether you plan to live in the home during the renovation or you are headed to a hotel, friend, or family’s home.
- Pack up your valuables.
- Clean and organize as you pack.
- Prepare for the dust by removing rugs, curtains, and covering furniture.
- Communicate frequently with any contractors you hire.
- Have a place for important documents that you will want to hang on to, such as:
- Construction agreements
- Lien documents
- Schedules and plans
- Notes and reminders
Set Your Budget
When renovating a home, sometimes it is hard not to dream big and want to go all out. Be realistic with yourself about what you can afford and what items will cost. Give yourself some cushion for unexpected expenses, because more likely than not, they will occur. Anticipate spending an extra 20% on surprises.
When setting your remodel budget, here are a few things to do:
- Go to department stores and look at the prices of items to get a feel for what your expenses will be like.
- Try to select items that will fit comfortably within your budget but still provide the look and design you are trying to achieve.
- Know that what you see on TV is not a fair judgment of how much remodels will cost.
- The television can be misleading, especially when it comes to higher-end items and their prices.
- Before you begin your remodel, call contractors and others to get estimates on what specific projects will cost.
- For example, if you need to have the furnace replaced, get an estimate or two.
- If you spend a little more in one area, try to save in another.
- For example, if you want a beautiful high-end countertop, consider spending less on lighting or sink fixtures.
Remodeling expenses can add up very quickly, so write every expense down. Throughout each step of the remodeling process, make sure you keep your “checkbook” balanced and are paying attention to where you are with your budget. Keeping track of where you are along the way can help prevent you from overspending. It will also tell you where any extra money you spent went to.
Add to your budget by selling some of the older items in the house you will be removing during the demo process and no longer need. For example, if you are taking out the bathroom vanities that are still in good shape but won’t match the new design of the home, rather than paying to take them to the dump, sell them online or at a thrift store to earn a little extra cash towards your remodel.
Keep Your Receipts
Another great thing to do when remodeling and working within a budget is to hang onto your receipts. Remodel receipts can come in handy in three ways:
- When remodeling you will often buy items you end up not using, hanging onto receipts will allow you to return those items for a full refund without any hassle.
- Receipts allow you to keep track of where your money goes.
- Remodeling will add value to the home, and if you are planning on selling it, you can deduct your remodel expenses from the profit of your sale. This can save you a significant amount of money in taxes.
- For example, say the renovation costs you $20,000 and you sell the home for a $60,000 profit, if you can prove that you spent $20,000 in remodeling costs with your receipts, then you will only pay taxes on a $40,000 profit.
Hire the Right Team
Don’t expect to be able to complete every renovation project on your own. There may be times when you need to hire out some work, so when you do, make sure you contract the right individuals for the job. Decide if you want to work with a company that can cover all your renovation needs or if you want to hire several different teams to complete separate and individual projects.
When selecting a team, make sure that they are easy to contact, and they understand your wants and needs for the home. Also, consider looking into the following qualifications to make sure they are financially accountable:
- Insurance Certificate
- Lien History
- Bond Number
Follow the Remodel Steps
When remodeling a house, or even one room, there are some steps you can follow to help the renovations stay organized. Listed below are some steps you can use during each room or project of the house:
- Demo. Demo everything you need removed from the house or room then clean the space thoroughly to prepare for the next steps.
- Repair the Exterior. Before you begin anything inside the home, focus on the outside. Make sure the roof is in good shape, the foundation is fixed, and the windows are functional. If these outside items are prepared, then the inside renovation of the home will go much more smoothly.
- Replace Old Plumbing. If your remodel space has old plumbing, take care of this first before you begin any other projects.
- Replace HVAC, Electrical, and Lighting. Make sure the HVAC in the home runs efficiently and adequately. Replacing any electrical or light fixtures is next on the list. However, some light fixtures you will need to wait to hang until the drywall is up and painting is done.
- Add Drywall. If you have demoed walls, you will need to drywall up and get it mudded and primed before painting.
- Paint. Next, paint the ceilings, walls, doors, trim, baseboards, and anything else that needs painting. Adding a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. You will get a fresher, newer, and cleaner look in the home by repainting.
- Install Flooring and Baseboards. Some trim and baseboards you will want to paint and install before the floor, depending on what the flooring will be. For example, you will paint and install baseboards before the carpet goes in, but if you are laying down hard flooring, you will install and paint the baseboards after the floor goes down.
- Install Cabinets, Vanities, Toilets, Tubs, Doors, Shelves, etc. Depending on the space you are working in, you will next add pieces of furniture that are secured in place. For example, in the kitchen, you would now put in your cabinets.
- Consider adding storage – Most individuals are attracted to homes that have lots of storage. Storage will help the home not feel cluttered with stuff that doesn’t have a place to go. It can also be a selling feature if you intend to sell the home.
- Install Countertops, if Applicable. Once cabinets and vanities go in the bathroom and kitchen, you will next do the countertops.
- Wall Features. Next, you will hang your wall features and put up any backsplashes.
- Install Appliances and Hardware. Bring in the appliances and get them installed.
- Clean. Now that you have everything done, give the home or space a thorough cleaning.
- Bring in Furniture and Personal Belongings. Add your personal touch by bringing in your furniture and personal belongings.
Remodeling is physically and emotionally draining at times, especially if you are doing the entire remodel yourself. Be mentally prepared for bumps in the road and remind yourself to stay positive during the worst of times. Keep the end goal in mind and know that the remodel isn’t going to last forever.
Take one day at a time and find the little successes in each day to keep you pushing forward and feeling cheerful. Having a positive mentality about what you can do to fix things and make them better rather than finding blame for why something went wrong will help you stay happy and motivated.
What to Expect During a Home Renovation
Setting the right expectations for a home renovation can help keep stress levels down and allow you to better prepare for unexpected problems. The following sections explain what to expect during house renovations.
Your Daily Routine Will Be Disrupted
When taking on a renovation, the daily routine you had for both work and leisure will be thrown out the window. You’ll spend most of your time at the house working and managing workers you have hired. Expect to spend hours on the phone with contractors, home repair department stores, or others you have enlisted to help.
If you are living in the home, you will see even more of a disruption in your lifestyle. Here is a list of a few changes you can expect while living in a home being renovated:
- You may be without a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom for weeks at a time.
- There’s a chance you might not have power for a few days.
- You could even be without appliances to cook or warm any food, so you may have to order out for meals.
- If the water gets shut off, you won’t be able to shower or use the bathroom at the house.
- When painting or replacing windows, you may have to spend the night without blinds for privacy.
Expect a Messy Home
Remodeling a home gets very messy, from the demolition until the day you add the finishing touches. There will be dirt and dust covering the floors and walls. You will find nails and trash all over the place. Do your best to clean as you go but be prepared for the mess.
If you plan on living in the home during the remodel, try to keep your living and sleeping area as clean as you can, but don’t let the mess bother you because it will never be perfectly clean. If you can’t handle living in a messy home, consider renting somewhere temporarily or staying at a friend or family member’s house.
Expect Project Delays
Ideally, when you begin a renovation, you will have a specific timeline in place from start to finish. However, renovations rarely stay on schedule as one project after another begins and ends. Several things can cause project delays during a renovation, and more likely than not, you will experience at least one or two of them throughout the remodel.
Glance over the list below to get a feel for what might delay your renovation:
- Contractors take longer than expected – Often, contractors will give you a deadline, but don’t be surprised if they take longer than they say.
- Decision changes – You may begin a project and decide partway through that you want to do it differently. This can set you back timewise, but if it is what you want, then go for it!
- Material and order delays – When you order materials online or through department stores, sometimes there are shipping delays that are out of your control.
- Equipment isn’t readily available – You may need to rent or borrow specific tools that won’t be available right away.
- Weather delays – Weather changes can have a significant impact on your timeline when working both inside and outside of the home. For example, rainy, humid days will cause the paint to dry more slowly and postpone any outdoor projects you are working on.
- Running out of cash – Renovations can be expensive, and if you end up spending more than you budgeted, you may need to put some projects on hold until you can afford to pay for them.
During the remodeling process, expect plans to change. You may start a project and end up changing the design or color scheme at the last minute. If you expect changes to occur in advance, it can make them easier to deal with.
Change isn’t always bad. Changes can happen for many reasons. For example, you may get started in an area of the home and realize you can make the space more functional by designing it differently than you originally planned.
Expect to Go Over Budget
You’ve set a budget for your remodel by researching prices and getting quotes before projects begin; however, know that no matter how well you’ve done your research, you will go over budget. As mentioned before, expect to spend 20% more than you have budgeted.
You can go over budget for several reasons:
- Unexpected expenses, such as HVAC repair, undiscovered mold, a leaking roof, hidden mice, insect infestation, etc.
- Price of materials increase
- You need to rent or purchase equipment you didn’t anticipate needing
- Things break or need replacing
- Contractors need more money than expected
- Your project is delayed, so you need to rent your apartment or hotel for longer
It Won’t Be Perfect
Just like an artist will find flaws in their painting that no one else will see, you will make some errors during the remodel that you will always be aware of. No matter how hard you try to make everything perfect, you will find there is always something that you wish had turned out differently. Tell yourself ahead of time that not everything will be perfect and prepare yourself to be okay with that!
Undergoing a home renovation is tons of work, so being prepared and following specific steps throughout the entire process can ease the stress and burden a renovation brings. Use the suggestions and information in this article to guide your renovation and find your way to success.
Dwell: Home Renovation Tips
Let’s Make Room: Staying Organized (and Sane) During a Home Remodel
Realtor.com: Life in a Construction Zone
Jillian Harris: 15 Things You Need to Know Before a Home Remodel
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