Wondering how to renovate your home? Sure, there are a number of things to take into account, and it can be difficult to know what to do when, or even how to get started. This guide will explain how the process works, from gathering inspiration to finishing on time and on budget.
The first (and arguably most fun) step in a successful home renovation is to discover your taste. What’s your style? Even if you can’t name an architectural or design style, you can get an idea of what you like and dislike. Collect images of rooms or things you enjoy (maybe you’ll discover that you have an affinity for dark hardwood floors, or wrought iron staircases). If you come across a fabric swatch or flooring sample that appeals to you, keep those in the same place. By creating a collection of the things you enjoy, you can easily communicate your desires to the right professional.
Make a list of dislikes
Think about what’s causing you to renovate. Maybe it’s outdated kitchen cabinets, or you’ve been dreaming of an en suite bathroom for your master bedroom. By listing the things that you don’t enjoy about your current space, you can be sure to communicate all of them to your hired renovation professional and ensure that nothing is left out during the home renovation process.
Think about your lifestyle
It’s easy to see pretty pictures and think “I want that for my house.” However, it’s also important to ponder what your life requires from your home. Maybe you love a photo of a sprawling kitchen with a large island, and are contemplating eliminating your guest bedroom/den to allow for more kitchen space. This may seem like a great idea, until your frequent houseguests arrive. Make sure to note what isn’t working in your home’s current design, and think about what your life needs from your home.
If you’re considering several renovation projects, think about which one to tackle first. Having one room under construction is a lot different than not being able to access multiple rooms, and it’s important to think about how much you (and anyone else living in your house) can handle at one time. Prioritizing your projects can help you determine which to take on first, and which can wait.
It’s also a smart idea to prioritize aspects of your projects. By knowing which things are must-haves (double doors into your bedroom) and which don’t rank as high (that name brand, claw-foot bathtub) you’ll know what to cut if surprises come up, without going over budget or slowing your project down.
Set a budget
Just like starting to house shop, it’s important to know how much you can spend before you get too far into the process. Once you have an idea of your home renovation project’s scope, start thinking about what it will cost, and make sure that lines up with what you can afford.
And budget again
Once you have an idea of what your project will cost, expect the unexpected, and adjust your budget. It’s important to have a contingency budget, usually around 20 percent of your project’s total cost. This can cover change order fees if you change your mind about something after your project has begun, or keep your project from stalling if damage is uncovered, due to things such as termites, dry rot, etc.
Have your plans drawn up
Most contractors can provide simple/small plan drawing services that will satisfy the city requirements for getting a permit. To determine if this option will work for your project,think about its scope: a small bathroom remodel can be drawn up and handled by a contractor, whereas plans for an entire home interior remodel should be handled by a certified draftsperson. Hire an architect if you’re looking at a robust remodel involving a delicate application of nuanced materials. When you hire an architect, you are relying on his/her expertise and creativity to create your dream space with great detail. A draftsperson will draw your dream as long as you know exactly what you want and have a good idea of the details for the space, and a contractor will usually draw it with just enough detail to get plan approval.
Once your plans are created, start shopping for the right professional. Sure, you’ll want someone who can offer the best price, but it’s also important to make sure that the person is the right fit for the job, to avoid problems later on. You can also get bids before plans are created, especially if you’re looking at a minor home renovation, but note that it can be difficult to get highly accurate bids without plans.
Once you’ve located the right professional for your project, talk timeline and scope, and sign a contract. The city will be able to tell you if you need a permit once you have the scope of your project defined. If you’ve hired a contractor, he/she will take care of this.
It’s easy to lose sight of what your day-to-day will be like during a renovation, with so many things to consider. If you’re renovating a kitchen, make sure to discuss setting up a makeshift cooking space with your contractor before any walls come down. The same goes for any room that may be out of commission for a bit of time; think about where you are going to sleep, shower, cook, and do all of the things you do every day.
Create a clear timeline
Make sure there’s light at the end of your home renovation tunnel, and that you know exactly when that light will arrive. You should have a solid idea of when your project will be finished, and this should be mutually agreed upon with your contractor, if you’re employing one.
Stay focused and on track
Veering off course and changing plans mid-project will cost time and money. Change orders come with alterations to your timeline, because the new/different work has to be factored in. They also come at a cost, with billing for extra time and materials, as well as a change order fee. This is why it’s important to create a detailed plan, and stick with it.
A surprising number of materials are needed for a home renovation project, and not having them when they’re needed can throw your timeline off, meaning that you’re living in a construction zone for a longer period of time. Make sure that you know when you need to have your faucets picked out, your countertops ordered, or your flooring show up. By ordering materials early and having them available ahead of the time they’re needed, you can help your project to be completed on time.