Home Renovation Tips that will Save Time and Money
In 2019 my husband and I renovated our whole house, and Carolynn decided it looked like so much fun she would do it too. While the end result has been amazing the road to get here was ummmm… a little bumpy. So we decided, why not share some of the home renovation tips we picked up along the way. Some we knew before and others we learned the hard way.
So kick back, relax, and hopefully we can save you a few home reno headaches!
If this is your first time here, welcome! If you’ve been here before, thank you so much for spending your time with me. My name is Lindsay and I‘m a proud Anthem resident and your local REALTOR® with the Wise Move AZ Team at Realty ONE Group. On this blog and our YouTube Channel we have a lot of fun talking about all things Anthem and real estate every single Thursday, and we absolutely love having you along for the ride.
What You’ll Need
When it comes to navigating a successful home renovation there are two things you must have:
- A Plan
- A Sense of Humor
Seriously, renovating your house will probably frustrate you in ways you never thought possible and you’ll learn about things you had absolutely no interest in whatsoever. I mean, we’ve had conversations that spanned several days over the proper sizing of a shower drain. Not exactly riveting stuff, but in the moment you get so invested in it. Anyways, you’ll need that sense of humor and a ‘roll with it’ attitude when things inevitably veer off plan.
Renovation Pitfalls to Avoid
My hope with this video is that we can save you a couple of trips off course. I can’t promise that your renovation will go smoothly because I’m not even convinced that’s possible, but we hope that you can enjoy the ride as much as we have, and that the end result is more than you ever imagined!
Pitfall #1: Spending Too Much or Too Little Time at the Home
What? Yup, you heard that right. You need to find the perfect balance of time spent at home and time away from home, during your renovation projects. For our whole house renovation there was NO WAY we could live in the house while the work was being done. I mean there were weeks without toilets. If you’re doing a whole house renovation and you can go and stay with family, friends, or even rent something in the interim, DO IT! Trying to live through the dust and noise will probably shorten your lifespan.
On the other end of the spectrum I don’t want you to schedule your contractors and go lay on the beach in Mexico for a month while they work. No way! Even if you are hiring out all of the work I feel strongly that you need to be there to check on the house every day. In fact when we were renovating our house, we were often over here several times a day.
You need to make sure that everything is going according to plan and budget. If you see something that looks off, say something right away. During Carolynn’s renovation she noticed that they had dry-walled over the niche in the shower. It was supposed to stay. Anyways, because Carolynn noticed it that day they were able to correct it right away. If she hadn’t said something and the tile work had started, it would have been a much bigger headache for everyone involved.
Pitfall #2: Not Getting Multiple Quotes
I know it’s hard to find good contractors you can trust, but it’s really important that you get multiple estimates before starting a project. It helps to keep everyone honest, and it can help to compare the services one contractor offers over another. I found that comparing quotes from different contractors prompted me to ask questions I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. You’re rarely comparing apples to apples. I’m definitely not saying you should always choose the cheapest quote every time, either. I am a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for’. Anyways, even though it’s a pain, try to get more than one quote for each project.
Pitfall #3: Not Building a Budget or a Timeline
Did you catch that, you need a budget and a timeline, otherwise this thing is going to go on forever and cost you a fortune. I want you to be realistic in building both, which means talking to contractors, getting quotes and understanding their availability. I think we all have champagne taste when it comes to home renovations. Seriously, we’re completely spoiled by HGTV and Pinterest, but if you’re like me, you’re also more than likely on that beer budget. You need to reign in your expectations. Spend only what you can realistically afford and what you’re comfortable with.
With respect to your timeline, you need to lock at the order in which projects need to be completed. I will touch on that a bit more later on. Once you have your order, you need to understand when each contractor can start, if they can work simultaneously, and how long they need to complete their portion of the work. I recommend mapping it out and setting yourself calendar reminders throughout, so that you can confirm that you’re still on track. In addition to mapping out the contractors, you need to understand what supplies they need you to have on hand at what point. For example, if you’re redoing your master bathroom, find out when they need the shower fixtures, and so on. Sometimes you can’t Amazon Prime everything you need and you’ll be held up because of shipping delays. Map it all out!
Pitfall #4: Doing Too Little
We’ve had a lot of fun doing little projects around the house, but when it comes to renovations, I recommend going a little bit bigger. For example, if you want to do your floors but you know that it won’t go with your counter tops, oh and you should really paint the cabinets, and so on and so on. I recommend saving up and doing it all at once. The satisfaction and wow factor of getting it all done feels so much better, and you’re not having to live in a state of limbo. Save up, and save your sanity by doing as much as you can at once.
Pitfall #5: Not Communicating Clearly
When it comes to your renovations you need to be clear about what you want and then you need to communicate that to your contractors, clearly. Personally, I like to use photos and talk about things while in the house, so that we have the area in question in front of us. This is because I am NOT a construction expert and I do not have all the professional lingo down pat. So when I very technically refer to the wooden thingy at the bottom of the cabinet, they know that I am referring to the kick plate, and can make much more professional notes. They’re the experts and I want to lean on their experience, but I also want to make sure that we’re all on the same page. This is especially important when it comes to decorative elements because we all have unique taste. For example, at our house we took a unique approach to our door frames. If we had said nothing, the contractors likely would have assumed we wanted the standard mitered corners. Anyways, communicate often, openly, and ask LOTS of questions.
Pitfall #6: DIYing Too Much
Can I just say I definitely ‘married up’ in the DIY department. My husband is so insanely skilled when it comes to projects around the house, I don’t even know how he does it. But even he would be the first to say that just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD when it comes to your home renovation. For example, we could have painted our home but when we looked at the other work he could get done in that amount of time and the cost to hire someone to do the painting for us, it just made more sense to hire it out. When deciding what you’re going to DIY versus hire out I want to think about your time, the cost to do it yourself, the cost to hire it out, and the quality of work. In many cases, contractors can get the supplies for less money or they can source higher quality products.
Additionally, I don’t want you to bite off more than you can chew. Renovations are a lot of work even if you hire most of it out. Take on only the pieces you really enjoy and can do well. You want to be proud of the results without feeling too burned out. Instead of painting our house we opted to lay the flooring instead. The cost savings of tackling this project ourselves was much greater than the painting we hired out.
Pitfall #7: Overlooking the Value of a General Contractor
A general contractor is someone who oversees the day to day aspects of the project and manages the other contractors on the job. They’re basically an angel if you’re about as construction savvy as I am. Thankfully for us, because of his background my husband was able to act as our general contractor. If you have limited experience with home renovations or if you simply don’t have the time to manage the project every single day, I strongly recommend that you consider hiring a general contractor. This way, you’re communicating with one person, and they’re laser focused on bringing your dreams to life. They’re also going to be an expert when it comes to planning the order and what contractors to hire. They’ll be able to fix issues before you even knew you had a problem. For example, at our house, I had my heart set on a waterfall counter top in the kitchen… because Pinterest. Thanks to my general contractor, we worked out all of the structural components to make it possible, that I never would have even considered.
Anyways, long story short, make sure there’s someone who really knows what they are doing at the helm of the ship. It will save a lot of headache.
Pitfall #8: Not Protecting Your Personal Items
Renovations create dust like you wouldn’t believe. Seriously, I thought we might never get ourselves out from all the dust. This is particularly true if you are removing tile. Even if you do ‘dustless tile removal’, spoiler alert, it’s not completely dustless. Remove as many of your personal items from the home before you start the project as you possibly can. I am telling you, the dust will get inside every nook and cranny. It’s like sand at the beach. For the things you can’t move like furniture, move it all into one space, if possible and cover it tightly with plastic sheeting. The sheeting isn’t expensive and you will be so grateful in the end. Not only does this protect you from dust but also from errant paint splatters, and so on.
Pitfall #9: Being a Bad Neighbor
Nobody wants to be a bad neighbor. Will your renovation impact your neighbors? If so, go and talk to them beforehand. A little heads up can go a long way. In addition you need to think about any rules or laws you need to abide by before starting your project. Are there HOA rules you need to consider? For example, in Anthem Country Club you can’t have contractors working on non-emergency projects on Sundays and holidays. Are their city bylaws that come into play? What about building codes and permits? Your contractors will be able to help with this but they’re all things you want to consider beforehand. Seriously, when Carolynn was doing her renovations they realized at the last minute that they needed a permit to put a dumpster on their driveway. They were able to get it really quickly, but the more last minute panics you can avoid, the better.
Pitfall #10: Assuming it makes more sense to renovate than to move
This should really be one of your first steps. We all get caught up in the beautiful remodels we see on TV and online, but does it really make sense to do all the work to your home or could you buy an already upgraded home and come out the same financially? This one is going to require some serious math and possibly the help of a REALTOR® in your area, but bear with me. Here in Anthem we don’t always see the return on investment when people do extensive remodels. Could you sell your current home, taking into account all the fees associated with that and buy an already upgraded home or even a new home and come out the same?
For us, the answer was no. We bought a real fixer-upper and my husband was able to do a lot of the work himself, which helped to keep our renovation costs down. The other perk of doing the renovations ourselves, as opposed to buying an already upgraded home was that we could pick everything to our taste. Anyways, the same may not be true for you and it’s definitely worth having this tough conversation before you take a sledge hammer to the master shower.
So, there you have it! What do you think? Has this helped to guide your renovation process? I would love to hear any other tips or horror stories you have. We’re all learning here, so let’s help each other out.
Also, if you’re on a bit of a DIY kick but don’t want a whole house renovation, you may want to click and watch this video with DIY Home Improvement ideas, or if you’re looking for ways to increase your energy efficiency at home, click to watch this video.
Enjoy those and I’ll see YOU next Thursday!