The home remodeling website Houzz did a study and it found that 12% of couples who start a major renovation, will consider getting a divorce before the end of it. Undertaking a home renovation is super hard. Below are 50 tips to help you save time, money, and sanity during your home renovation. In addition to these tips, using an experience and expertise of a Renovation Coach to accomplish your home renovation goals can be invaluable.
50 Home Renovation Tips
1. Plan your renovation with standard sizes in mind. Custom anything means expensive and renovations are no different. Save yourself thousands by sticking with standard sizes as much as possible. Items that fall under this category include cabinets, appliances, windows, and doors.
2. Hire an architect if you’re changing the layout of the room. Architects in many projects are a must. With an experienced architect getting permits will be significantly easier, and your contractor will be ecstatic to receive a set of plans he can follow.
3. Resist mid-project scope changes. The number one source for time and cost overruns during renovations is scope changes. Resist the urge to make major changes during your project it can really set your project and your bank account back.
4. Select EVERY finish before work starts. Sometimes homeowners are so enthusiastic about beginning a renovation that they forget to select materials until it’s time to install. If you want your project finished as fast as possible try to pick all of your finishes before any work gets started.
5. Get at least three contractor bids. Renovation estimates can swing in price by the tens of thousands. Get at least three bids to make sure you have the proper sense of what your project should cost.
6. Call contractor referrals. This is a step that many homeowners just don’t do, and it’s a HUGE mistake. Take the time to call at least two past customers of your soon to be contractor. It could save you from hiring the wrong professional.
7. Visit potential contractor job sites. This is something that is extremely easy to do but most homeowners neglect to do it. Construction is a messy business, and when you have a family the last thing you want is tools and debris laying around your home. Check your contractor‘s site to see what your home may end up looking like.
8. Be on site at least once a day. One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner during a project is to conduct a site visit at least once a day. Contractors are notorious for abandoning sites for days at a time. Stay on top of what is going on so your project gets completed on time.
9. Use the internet to discover deals on fixtures. One of the best ways to say money during your project is to search for fixtures like sinks, vanities, and faucets online. In many cases, you can save upto 15%-20%.
10. Attend open houses for design inspiration. For some homeowners deciding what the bathroom or the kitchen should look like is the most challenging part. If you’re not working with an interior designer one of the easiest ways to see what the trends are is to visit open houses in your neighborhood.
11. Ask your contractor for a discount. Most contractors have a set margin, and many will discount if asked. They key is you have to ask :)
12. Use a renovation coach. Renovations are a complex and dynamic undertaking. Using an expert who has completed many renovations can save you about 30% on cost, and prevent time delays. It also provides you with the support and peace of mind needed during the chaotic process.
13. Use renovation apps like Thumbtack and RemodelMate to find contractors. Technology companies like Thumbtack and DC-based RemodelMate are looking to assist homeowners with finding contractors who can best serve their needs. They can be valuable time savers in the bidding process.
14. Consider DIY’ing demolition. For handier moms, consider tackling some projects yourself. If you’re looking to spruce up the bathrooms. jobs like retiling and swapping the vanity are relatively simple and can make a huge impact.
15. Have a 10% contingency budget in place. With renovations, it is almost guaranteed that something will go wrong. Please, please, please have a contingency budget in place.
16. Do structural fixes first. We all watch HGTV and want the super nice kitchen or bathroom. However, if your home has a serious structural issue then you want to tackle that first. Structural issues only get worse with time and make selling a home extremely difficult.
17. Consider alternative financing solutions. HELOC‘s are not the only way to pay for home improvements. There are many lenders who will provide unsecured loans specifically for home improvement.
18. Complete your project in phases. The idea of just getting it all done is extremely attractive. But I advise many of my clients to do their renovations in stages, especially if they are living in the home. Home renovations are extremely disruptive, and once they’ve started there’s no going back. Giving yourself a break in between projects allows you to maintain sanity during the process.
20. Paint/Re-stain your cabinets versus replacing them. It is advised in many kitchen renovations to replace the cabinets. However, cabinets are the most expensive part of a renovation. You can save thousands by electing to paint or restain them versus replacing them.
21. Be aware of the ROI of your project. If you have any intention on moving out of your home in the future then you want to know the return on investment that your renovation provides.
22. Use an interior designer service. If don‘t want to invest the hours into researching the latest design trends an interior designer can save you loads of time. With services like Havenly it’s more designers are more accessible than they have ever been.
23. If you have a small budget, paint changes everything. If you have a limited budget and really want to have a significant impact on your home, the best thing to do is to repaint the house.
24. Buy open box appliances to save money. When renovating on a budget every dollar counts. Buying appliances that have been returned can save you hundreds. Discounts of $300-$400 per appliances are common.
25. Interview your contractor for communication compatibility. Starting a home renovation with a contractor is like being married to them for the duration of the project. Like in any relationship good communication is critically important. Make sure you and your contractor communicate in a way that won’t cause frustration down the line.
26. Leverage your contractor‘s suppliers for time savings. Most contractors have a particular supplier they like to use for materials. You won’t always get the best price from their suppliers, but they will be able to get faster delivery times given the relationship. Also when issues arise due to materials, it’s much easier to resolve.
27. IKEA cabinets are an incredible deal. IKEA is known for its inexpensive furniture, but they also carry amazing kitchen products. Your favorite developer probably bought his cabinets from IKEA.
28. Replace your entryway door for a quick boost in home value. Entryway doors tend to be one of the highest ROI projects.
29. Use estate sales to get deals on fixtures and furniture. Estate sales can be a phenomenal place to find all kinds of things, but they are also a treasure trove of great finds for your home improvement projects. From doors to light fixtures, you can find some pretty unique items.
30. Be careful not to over improve. If you have any intention of selling your home in the future then being careful to not over improve it is important. You want to make sure that your improvement cost can be recouped when you got to sell.
31. Don’t select your contractor on price alone. This is a big one. We all like to save money, but when it comes to selecting a contractor please don’t choose based on their price alone.
32. Purchase flooring from an outlet. If you’re looking to save big money on flooring, this is the way to go. Rather than buying from a flooring retailer, head over to your neighborhood flooring outlet to save 20%-40% on flooring cost.
33. Exterior renovations are a great way to improve overall home value and to increase home efficiency. One of my favorite ways to transform a home is to redo the siding. Not only does it massively improve aesthetics it also improves the heating and cooling efficiency due to the newly installed insulation.
34. Have your contractor pull the permits. The person who pulls the permits bears the responsibility of making sure the project is being done properly and up to code. Have your contractor pull the permits.
35. Splurge on areas that will get the most use. You want to spend money in the rooms that will get the heaviest use. The more wear and tear a room gets the higher the quality of finishes required. AKA don’t buy a really cheap stove if you plan on cooking three times a day.
36. Don’t neglect to build adequate storage. This is something that is happening frequently in newer construction. With the advent of open floor plans and minimalism, homeowners sometimes forget their homes are meant for living as well. Make sure to build in adequate storage into your renovation.
37. Build a renovation schedule that works for your family’s life. This really should be higher up on the list. Home renovations can be extremely disruptive and can make life quite difficult if not planned properly. Renovate bathrooms one at a time to make sure there’s always access, during kitchen renovations keep hassle-free foods on hand.
38. Renovate your exterior before your interior when doing both. Always do your exterior renovations first if doing both. It is painful to have a beautiful kitchen renovation ruined by a leak in the roof.
39. Know what your must-haves are. When renovating surprises are the norm. Every so often those surprises mean something has to go in order for things to work. Know which items on your list are must-haves and communicate that clearly and often to your contractor.
40. Be willing to compromise on your must-haves. Things don’t always go as planned on renovations. Your house may not have the water pressure to support that amazing jacuzzi tub you’ve been eyeing for the past 2 years. It is a tragedy, I know.
41. Buy materials yourself. Believe it or not, contractors do markup the materials cost. Part of that is because they have to deal with the hassle that comes with ordering and receiving them. Mostly it’s because they can. So when possible purchase materials yourself. Things like flooring, tile, fixtures, etc. are all great candidates.
42. Consider composite materials vs natural materials for cost savings. In the last 50 years, there has been a slew of alternative building materials that have hit the market. A great example of this is engineered hardwood. It is more affordable and more resistant to moisture than standard hardwood.
43. Be prepared for surprises throughout the renovation journey. I’m sure you’ve gathered this by now from the other suggestions, but it cannot be stressed enough that surprises will arise during a home renovation. The goal is to prepare meticulously to avoid surprises and then to be prepared financially and emotionally for those that arise.
44. Be sure to test for hazardous materials if you’re in an older home. Back in the day, builders used materials that weren’t the most sustainable like asbestos insulation and lead paint. Before renovating an older home make sure you’re aware of any hazardous materials in the home. Most professionals will perform this for you, but it is still best to err on the side of caution.
45. Make sure your contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured according to local regulations. This is a critical one! Make sure your contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured. In the event of any injuries or accidents, you want to be able to remedy the situation without having to suffer months of litigation.
46. Review permitting requirements in your city. Given that you’ve vetted your contractor and know him to be a reputable local tradesman this should be of no concern. However, it is still a good idea to brush up on the local permitting requirements for your project. You can not be over prepared when renovating your home.
47. Use Houzz to generate style ideas. Another hack for getting design cues without having to bring in an interior designer is to use the massive gallery of Houzz.com. Not only does it have thousands of pictures, many of them also link the products used for easy shopping. It’s a gold mine.
48. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor questions. Renovating your home is an extremely exciting time, but it can also be equally distressing. Asking questions when you genuinely feel confused is the best way to alleviate the anxiety that comes with the process. Ask questions to keep the lines of communication open with your contractor.
49. Know what your budget can do. This one is self-explanatory. Recognize the limitations of your budget. It’ll help you hire the best contractor for the job, and inform you of where you may need to fill in the gaps with a little bit of elbow grease.
50. Enjoy the process of transforming your home. If you‘ve made it this far, I applaud you. This one is kind of cliche, but it is important. Do your best to enjoy the process of transforming your home. Take pictures of the process, invite friends over to view the carnage and laugh at yourself for being nutty enough to start this thing.
If you are planning a home renovation, but don’t know where to get started, please contact Renovation Coach DC. They serve the greater Washington, DC area and have years of experience working with clients and contractors to make sure renovations are smooth and clients remain happy.