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Top 5 Home Renovation Tips (What You Need to Know)

Are you planning to do a renovation project? If so, yay for you! Renovating your home is a big step towards personalizing something builder-basic (or just plain outdated) and making it your own.

I’ve done my fair share of renovating. Some were smaller, DIY room remodels and others were huge transformations with builders, plumbers, and electricians coming and going for weeks.

It’s just so gratifying! Who doesn’t love a dramatic before and after?

Check out the rest of the home library renovation! 

Renovating your home is a worthwhile investment, of both your time and your money. But let’s be real — it isn’t all shiplap and gleefully blowing out walls. Here are 5 things you need to know before starting your renovation project.

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Are you planning a renovation this year? Before you begin, here are 5 things you must know about doing a home renovation project. Home renovation is exciting but you need to go in prepared! And guess what? Mistakes aren't the end of the word...

1. Your Renovation Will Go Over Budget

I’m sorry to say, your renovation will very likely go over budget. No matter how well you plan, or how frugal you are, there’s a contingency budget for a reason. If you truly need to meet a certain budget, take what you have to spend then multiply that number by .85 to be on the safe side. Pretend that’s your actual budget so when things come up where you need to spend, it won’t cause a panic.

During our most recent renovation we ran into these unexpected expenses:

  • The need for additional ductwork
  • Moving the water heater to the other side of the house
  • A special pump grinder for the toilet (ew)
  • Upgraded sheetrock to maximize sound quality
  • I won’t bore you with the rest…

The takeaway: Somewhere along the line, you’ll likely need to dip into the contingency fund. Some of it might be optional, some not so optional, but prepare for it.

2. Your Renovation Will Take Longer Than You Expect

Your project will probably run behind schedule. You need to know this before you start renovating or you’re setting yourself up for weeks (or months) of frustration and disappointment.

Whether it’s a backordered faucet or a plumber that’s come down with the flu, it’s almost unheard of to finish a renovation project exactly on time. There are so many moving parts to a home remodel that there’s bound to be a setback or two. Mentally tack a couple of weeks onto the timeline to lessen the blow.

That said, renovations that drag on for months after the projected end date? That’s unacceptable unless there’s an unavoidable reason that’s been clearly laid out for you with a new end date communicated.

The takeaway: Constant, clear, and respectful communication with your contractor should keep everything reasonably on track if you hired a good one.

things to know before renovating: you'll regret some of your choices

3. You’ll Make at Least One Decision You Regret

Making one or two bad choices during your renovation is inevitable. Listen, you’re about to be making an obscene number of selections based on something a little uncertain and abstract. When it all comes together, there will be at least one thing that you’ll look at and think, “hmmm, I really wish I’d done (fill in the blank) instead.” This is a SUPER important thing to know before renovating.

Here’s an example: The barn door that leads to our hot yoga room. It’s stunning, but I didn’t think through that gap between the door and the wall. Now there’s a significant amount of heat loss when we use the room unless we line the door with rolled up towels. At least it’s pretty…

The takeaway: Give yourself some grace. In time, the sting of the misstep will fade and you’ll either fix or forget whatever it is.

4. You’ll Have to Compromise

There will be at least one thing you’ll need to compromise on during your renovation. Unless you’re one of those families that makes millions on YouTube doing toy reviews, you’ll have to accept that not everything you want will be in your budget or logistically possible.

Things that seem simple often aren’t and probably cost a lot more than you think. Knocking down every wall in your house to make a big open space? Yeah, factor in the extra labor and cost of the massive steel beams that will need to hold up your whole house. We planned to do that in the basement but guess what? Knocking out just two support columns was almost 8K.

So we compromised and built walls around the columns to make our not-so-hot yoga room. Which actually turned out to be better than one big room anyway.

The takeaway: It’s always a good idea to keep your list of non-negotiables as small as possible.

5. You’ll Need A Good Renovation Plan

All successful renovations start with a solid plan. Before you start your remodeling project, take a little time to work out exactly what it is you want to achieve and what it will take to get there. Sure, it’s a bit of work, but look at it as dreaming with purpose.

The takeaway: This helpful (free!) project planner.

Want more? Here’s the full collection of Bloom in the Black decorating posts. If you’re interested in having me cover a particular topic, shoot me an email and I’ll add it to the list!

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