When I began my project, I created a spreadsheet and simply added everything I knew we wanted to buy. I added my flooring choice (calculated to include waste), lighting, faucets, paint, countertops, cabinet hardware, outlets and switch plate covers, tile, grout, appliances, and more! I had to make calls to get quotes for materials and labor, and even added tax to my budget sheets. After my spreadsheet was created, I could see areas that were eating up a lot of my budget, and then make adjustments by choosing less expensive materials, or deciding to cut out items altogether.
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From the tiles that will go on the walls to the appliances that will be installed, anyone who has completed a home renovation before knows that it is better to have just about everything picked out before you begin the work. This is because you will need to make numerous decisions once the renovation starts, and the more you’ve made beforehand, the better off—and better educated—you will be. Online tools like Pinterest, showroom visits, and/or material samples can help, and don’t be afraid to start purchasing items to get the ball rolling.
If you jump into a remodeling project with an ambiguous contract or no contract at all, you may as well hire an attorney and set a court date right away. "The contract needs the right address, a start date, a completion date, and a detail of what is and is not going to be done," says Rosie Romero, founder of Legacy Custom Builders in Scottsdale, Arizona.
If you're unsure of which design style or paint color to use, hire a designer. They'll use discriminating taste and a trained eye to help with making the big decisions. Also, remodeling your home with a cohesive plan in mind makes all of your choices easier and ensures a pulled-together finished look. So, when you get the right mix of time or money, you'll know exactly which project to take on next.
If you have a larger budget and can afford to hire a carpenter to make custom-built shelves for your library, that’s amazing, and I 100% wish I could do that. But for those of us who are trying to stretch our dollars, there’s IKEA! I’ve used IKEA pieces as the base for my projects many times, from my cabinet workspace solution to my kiddos’ toy storage, and soon in the study at my new house.
One of a room's most neglected spaces, the ceiling, makes up one-sixth of a room's total area. Updating your home's ceilings will net a lot of bang for the buck while adding architectural interest. First, if you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a contractor to scrape them smooth. To add a sophisticated custom look to a smooth ceiling, install crown molding or box beams for a coffered look. Ceiling millwork, an attractive feature prevalent in older homes, is rarely found in newer construction. Adding small touches like these will help your home stand out from the pack.
Whether you decide to hire a general contractor or individual subcontractors for the job, it’s important to find the right team to complete your home renovation. While word-of-mouth recommendations from friends might be enough for some, you may also consider doing a full-blown check on your contractor—looking into their license, certificate of insurance, lien history, bond number, and certification—to ensure you’re dealing with a professional who is in good financial standing. Equally important is finding a contractor you get along with and who understands your vision, so it can be helpful to have an interview or preliminary discussion before the formal engagement of services.
For most people, their home is their single largest investment, so treat it that way. Hire a financial planner to work out a strategy for protecting your investment by analyzing all of the financing options that are available. A financial whiz can tell you if you should refinance to lower your monthly payments or pull out some equity to pay for value-adding improvements.
Get the most bang for your buck by spending more on statement items, such as quartz countertops or a statement stove, but reserve funds in other less impactful areas. This is a balance you’ll have to figure out yourself, since it varies so much depending on your project and style inclinations. But, in general, I like to spend more money on hardware and less on doors/cabinets. Find your own balance, but don’t make the mistake of going too fancy with an appliance only to install cheap formica countertops. The key is to find balance, not extremes.
Home renovations have been some of the most exciting, but also most trying times in my life. My biggest advice is to just know yourself and what you’re cut out for, and don’t get in over your head, budget-wise. No beautiful home is worth the anxiety that comes along with consumer debt! If you have the extra money, it’s worth saving yourself the stress and hiring out the work, as long as you found someone good and trustworthy—otherwise it may equal even more stress! Sometimes homebuilding also equates to character building, and I’m talking about personal growth here, not investment growth. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.