A few weeks ago, we release a podcast episode about things we wish we’d known before renovating. In that episode, we talked about how renovations are often extremely challenging but extremely WORTH IT in the end. That is so true! Although renovations are challenging, there are some things that you should consider BEFORE starting your renovation process that might take a little of the stress away in the long run. It may take you a little extra time and energy to do these things on the front end, but it will pay off in the long run when you’ve got a plan you’re ready to execute.
1 - Create A Project Overview
This one is pretty obvious, but you need to think about what you’re doing and what all that entails (as much as you can at least). Write it down - bullet points are fine, or if you want to get a little more detailed that’s ok too! This could be a pretty quick or pretty long process based on the size of your project. If you’re doing a smaller renovation that includes mostly cosmetic changes, sometimes there isn’t a ton to think through! You might just need to decide on things like:
Furniture changes (placement and/or replacement)
New Light Fixtures
Do your research to figure out what it is you’re looking for, then get going!
If you’re thinking about doing a larger renovation, there is obviously a lot more to think about. Do you need to bring in extra help, subcontractors, or even a general contractor? Are you making any structural changes that might require a structural engineer to take a look at your project? Does your project require extensive demo? If you’re doing the project yourself, do you have all the tools you need to finish the project? If you’re hiring out the project, do you know who to hire? The larger the renovation, the more time you should take on the front end creating a project overview and researching your options. It can be tempting to just get going on a project when it’s front of mind, but doing that without proper consideration will ultimately result in mistakes and a prolonged renovation. And nobody wants renovations to be any longer than they inherently are!!
2 - Think About Budget
This is a big one, and I’m a nerd so I love talking about budgets. Coming up with a budget can be really challenging. Again, the larger the project the more intense budgeting becomes - gathering quotes, thinking through materials, estimating unknown costs, all that takes a lot of time and energy. Generally speaking, there are two ways that people choose to budget for projects:
Quote out and estimate all project costs, then save to complete
Save (or use savings) a specific number and cap the project at that
We’ve had clients approach this both ways, and you can approach your renovation whichever way you prefer! If you’re going to quote everything out at the beginning to be able to save, that simply takes a lot of time up front to get that done. The advantage is that you know exactly what you want and how much it costs from the get go, so barring any major setbacks you can get a pretty good idea of total project cost from the onset. If you’ve saved a more arbitrary number for a project, that’s great too! Budgeting this way is a great way to feel comfortable from the onset with what you’re spending on the project, and you can pick finishes and furniture pieces that fit into that budget without being stressed about overspending.
There are a few budgeting tools that you can use to help with budgeting your project. Firstly, if you’re hiring an interior designer, they will be able to help you manage your budget and let you know what you can and can’t fit into what you’re wanting to spend. I would say it’s one of our greatest services as an interior design team to help people make the most of their money, not only in having general knowledge on pricing but also in the time we save our clients sourcing material, labor, and product. In fact, you can usually get general budget numbers from simply doing a consultation with an interior designer! It’s low risk for you, as it will probably cost $100-$200, but the amount of time it saves you and the ideas you’ll gain from that consultation will be well worth it.
Secondly, and this may seem rudimentary, but Microsoft Excel is going to be your best friend if you’re doing a project budget yourself. Or Numbers if you’re a mac user (which I’m actually a Mac user but use Excel, but I digress). Get familiar with it and make yourself a good old fashioned spreadsheet with costs, quotes, etc. so you can have everything in front of you. It’s really one of the only ways to keep that much information organized, especially for larger projects.
The last thing I’d specifically recommend whichever way you decide to budget would be to expect and save about 10% extra for uh ohs and just in cases. If you’ve ever done a renovation or know anyone who has done a renovation or ever watched a renovation happen on HGTV, you know uh ohs happen. It’s much better to be prepared for the uh ohs than to have them sneak up on you. Go ahead and plan for it, and if you end up not using your uh-oh fund, go have a nice dinner somewhere.
3 - Don’t Forget To Check The Calendar
The last thing you’re going to want to look at before your renovation begins is a calendar. Now that you’ve already gone through the process of mapping out WHAT your project will look like and HOW SOON you’ll be ready to get started budget-wise, you need to pull out a calendar and look at what’s ahead. How long are you estimating your project will take? Are there any holidays coming up that you don’t want to overlap with your project? Are there any holidays coming up that you want to have your project completed by? Are you going to be traveling for work or with your family over the next few months, and does that impact whether you want to start now or delay? Maybe you are traveling, and you want the project to get done while you’re gone! There’s a lot to consider, so check the calendar before starting
Again, projecting a timeline is another service an interior designer can help with. Designers will generally be able to give you a good indication of how long your project will take to complete. They can work with you to get things done while you’re out of town, or give you a realistic indication of if the project can be done by that holiday gathering you have in the back of your mind.
And much like the budget, you’ll want to give yourself a little extra time than you think for the completion of the project if at all possible. Especially with larger projects there are a lot of unknowns that come up and cause delays. Giving yourself a few weeks (or months when possible) buffer time will save you a load of stress during the renovation process.
Spark Notes Version
Renovations are challenging, but there is great reward with great patience. If we can encourage you to do three things before your reno starts, we think you’ll have a much better process throughout:
Create a Project Overview - having the big picture in mind from the beginning helps avoid pitfalls and roadblocks
Think About Budget - considering this ahead of time helps to keep you from stressing about it later
Don’t Forget To Check The Calendar - don’t start a renovation the week before you have your entire 30 member extended family over for Thanksgiving.
What other questions do you have about renovation? Comment below!