Mar 05, 2024

Planning a Home Renovation? Check Out Our Survival Guide First.

There aren’t many projects that are as crazy-making as a home renovation. The pushed deadlines… the construction noise… the dust and debris…  

But sometimes it’s a necessary evil! 30% of owners renovate to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials. Another 20% renovate to add features and improve livability. 16% just want a change, plain and simple. Whatever your motivation, some home improvements simply need to be made.  

With a little prep and some realistic expectations, though, you can cut down on stress and disruption. And you might even gain some home equity along the way — Calculate your after-repair value or ARV to see what your home may be worth post-renovation! 

Today, we’re revisiting our complete survival guide for home renovations, whether you’re filling a swimming pool or adding square footage. Read on for some of our top tips. 

Tip 1: Slow it Down  

Don’t be a hero. When your kitchen is torn down to the studs, you’ll want some simple comforts. Think: access to your own bathroom.  

Work Through One Space at a Time 

Consider renovating rooms, or portions of the house, one at a time. With this approach, you can tackle concerns in order of importance. For example, maybe you want to renovate the backyard. But maybe you need to renovate the master bath. 

Prioritize Big Projects 

This is especially important if there’s a structural or safety issue at play. That killer paint job or beautiful backsplash can wait. Large-scale repairs usually can’t.  

Large-scale home repairs: Projects that go beyond typical home maintenance. They often require substantial work and investment. Foundational repairs, structural repairs, etc.  

Spread Out Expenses 

You might also want to spread costs out over time. Instead of paying one lump sum, you can make small contributions as you go, all while saving up for future costs. Or, consider a cash-out refinance that would structure repayment of the investment over the life of your loan.  

Tip 2: Make a Schedule  

What happens when your family is suddenly sharing one bathroom instead of two? Who gets to shower and when? How do you manage everyone preparing for work/school?  

Enter: The master schedule. 

Our Home Renovation Schedule Checklist 

Your schedule should cover all important dates and time blocks, including: 

  • Which parts of the house are currently safe to use, and which are off-limits?  
  • The progress of renovations, including expected completion dates.  
  • Periods of high noise or activity.  
  • Dates and times that each family member has access to shared rooms.   

Of course, the schedule can (and will) change over time. But it provides at least a little bit of order for everyone involved.  

Tip 3: Stick to the Budget  

This one’s important! Home renovations can get pricy. Fast. Materials, labor, delays, and more can all add up.   

Steps for Sticking to a Home Renovation Budget 

Work through each step, one by one, so you don’t blow your budget. 

  1. Get clear on your goals. Which rooms do you want or need to renovate? What, specifically, do you want to change?  
  2. Do your research. Look up average costs for similar projects in your local market. Get quotes from a few different vendors and compare. Remember that the lowest price isn’t always best!  
  3. Take a look at your finances. How much can you afford? No, seriously, how much can you afford? You can consider savings, loans, mortgage loan refinance, and other sources, but don’t overextend yourself. 
  4. If necessary, adjust your budget or your goals. Cut anything that doesn’t fit the budget and is relatively low on the priority list.  
  5. Set aside contingency funds. Earmark this cash for unforeseen expenses. Unfortunately, they’re practically guaranteed to pop up.  
  6. Track expenses as you go. Hang on to every receipt and invoice. Watch the amount you’ve spent closely to make sure you don’t end up over budget. 

A photo of a coule sitting in bed and reviewing their home renovation budget on a tablet.

Tip 4: Prioritize Safety  

No new kitchen is worth injury or illness! During a home renovation, you can’t overlook the safety of you and your family.   

Watch Out for These Home Renovation-Related Hazards 

A few potential hazards might include:   

  • Exposed wiring  
  • Sharp tools  
  • Heavy machinery  
  • Hazardous materials (asbestos, lead-based paint, mold, mildew, dust, etc.)  

If you have kids or pets, you’ll need to be even more eagle-eyed.  

Safety Tips You Should Follow During a Home Renovation 

Safety will look different for every project, but a few of our top suggestions include:  

  • Research permits, codes, and regulations. 
  • Only work with licensed and insured professionals. 
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary. 
  • Seal off any areas being renovated. 
  • Consult with a structural engineer before making any major changes. 
  • Keep tools in good working condition and out of reach of children.  
  • Keep the renovation site clean, organized, and well-lit.  

Tip 5: Choose the Right Contractor  

Great teammates make all the difference. And unless you’re a construction worker yourself or plan to DIY, odds are you’ll be leaning on your contractor a lot. 

Look for These Qualities in a Great Contractor 

A few things you’ll find in a great contractor include:  

  • High-quality work. Look for skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail.  
  • Timely work. Are they committed to meeting deadlines? How can you be so sure? 
  • Industry knowledge. They should know local codes, permits, and regulations like the back of their hand.  
  • Strong communication skills. They’ll get back to you quickly and efficiently.  
  • Insurance and liability coverage. These policies protect both you and the contractor. Do not work with tradespeople who don’t have coverage! 
  • Solid reviews. Five-star service and glowing recommendations are a must.  
  • Reasonable costs. The right contractor is well within budget. 

Tip 6: Press Pause  

As you navigate the home renovation process, keep in mind that you’re allowed to take a break.  

Remind Yourself of Needs Versus Wants 

If something is not entirely necessary or is out of budget, it might be able to wait. For example, wainscotting, repainting, or other nice-to-haves. These features aren’t worth blowing the budget or the schedule. You can always circle back to finish that basement or perfect that paint shade.  

Think Hard on Every Decision 

Keep in mind that buyer’s remorse is a real thing! Don’t rush into any decisions or projects unless you feel completely confident.   

Pull Off the Ultimate Home Renovation 

We’re not saying things are sure to go off without a hitch. Or even that there won’t be moments of stress. But a little preparation sure goes a long way.  

If all else fails, just close your eyes, and go to your happy place. Maybe the finally finished kitchen?

* Specific loan program availability and requirements may vary. Please get in touch with your mortgage advisor for more information.