When it comes to renovating a home, there’s always something new to learn, whether it’s your first flip or your fiftieth. We convinced a few renovation contractors to spill their top three tips they think everyone should know before they embark on a home renovation.
#1: Have a realistic scope of the work you want to complete.
As we mentioned in our post about understanding the difference between an interior designer and a renovation contractor, knowing exactly what work you want to complete is key before embarking on a renovation project of any level. According to Seth Kielas of Tahoe City, California’s Loverde Builders, being realistic is important because renovations always grow in scope.
You might be starting out on what you think is going to be a pretty straightforward project, but as you tear out walls, rip out flooring, etc. you may discover some unexpected surprises along the way. That’s why it’s important to be patient when doing a renovation project and understand that you won’t be able to plan for every eventuality that comes up, especially if it’s your first flip. Even still, think through every possibility and consult experts when creating your scope, so you can get as close to a realistic plan together before demo day.
#2: Have a realistic budget in mind and know the budget will change many times.
Being realistic about your budget is just as, if not more, important than being realistic about the scope of work you want to complete during your renovation. If you’re flipping a house to sell, you obviously want to make as much profit as possible.
Kielas notes that budgets always change, even when construction costs are provided in advance of starting a project, regardless of whether it’s new construction or a renovation project. Pad your expected costs a little to make room for surprises, but also make sure you know exactly where the money is coming from. It’s easy to ramp a budget up with an increase, but it’s difficult to switch to a lower budget after work begins because your funds didn't come through as expected. Once you get going, it’s hard to make sacrifices to lower the budget.
Lizzie Gupta, general manager of TRICOR Construction, also emphasizes the importance of having a budget in the first place. While there isn’t a standard cost for most things, since materials vary so widely, there are plenty of resources that can provide you with a range of what materials might cost. “Sites like Pinterest and Houzz, as well as magazines and blogs, will get [you] to a point where you’re reasonably educated on cost categories,” she said.
#3: Have the number of good interior designer to assist with decision-making.
When embarking on any size renovation project, having a good interior designer in your back pocket can be immensely helpful when it comes to making the design decision process easier. Instead of going to the tile store to pick out the backsplash for a kitchen and three bathrooms yourself, the designer will bring you two to three options to choose from, handling the leg work so you don't have to. This process can also helps keeps timelines efficient, by putting less on your plate.
Professional interior design makes life easier when it comes to sticking to a budget as well. You won't be tempted by unnecessary upgrades if your design partner is only bringing you in-budget choices. Additionally, Gupta stressed the importance of knowing what you want and bringing that vision to life. “Take measurements, make material lists, and set your budget.” She recommends doing this before calling a contractor, because even the best contractors can’t choose your marble for you. You need to make those decisions on your own or with professional help.
A good interior designer can also help you stay neutral, especially if you’re renovating a house to flip. You want to choose finishes that look good, but are also classic and will help a house sell as quickly as possible. Once you’ve finished a fix and flip project, you don’t want to sit on a "for sale" sign for months on end because you chose finishes that were too trendy for the neighborhood and/or your target buyer.
These are just a few of the secrets your renovation contractor wants you to know before embarking on your first (or next) renovation project. If you’ve done a renovation, are there any secrets you learned along the way?