Planning for a major home update can be exciting, yet stressful. Whether you’re replacing your roof or remodeling an outdated kitchen, any home improvement project requires time, money, and preparation. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead to assure a smooth renovation.
If you’re getting ready for your next home upgrade, here are seven factors to consider before tearing down your walls:
1. Establish A Budget
The average home renovation project can cost thousands of dollars, making it no small expense for homeowners. Before diving head-first into your renovation project, you’ll want to establish a budget to ensure the best return on your investment. As a general rule, you should avoid allocating more than 10% to 15% of the value of your home to a single room so your renovation makes the most sense.
Prior to setting a budget, review all your financing options and make sure you’re able to take on the cost of your project either in full or over time. While most homeowners don’t have the cash to pay for all remodeling charges upfront, there are several options for affording large-scale home improvement projects. For instance, you can choose to take out a home equity loan or cash-out refinance to cover renovation costs. Or, you could save for a down payment to help lower your monthly costs.
Home improvement projects rarely end up costing less than you anticipate, which is why it’s also vital to set aside extra funds for any unplanned expenses. No matter how you choose to budget for your project, you must take into account your financial capabilities and set relatively strict limits to stay within your means.
2. Assess The Scope Of The Project
Once you’ve established a budget, you should figure out the scope of your renovation. Take time to list out all aspects of your project, such as your budget, timeline, required approvals, resources, and objectives. Prioritizing these factors in advance will help you determine what is financially and physically feasible when it comes to your renovation.
Decide what exactly needs to be renovated, and factor in any required materials, labor, and other miscellaneous funds. If you’re on a tight budget, you can modify your project plan by opting for lower-cost materials or refurbishing old appliances instead of replacing them entirely. You may also be able to save money by renovating during the fall or winter when contractors are less busy.
While you may also be able to trim down costs by taking on some simpler projects like painting, major renovations are often outside of the realm of possibilities for the typical homeowner. If you decide not to DIY, you should also factor in the cost of equipment and labor. Once you have a general sense of the renovations you can complete within your timeline and budget, you can connect with a contractor and move on to the next step of planning.
3. Consult Contractors
If you’re not completing renovations yourself, contact a few trusted contractors to provide quotes. By taking several quotes into account, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision when selecting a builder. It’s essential that you don’t rely solely on price when making your decision as price can often reflect quality. That said, it’s best to go with a contractor whose quote falls somewhere in the middle.
Before hiring a home improvement contractor, be sure to check all references and ask about any hidden fees to avoid unplanned expenses. Comparing your options will help you hire a contractor that fits your budget and needs. The right contractor will be able to explain all expenditures, provide a hard quote, and make informed recommendations.
When evaluating contractors, look for names that end with the Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), certified Aging-in Place Specialist (CAPS), or Local Building Industry Association (BIA) abbreviation, as these indicate the company may belong to national trade organizations or hold certain certifications that make them more qualified. It’s also important to hire a contractor that is licensed and insured to ensure you are not liable for any work-related injuries.
4. Communicate With Your Contractor
Once you’ve selected a trusted contractor, sit down together and read through the terms of your contract. Your contract should include a detailed plan with a timeline, total cost, payment options, and a thorough project description. If you’re unsure of any language, address this prior to signing to confirm you fully understand the conditions.
In addition, you should determine the best means of communication with your contractor. Whether you’re most accessible via text or would rather speak in person, make sure you’re able to communicate and check in whenever necessary. Establishing open communication will help you build greater trust and ensure you’re readily available to discuss any changes to your plan.
You should also consult your contractor about which permits are required for your remodeling project. Projects that involve new fencing, siding, window installation, plumbing, electrical, or structural changes often require you to obtain a permit. However, since each municipality has different rules, it’s best to check online or call in to your city code enforcement division to guarantee your project is legitimate. A qualified contractor should also be able to tell you which permits to obtain.
5. Protect Your Belongings
Before starting a major renovation, consider which belongings you’ll need to move or temporarily store during the project. For example, you’ll want to move any photographs, artwork, or electronics out of the workzone to prevent them from getting damaged. If possible, place large furniture items into storage, or, if they’re immobile, use protective sheeting to shield them from dust and dirt.
While you should trust your contractor, it’s important to protect expensive belongings from getting lost or stolen when you’re not home. If you have valuables around your house, such as jewelry, cash, or prescription medications, secure them in a lockbox or safe.
If you’re not staying on-site, you may want to safeguard your home during your remodel. You can install safety features, such as a doorbell camera, smart locks, and motion sensors to keep your property secure when you’re away. Using security equipment will grant you peace of mind knowing your home is protected inside and out.
6. Figure Out Living Arrangements
Whether you’re remodeling your entire home or only a few rooms, renovation projects can disrupt your typical day-to-day routine. If you’re renovating rooms that are used frequently, such as your bathrooms or the kitchen, you may need to temporarily relocate. Take time to weigh your options, and obtain accommodations prior to starting the renovation.
Deciding where to live during a home renovation can be a tough decision, especially when you have a family. Some homeowners choose to stay in an Airbnb or hotel while others cut costs by relying on relatives for temporary housing. If you don’t mind the noise and disruption, you can also keep track of construction progress by staying on site and living through the renovation.
It’s also important to make arrangements ahead of time to keep your pets out of harm’s way during remodeling. To protect your pets, enroll them in a daycare or ask a family member or friend to look after them during the project. If you decide to live in your home while work is being done, consider creating a safe room for your pets where they won’t be able to escape through open doors.
7. Work With Neighbors
Your home renovation can disrupt your daily schedule as well as your neighbors’ routines. Your neighbors may not take well to loud machinery, dust, and detours, which is why you should try your best to be a good neighbor during a remodel. Let them know when they should anticipate construction. Send a letter assuring them that you have the proper permits, and provide your contact information should they have any concerns.
Be sure to abide by city regulations, and limit construction hours to the day to avoid upsetting your neighbors. Make sure your contractor is also aware of these time restrictions, as working outside of regulated hours can lead to hefty fines. In addition, confer with your contractor about how their work may impact travel patterns. If your project involves demolition, work with them to come up with a clean up policy to keep the streets clear of any scrap metal, dirt or other debris.
Even after you’ve taken all precautions, there may still be neighbors who are bothered by your renovations. Instead of reacting negatively to their complaints, work with them to come up with a solution that addresses any inconveniences. When the project is complete, take time to thank your neighbors for cooperating through the process. This will help you maintain positive relationships for years to come.
* * *
Renovating is no small task. With these tips, you’ll ensure a smooth and successful home improvement project.