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A home renovation is an experience that is very rewarding but can often prove challenging to manage and execute. Depending on the age and status of the home being renovated, you may have a seamless project or run into unforeseen issues and unplanned expenses. In either case, being well prepared is key to a successful project. Here are ten things you should know before planning your home renovation.

1: Plan Around Surveys

Before planning your work, have a professional and licensed surveyor survey your project area. They will be able to give you insight into the condition of the property before you start remodeling and will give you an idea of what repairs you need to budget for as part of the renovation project. Ideally, you should get a structural survey performed, or a similarly in-depth survey that will actively root out potential problems and building defects that may not be immediately obvious. Additionally, these surveys could help you spot major issues like damp, rot, or cracks, all of which could cause major bumps in the road ahead, and significant investment to repair.

2: Have a Detailed Project Schedule and Plan

Without a project schedule your remodel can quickly turned into a disorganized and chaotic affair, with workers and contractors getting in each other’s way, or jobs that could have been performed concurrently being done over multiple days and costing you more. A schedule that lists the work that needs to be done and in what order will help guide your decisions for prioritizing work and delegating properly. For larger projects, you may want to break down the schedule into phases centered around key renovations you want done and having a separate schedule for each phase.

3: Budget for Needs and Wants

While budgeting, it’s easy to fixate on parts of the project that you care about more when determining where your money should go. Knowing your budget and sticking to it is one of the most important parts of renovation planning. Many experts recommend budgeting an additional 20% for unforeseen costs that may arise in the process, since there will always be unexpected bumps in the road that need to be managed. Additionally, ensure that your budget is well balanced; don’t spend most of your budget on construction only to be left with a nothing when it is time to fill the space.

4: Check for Existing Damage and Plan Accordingly

Often a renovation is started because the homeowners get tired of their house’s design and wish to remodel it to give it a new look, only to realize that the area being renovated also direly needs repairs. Threats like dry rot or mold can eat away at a house behind the scenes, or sub-par wiring or plumbing systems that need to be urgently repaired. Whatever the case is, it’s better to plan around these major repairs than to have them sprung on you mid-project. Make sure that you check your house for any of these kinds of damages and leave room in the budget to get them repaired.

5: Plan for Living During Construction

Many homeowners plan a remodel without considering how the remodel project will affect their lives. Homes that don’t have shut-off valves installed throughout the house, may force you to have to shut off the water at the main valve, leaving your entire home without running water. Households with children or pets need to make sure to plan accordingly to avoid needless dangers and disruptions. For projects that involve large-scale renovations that require the house to be uninhabited, you need to make sure that you have budgeted for living expenses and costs of renting a temporary place to live.

6: Consider your Routine

When designing your house, it’s very easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of your design more than the practicality or functionality of the design. When you plan to change things, it’s good to remember the flow of your routine through the house, where the choke points are, where the laundry needs to go, and so on, so that you can plan the house around your routine rather than readjust your routine to fit the new house design. Additionally, this comes in handy when scheduling contractors and making sure that the work being done is minimally disruptive to your normal routines.

7: Verify your Plans with Expert Opinions

Large renovations can often require the removal of load-bearing walls, cutting into roof timbers, widening windows or doors, or many other changes that can lead to structural failure if they’re not planned properly. To ensure that your renovation doesn’t result in a collapsed house, make sure you consult with a structural engineer for advice on placement of adequate supports to ensure that the house stays up around you. Ideally, you should meet with a licensed contractor in the schematic stage, so you can make sure you don’t fall in love with a design that is ultimately impossible to achieve. This also gives you the added benefit of having an expert make sure that your design is structurally safe, and within budget.

Be Wary of Scope Creep

For any plan you make it is important to set defined and concrete goals, and a renovation is no different. A renovation for resale and a renovation for a forever-home are two very different goals, and different considerations go into the design and budgeting for these goals. Having a specific plan can also help you avoid scope creep; it’s very easy for a homeowner to decide that they want to tack on a new section to their project half-way through construction just so that it matches, but one thing can quickly lead to another, resulting in an incomplete project that is far over budget and far from being finalized.

9: Do Your Research

You are not the first person to perform a renovation, and chances are you know someone who has performed a renovation within their home before. Make sure you ask them about the challenges they faced, and the work they did, as this wealth of information can guide many of your own decisions going forward, and you may get some very useful advice that will help you avoid some common pitfalls.

10: Choose Whether to DIY or Hire a Professional

For all but the simplest jobs, hiring a professional contractor is the way to go. Even if you have the required skills and experience, be realistic about what you can complete to your satisfaction. If you decide to hire a professional, hire one person who will be accountable for your project from start to finish. You can do this by working with a design build firm to ensure project management, designers, design assistants, etc. are all on the same page.

When reviewing websites design build contractors in your area, pay close attention to the services offered as well as any client testimonials. This information can help you to better understand how they operate before meeting for a consultation. Home renovations can be an exciting and daunting challenge, but with the proper planning, they should result in a successful outcome. Good luck!

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