Home Improvement and Remodeling Tips
Do you spend hours talking to your significant other about possibly moving an interior wall to free up more space for your kitchen or what the old butler’s pantry may look like if your restored the original walnut trim? If so, you may be itching to renovate a portion of your home. And if you live in an older home (build before 1950 or so) then you may need to renovate out of necessity.
I’ve spent many hours with my super handy father renovating and maintaining our early 20th century foursquare center hall colonial and I’ve come up with some easy tips to keep in mind before you tackle your next big project:
1. Don’t Hire Who You Don’t Know (well, either directly or indirectly via a referral). Never, under any circumstance, hire someone to work on your house if you haven’t used them before, received several referrals from close friends, or seen a few examples of their work.
2. Do It Your Self Only If You or Your Help Can Do It Better and More Efficiently. My father is very good with his hands and has helped me take on multiple home renovations (I’d argue that the quality of his work is better than most contractors). However, a typical project does end up taking longer than if I hired a so-called Pro to complete the job. Also, you’ll need all the necessary tools (here’s part II of my tools list) to do it your self (keep this mind)
3. If You Plan On Staying in Your Home Long Term, Then Buy Good Quality Material. An example of this would be kitchen cabinets; cheap cabinets often come with flimsy bracing, poor drawer construction, and a non durable exterior finish. Spend more on material and it will, in general, last longer.
4. Be logical About What You Renovate. Start with the kitchen, bath, exterior landscaping (front yard), windows, heating/cooling, roof, etc. and avoid bedrooms, basement, attic, garage, etc. in the short term.
5. Avoid Trends in Design and Go For A Classic Look (or match the rest of your home). Even if you’re attracted to Modern design, for example, go for a neutral or classic look when selecting material and style for your next renovation. If you need to unexpectantly sell your home you’ll be glad you didn’t paint your walls brown and invest in sheep skin blinds.
6. Think Green Where It Makes Sense. Do you live in a cold climate, for example? If so, it may make sense to spend a little extra for high quality, super insulated, wood windows when looking to replace your 90 year old, single pane, double hung windows. Thinking about solar panels for your rooftop? You may want to think again, considering cost and long terms ROI.
7. Establish a Budget. I know some folks who go into renovations with an open ended budget; this is bad news considering that even well planned renovations usually go over on budget. Track every expense and try to leave a little extra cash for unexpected re-wiring or runs to the hardware store.
8. If You Use a General Contractor Be Prepared to Pay More (lots more). Did you know that most General Contractors don’t actually do any work, but rather line up the workers you will need for your kitchen renovation, for example. You can be your own general contractor if you take the time to find and research workers and then manage their work.