Preparing for your major renovation: 10 steps
Homeowners spend more than $300 billion a year on residential renovations and repairs in the United States alone. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies just released its Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) report, which projects that the annual spending on residential improvements and repairs by homeowners is expected to reach nearly $350 billion by mi-2019.
If you are part of that projection, here are ten things to keep in mind when planning for a major renovation or other home improvement project:
1. Assume it will take longer
You might finish on time. But be prepared, because you might find something behind the wall, the inspector might force a change, or a blizzard might hit at the wrong time. There are all sorts of reasons why your renovation might take longer than expected, including:
Changes you decide to make
Changes you are forced to make
Difficulty scheduling sub-contractors
Delivery delays for appliances, materials and other items
Have a plan for where you will stay, whether you will be on vacation, where to put the in-laws when they visit, and more.
2. Assume it will cost more
You probably already have a budget—but most projects cost more than planned. Costs regularly end up 25% or more over budget for major renovations. As you start to open up walls and pull up flooring, you discover all kinds of things. Sometimes costs rise due to surprises, and sometimes you make choices along the way that increase spend. Either way, make sure that you have a plan for how to manage any additional costs.
3. Plan for your daily grind
Renting a house can be a great option (especially if it is nearby), but might not be in your budget. During planning, take a few days to pay attention to your daily routine. Some examples:
Do you wake up and head straight for the coffee before getting dressed? Make sure you have access to the kitchen without going outside and around a room being renovated. If not, come up with a way to make sure you get your morning cup of caffeine.
Doing a kitchen reno? Take a page from the co-founders of Pocketdoor and pair an induction cooktop like this one with a counter-top microwave to get dinner ready.
Limited parking? A lot of professionals get an early start. If they are going to be parking in your spots, make sure you will be out in time.
4. Don’t forget Rover
Construction zones can cause anxiety and can be dangerous for pets. New people, tools and materials in the house can be enticing for curious curious dogs, cats and other pets. In addition to making sure your pet is safely secured in a create or another part of the house, also think about how noises can impact your pets.
5. Consider other materials
There is a good chance that there are more materials available to you today than when your home was built. Don’t just consider materials you are replacing or are elsewhere in the home. There are many materials that are less expensive, perform better, and are easier to maintain that the last time you made these choices. Keep an open mind.
6. Focus on what is important (to you)
Think carefully about what is important to you and start there. For example, if care more about entertaining than cooking, then you might want to use some of that kitchen space for a counter-top with more seating and a little less prep/cooking area, or let your dining room take up a little more floor space than your kitchen.
7. Interview professionals
When you bought your home, you probably looked at multiple properties (even if they were prior sales). When hiring designers and contractors, make sure to talk to more than one. Have some pre-determined questions for all of them so you can make better comparisons.
And if you have design inspirations, add them to a Pocketdoor Inspire board and share it with the pros:
8. Focus on more than price
It is tempting to hire the professional with the lowest estimate. But be careful. Sometimes the lowest estimate may not be taking everything into account. Look at the line items. Ask for more detail. Find out where they think the budget might go over.
9. Avoid changes
Change orders can be necessary. But be careful about making too many changes along the way. These can really add to your timeline and final bill.
10. Enjoy your project!
Major home improvement projects can be stressful and tiring, but they can also be a lot of fun. Don’t forget to have fun during the planning, design and execution process as much as you can!