Eight Ways to Renovate Without Breaking Your Back or the Bank

So you’re planning a home renovation before the fall? If you are planning a really major overhaul, the unpalatable news is that you almost certainly won’t have time to complete it before the summer solstice. Any large-scale renovation always takes longer than you think and always costs more than you budgeted. If, on the other hand, your job is fairly minor — a DIY effort in the kitchen or bathroom — your chances of accomplishing your goals are much greater. Here are a few tips to remember/heed before you get started. So let’s hit the ground running…

1. Why are you renovating? Is it just to make the bathroom look all pretty in pink? Is it to establish a feel-good factor? Are you trying to impress the Jones’? As a general rule, renovations born out of a desire for self-improvement — even a householder’s vanity — are feasible in a short time span. If, on the other hand, you want to increase your home’s value, improve energy efficiency or meet the needs of a growing family, it will take longer. You won’t be able to increase the value of your home by thousands of dollars overnight.

2. Create a realistic budget. Set a limit — don’t be too stingy, however — and try to stick to it. Most renovators fail to do their homework in advance. They then get into trouble. Even small jobs, such as redoing a kitchen or bathroom, can take a month or more of planning, especially if you need to find a contractor, create a design, and make other decisions. If hiring others, a general rule is to budget for $200 per square foot.

3. Get a good contractor.
If you’re outsourcing your job, it’s obviously important to find skilled professionals. Don’t accept the first quote you get and never assume that the lowest sum is best. They may be cowboys who are no good at the job. Seek references, but make sure they are real references, not fake plaudits from friends or family. Find out the last major jobs the contractors undertook and talk to the client. Was the contractor efficient? Did he complete the job on time and on-budget?

4. Do not disrupt your family life/neighborhood too much.
If your child comes home from school at 4 p.m. to find that there is no place to do homework in peace amid all the banging and crashing, this simply won’t do. If you have time, you could get the work done before the children go back to school or, preferably, while they are at summer camp. Remember to do your neighbors the courtesy of telling them when renovations will start. Be careful of work that overruns the perimeters of your house and extends beyond your area. Do you have the right to do this? Don’t assume that you can just build an extension to your roof. You may be blocking someone else’s view. Do you have planning permission?

5. Prioritize tasks. Sometimes a job isn’t worth doing simply because nature or the surroundings don’t flatter the area concerned. If that spare room gets no light and no sunshine — and you try to spend as little time as possible there — you may give it a miss. On the other hand, if a living room basks in the afternoon sun and is in a good location, far more people are likely to approve of your decision.

6. Don’t rock the foundations.
If you are planning major work on your own, remember to take care. Are you an experienced builder or architect? Don’t assume that removing a pillar here and there will not destabilize the foundations of the house. Don’t undertake complex excavation work without either knowing what you are doing – or consulting with someone who does.Take special care when climbing ladders and painting ceilings.

. Take care of personal belongings. There’s nothing worse than damaging some precious item in the process of renovations. What’s the point of spending thousands of pounds or working for weeks on end only to find that you damaged that precious Steinbeck grand piano. Time wasted! You will need to ensure that all your precious goods are preferably out of the way or well concealed. Tarps can do a great job at concealing and protecting your furniture and belongings as they are strong, sturdy, and very resilient.

8. Don’t splurge on furniture – unless you can really afford it. Replacing large items of furniture can be very costly and sometimes to no great effect. For example, new chairs do not necessarily transform a room. On the other hand, a magnificent chandelier in the dining room would cause guests to look at it appreciatively. Remarkable improvements can be carried out at a lower cost simply by reupholstering that old sofa, buying a throw rug for the bedroom or purchasing fresh linen and cushions. If you do buy furniture, ensure that it is durable.

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