Renovating house can be costly—but it doesn’t have to be scary. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our ten tips before you start on your next big project. This can get you off to a good start while renovating your home.

Undertaking a home renovation isn’t always as simple as contracting out work. Whether or not you hire help or do all of the work yourself, it’s always more than you think. Reconstructing major sections of your home is requires time, patience, and often more money than you’ve budgeted for.

However, that’s not to say that renovating a house is going to be next to impossible. With the right planning and preparation, you can get the job done on time, and hopefully under budget. Your renovation can also greatly increase the value of your home… Although it also may uncover other issues you’ll need to fix. Because of this, you stand to gain a lot by planning right and moving forward.

Here are ten things you should do before renovating your home.

1. Renovating House Costs

The biggest beast of any home renovation is cost, and for a very good reason.

For older and even newer homes alike, expect the unexpected. While pulling up the floor or tearing down the drywall. you may find mistakes by cheap homeowners or lazy craftsmen. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a perfect home, expenses do have a way of cropping up. Anything from new labor costs to last-minute price changes can push your project far beyond what you first expected.

That’s why budgeting is crucial to any successful remodel.

Photo of woman crunching numbers at desk.
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Before renovating a house, you need to crunch the numbers. Image: CC0 Public Domain Tommie Horton, U.S. Air Force via Robins Air Force Base.

Consider opening up a spreadsheet and laying out every expense you can think of concerning your build. If you have to estimate, do so liberally.

Once you’ve finished doing your math, add another 10-20% to your estimate. This will be a lot closer to the actual costs of your renovation. If it seems high, consider whether or not the renovation is worth it in the first place. While it’s possible to go under-budget, it’s not especially common, either.

2. Set Your Priorities

Is the budget you came up with for renovating house too much for you to handle? As much as you want to fix everything, you may need to shift gears. Try narrowing down the changes that are most important to you and focus more on those.

For example, let’s say you’re renovating your bathroom. You may want to replace that old, leaky tub and shower and leave the counters for another time.

However you set your priorities, do so in a way that allows you to change plans quickly. That way, you’ll be able to make quick decisions as the inevitable challenges present themselves.

3. Research Early & Often

In some cases, your renovation may involve heavy machinery or more work than you can handle yourself. If so, choosing the right contractors can make or break your project.

Rely on your network of friends and family far more than the ambivalent Internet. See who’s had work done recently, who they chose to hire, and how satisfied they were with their work.

When renovating a house, don’t be afraid to call for a quote, either. If you get stuck between three or four recommendations, consider their quote alongside their reviews. Since quotes are often rough estimates, don’t go with the highest number. Instead, make sure there’s some wiggle room in your budget.

4. When You Can, Do It Yourself (DIY)

Since costs are likely to escalate, it’s best to do as much yourself as you possibly can. Some brave souls even DIY their homes from scratch. When renovating a house, look over your project and note the tasks you can do yourself. Some may feel up to laminating floors or assembling cabinets after work. Others may feel they can better manage painting and cosmetic fixes.

Whatever your situation, take on as much as you can and leave only what you can’t to the pros. Knowing you’ve done a lot of the work yourself may give you a greater sense of pride and achievement.

Photo of happy DIY couple painting and renovating house.
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Not only does DIY save money but it can help you take greater pride in your home. Image: CC 2.0 Scott Lewis via Flickr.

5. Get Some Help

Most homeowners don’t live alone—and likewise, most homeowners can recognize people in their lives that can help out with their home renovation.

Once you’ve identified the projects you’d like to do yourself, invite friends over to help. As the old adage goes, more hands make lighter work. In addition, it’ll be a lot more fun. Make sure to have plenty of food and drinks on hand.

Finally, if you’ve got kids, give them some age-appropriate tasks. That’ll teach them some important life skills while bringing you closer together as a family.

6. Consider Moving Out

If you’ve contracted out a major project that will require weeks or months of work to complete, you might want to consider housing while the workers go about their business.

Ask your contractors whether moving out could help them finish your projects faster. If you work from home you may also want to ask yourself if you can handle the constant disruption.

Should you decide to move out, try staying with friends to keep costs down. You also may want to look into staying at a local Airbnb instead of a hotel. And remember to add these costs to your project budget.

7. Secure Your Stuff

Having contractors going in and out of your home may raise concerns about safety and security. This especially holds true if you decide to move out. While most contractors have strict guidelines, you may want to take some precautions.

If possible, lock off areas of your home that don’t require access, and remove valuables from common areas. In fact, consider any area of your home that contractors operate in as ‘public space’ and treat your valuables accordingly.

If you’re concerned about further issues, talk to the lead contractor and clarify your fears to avoid miscommunication and unchecked paranoia. More often than not, contractors know exactly how to go about keeping homes safe and secure while operating in them. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your home doesn’t pose any undue risks to the workers.

8. Visit Often

After securing your home, make sure to check in every day to see how the work’s progress.

These visits can give you peace of mind… However, take care not to annoy or micromanage the men and women working on your home. Talk to your contractor about the expected decorum when visiting and what you can and cannot do as per the contract. Try not to critique works in progress and allow the professionals to complete the job as instructed.

Ultimately, you paid these people to do their jobs—so don’t do anything that could compromise that agreement.

9. Keep An Eye On Your Contract

While on the subject of contracts, you will need to do what you can to make sure each stipulation is enforced or otherwise accounted for.

Many contractors work off of boilerplate contracts that have common stipulations between companies, so use the Internet to your advantage to see what is and is not allowed. After the home is completed, account for the deliverables you paid for and make sure nothing was missed.

At the same time, however, keeping an eye on your contract means holding up your end of the bargain. Therefore, if you choose to withhold payment or request changes for any reason, make sure your requests are allowed and dictated in writing before a single contractor arrives for work.

These contracts establish a clear protocol for both the homeowner and the workers alike, so assume nothing and allow the paper to establish the trust for you.

10. Log The Results

Finally, once your home is finished and, everything is back in its right place, mark off precisely what’s been done to your home. Keep this log with your throughout your visits to the site, and double check with your contractor to ensure accuracy.

While important for contractual reasons, keeping a log will also help you move forward with your home. Whether that means showing off the list at your local home improvement shop for aesthetic repairs or providing the information to those interested in purchasing your home, in either case—a log is useful.

Keep this log alongside your contract and any warranties you’ve accrued throughout the project. Everything can also be kept in a renovating house folder or similar location for tax purposes or otherwise for ease of access.

However you approach your home renovation project, the key is to do so with a plan and budget in mind. Keep an eye out for changes along the way, and you’ll be sure to end up with a finished project that’s as you intended it to be.

Featured image: Renovating House CC0 Public Domain via PX Here.

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