Everything you need to know before starting your next home renovation
Renovating your home often feels equal parts exciting and overwhelming. On the one hand, you get to transform your space into the home of your dreams, but on the other hand, there are seemingly endless costs, plans, and contractors to consider. Fortunately, the whole process is totally manageable with the right plans in place.
Here, we outline each step of the home renovation process so that you can start building the home of your dreams with relative ease.
Create a Renovation Plan
Home renovations can become mighty complicated, so it's a great idea to think through your renovation plans before you start.
Outline Your Renovation Priorities
Consider what elements of a renovation are absolutely critical and which ones you'll only incorporate if your time and budget allow. For instance, if you love to cook, then building a functional, expansive kitchen might be more important to you than adding high-end finishes for the bathroom. Knowing your priorities makes it easier to make quick decisions as you move through the renovation process and run into unforeseen budget constraints.
Create a Renovation Budget
For many people, cost is the primary concern when planning a renovation project. Creating a realistic budget that leaves room for unexpected expenses that often arise during these projects will help ensure that you don't go way over what you planned to pay. This is also a good time to look at your list of priorities and determine which ones you're willing to cut if the project becomes too expensive.
Weigh Renovation Costs With Your Home's Value
While it's true that renovation projects are often expensive, they can also increase your home's resale value, allowing you to make a return on your renovation investment. But some renovations provide a higher return on investment (ROI) than others, so it helps to research renovation projects with the highest ROI if you're hoping to garner big returns. For example, a kitchen remodel often yields some of the highest returns, with an average ROI of 72.2%.
Plan Your Aesthetic
Once you get your budget and priorities squared away, you can start working on the fun stuff, like how you want your final renovation to look. Pinterest and other social media sites are great resources, offering boundless interior inspiration that you can save and use as your muse.
At this point, you should also consider whether you plan to sell your home sooner, later, or never. If you decide to incorporate very trendy finishes or paint colors, for example, then it might make it more difficult to sell your house than it would if you added more timeless elements. However, if you don't plan to sell anytime soon (or ever), then you needn't put much weight on whether or not potential buyers will like it.
Create a Rough Renovation Timeline
Renovations are notorious for taking longer to complete than planned, but it's still helpful to create a rough timeline of the project. When drafting the timeline, consider as many elements as possible, including the time it will take to plan the project, interview and hire contractors, get necessary permits, and start and finish construction. And if there's a particular date by which you need to complete the renovation, then you should discuss it with any contractors you interview to ensure that they can complete it on time.
Research, Interview, and Hire Contractors
Once you have a solid renovation plan in place, it's time to start researching and interviewing contractors so you can find just the right person for the job.
Referrals from friends, family, and colleagues are among the best ways to find a professional you can trust. Reach out to your network to ask if anyone can recommend a local contractor who they love. Bonus points if that contractor worked on renovations similar to what you're planning.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, you can easily research reviews on nearly any contractor. Make a list of contractors who look promising through your own research or referrals, and spend some time reading what other customers have to say about them. You can often find customer testimonials on a contractor's website, but check around to other message boards and review sites as well to get the whole picture.
In addition to looking at reviews, you should verify any potential contractor's credentials. Contractor licensing requirements vary by state, so check your state's licensing website to learn what licenses a contractor needs to complete your project. Then, verify that any prospective contractors are licensed appropriately.
After you've narrowed down your list of potential contractors to about three, request cost estimates from each one. Often, the contractor will first need to visit the site, aka your home, to determine roughly how much they think the renovation will cost.
Hire a Contractor
Once you have all of the estimates in hand, take some time to weigh the costs against the contractor’s skills and expertise. The cheapest estimate isn't necessarily the best option for everyone. For instance, if you're looking for a contractor who specializes in a particular area, like kitchen renovations, then you may be willing to pay a bit more for their expertise.
After considering each contractor's estimate, expertise, credentials, and reviews, hire the person who you think will be the best fit for your project.
Prep Your Home for the Renovation
With plans in place and a great contractor by your side, it's time to start prepping your home for the big project ahead.
Depending on the extent and schedule of your renovation, you may want somewhere to store some of your items until the project is complete. You can add a storage pod to the outside of your home for easy access, but you should expect to pay at least $150 per month to do so, depending on its size. You can potentially save a bit of money by renting an offsite storage unit instead, which often starts at about $80 to $100 per month.
Plan Your Living Arrangements
Often, a major renovation means you can't use essential rooms—or even your whole house—for a period of time, so you'll want to make appropriate arrangements. For instance, if your kitchen will be under construction for a while, then maybe you want to put your microwave, toaster, and other small appliances in your laundry room temporarily.
And if your whole house is undergoing construction at once, then make plans to rent a temporary home or stay with friends or relatives.
This isn't an essential step, but before-and-after photos of your home renovation can be so satisfying. They're a great way to reflect on how much work you put into the renovation and just how beautiful the results of your efforts are. They can also be a great tool should you want to become a reference for your contractor.
Start the Renovation
You made it: It's finally time to start transforming your home. If you hired a great contractor, then you shouldn't need to do too much more. However, you'll want to make yourself available to your contractor throughout the whole project. Unforeseen issues almost always arise, which can slow down your home renovation. The faster you can address and make decisions about these issues, the sooner your renovation will be complete.
It's also helpful to keep an eye on the construction process, taking note of any potential mistakes or miscommunications and bringing them up with the contractor to ensure everything is squared away before you make the final payment. And if you're really impressed with your contractor's work, you can offer to be a reference or write a testimonial.