Home renovations of any size are a huge undertaking. The process is grueling, but the results of a remodel can be incredibly worth the work!
Whether you’re planning an entirely DIY home renovation or hiring contractors for the work, there is a lot to organize before getting started. Here are six factors to plan upfront to make your DIY home renovation as smooth as possible!
Determine Your Scope of Work and Timeline
The very first thing you’ll want to do is assess the scope of your remodel. What projects are you going to tackle? Is this a kitchen renovation or a complete house flip? Estimate the size of the renovation and then do a walkthrough of each space. As you walk, write down everything that needs to be done in each room from drywall repairs and painting to updating electrical wiring, fixtures, and lighting.
Start with your dream list — everything you could possibly consider remodeling. It’s much easier to start with that larger list and downsize than to plan for a smaller renovation and add more later. Even with a perfectly crafted dream renovation list, you’re bound to find new things to add as time goes on.
After you know all of the areas you want to address in your home renovation, you can start to construct a rough timeline for each project. Now is a good time to think about which tasks must be done before others. For example, if you’re doing a complete renovation, you’ll learn that A/C duct work gets done first, then plumbing, and last electrical, based on the size of the materials being fit behind the walls.
Now that you know what you want to do, it’s time to figure out how much of the work you’ll be doing yourself versus hiring out.
Should You Be Your Own General Contractor?
When you’re doing a renovation, you’ll need to consider whether you want a general contractor (GC) to be there overseeing and managing everything or if you’re able to fill that role yourself. This is where it gets tricky because hiring a general contractor is more expensive than doing it yourself.
One good way to evaluate this decision is to look at the size of the project and how much money you are investing into it. For a larger home renovation, you’ll want the oversight of a GC if one is still within the budget.
A general contractor will be the one who finds the rest of the subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, A/C companies, painters, etc.), schedules them in order based on progress, and is also held responsible for keeping people on track for deadlines.
If you’re highly organized and have a flexible schedule, being the “general contractor” yourself instead of hiring someone may be a good option. GCs usually charge 10% extra to be the managing person so it can be an easy way to save a bit of money.
Even if you do the project with a general contractor, you’ll still be outsourcing work to other vendors or contractors that may not be from the same company as your GC. Here are a few types of contractors you may need to research:
- Tile installer
- Cabinet company
- Countertop fabricator (learn which countertops are best for you!)
- Drywall installation or wall texturing
Pro tip: Ask for recommendations from people in your area for contractors they have used for home renovations in the past.
Interview Contractors and Get Quotes
Once you have a potential list of contractors, interview them and obtain rough quotes for the jobs. If you don’t like the personality of a contractor, don’t hesitate to move on. This is someone you’ll have to work closely with and if your personalities clash, it could turn ugly!
If you have a bad gut feeling about someone, trust that and move on.
It’s helpful to get at least two quotes to see how drastic the variation in pricing may be from company to company. After reviewing two quotes, if you find there is a large gap between them, consider getting a third quote to figure out what a median standard might be.
Set a Budget
After you have your to-do list and your rough estimates, start building a budget. Now, if you have a budget already set due to an amount you have saved, this is still an important part of the process so that you make sure what you want to do fits within your budget. Since you started with your ultimate dream list, it shouldn’t be too hard to remove some things to make it more realistic to fit within your budget.
Make sure you include everything you possibly can in your budget. That includes contractor fees, materials, inspection fees, truck or trailer rentals for hauling, tool rentals, etc.
It’s helpful to sit down and go room to room to write down EVERYTHING that is needed, including wall outlets, light switch covers, and door hardware all the way to the larger items like lighting and plumbing fixtures. If you’re working with a contractor, you’ll want to fully understand what materials they are providing. Usually, they will be responsible for any building materials, but you’ll want to make sure you understand what you’re responsible for buying before making your budget.
Open a Bank Account for Your Home Renovation
Whether you have saved money for your renovation or you are getting a home equity loan or other types of financing, it is incredibly helpful to have a dedicated account for your renovation. This way you won’t have to weed through personal transactions versus renovation transactions when you’re trying to balance your budget.
Pro tip: Look into high-yield savings accounts to let your money grow during the process of planning and executing your diy home renovation!
Having a separate bank account is not an excuse to forgo keeping receipts, though! Many home renovation updates can be used as tax deductions. Be sure to speak to your accountant about which updates to your home may be a tax benefit as well.
Clean, Purge, and Demo
The demolition phase is when the renovation really begins to take shape. Careful planning before you start swinging is a must! Be sure to talk to your contractor (if applicable) before beginning to be sure of what, if anything, should remain intact. Pay careful attention to protect floors, walls, light fixtures or any other parts of your renovation area that are not being replaced.
Take this opportunity to clean and purge the space. Do you have old pots and pans you throw into the back of the cabinet and never use? Are the curtains in your living room falling apart? Take the time now to get rid of those eye sores and headaches so that you can be sure you’re able to fill your new space with only the items you love! If parting with old belongings sounds intimidating, read this: How to be Happier with Less.
Let the Renovation Begin!
Now that you’ve planned, budgeted and contracted out at least part of the work, it’s time to begin. Though there may be stressful times, enjoy the process that you’ll be able to reminisce about from your newly renovated space!