Turn on the TV these days or scroll through your social media and you’ll be inundated with shows about home makeovers and flipping houses, or awe-inspiring pictures of before and afters of the most dilapidated homes becoming Insta-worthy scenes.
Just one look at the potential of these projects is enough to make you look around your own home and think of the possibilities.
Although there’s a lot that can be done with a bit of know-how and a small budget, home renovations are a huge undertaking that most people aren’t prepared for.
That doesn’t mean they should be done though, as, with the right planning and a lot of time and effort spent before you knock down that first wall, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving your vision.
What’s there to know about home renovations and how do you start a renovation at your house?
The best place to begin is by looking around each room and space to see what might need sprucing up. With a realistic vision in mind about what you want to achieve and a budget set before you get started, you’ll be able to implement either minor or major changes that can have a huge impact.
There’s a lot to learn about home renovations, and it takes a lot more work than the edited versions you see on TV, but that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. We’ll walk you through the first steps of home renovations, how to fund them, and the pros and cons to consider before you start a project of your own.
- 1 The Reality of Home Renovations
- 2 Why Are You Renovating?
- 3 Project Managing Your Repairs and Renewals
- 4 Contractors vs DIY: How To Tackle the Job
- 5 Costs Involved With Renovations
- 6 How to Finance Your Project
- 7 Potential Grants for Home Renovations in the US
- 8 Pros and Cons of DIY Renovations
- 9 The Best Time to Start the Job
- 10 Easy Ideas for Home Renovations That Add Value
- 11 Related Questions
The Reality of Home Renovations
According to the statistics, Americans spend around $300 billion per year on home renovations and repairs, so it’s no surprise that everyone around you seems to be improving their homes.
With the rise of home renovation shows and social media influencers that make it seem so easy, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and do what they can to add value to their home.
There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to home renovations though, and the reality is that they cost a lot more than what most people budget for. Where you live will determine the price you pay as well, as contractors and supplies can differ greatly depending on the area.
The time it takes to complete a project is usually more than most people realize as well, and there are many hiccups along the way that can add more stress and energy to what you thought would be a simple job.
With some parts of the project and depending on your abilities, you’ll need to call in professional help, and at the very least for the electrical and plumbing work.
Why Are You Renovating?
The very first thing to establish with home renovations is your goal for the project, as this can change the whole trajectory of your plans.
If you plan on living in your home for at least the next five years, you should only invest what you can afford and do the upgrades that you’re personally interested in.
If you plan on selling soon, you’ll want to choose projects that are going to get the best return on investment.
Speaking with a realtor can give you an idea of what’s favored in the market and which jobs can probably be put to the side, as well as a rough estimate of what your house will be worth once the job is complete.
Project Managing Your Repairs and Renewals
The very first thing to establish with home renovations is your goal for the project. If you plan on living in your home for the next five years, you should only invest what you can afford and do the upgrades that you’re personally interested in.
If you plan on selling soon, you’ll want to choose projects that are going to get the best return on investment.
Looking at home renovations in a business sense is the best approach, and going at it with a project management approach is smart. Here are some ways you can tackle these repairs like you would a business plan, for the best results:
Spend a few weeks coming up with lists of what you want, what’s needed, what your goals are, and what you have to do to get them. Collect photos of designs, paint colors, furniture, bathroom fixtures, and anything else you need to get a vision in mind of what your renovations will achieve.
Set a budget
Know what you’re going in with before you begin and make sure your planned works come well under it. It’s a known fact that home renovations can blow out easily and you’ll need some wriggle room either side of your end budget, so account for it.
Don’t just look at the big picture of what each room will look like, but rather break everything up into subcategories. You can list each room as a header but also look at the light specifications, paint colors, floors, window treatments, fans, and any other minor details at the same time.
Include all contractors
If you’re dealing with more than one contractor, which is typical on a home renovation, make sure everyone is on the same page. The plumber, electrician, carpenter, and cabinetmaker, should all be working alongside each other and know what the end goal is for the house.
Plan every minor detail
It can be easy to get lost in the big picture during renovations, focusing on the pretty picture rather than the nitty-gritty. When looking at a room, make sure you have every minor detail planned out rather than coming up with it on the fly.
Draw up plans, write detailed lists, and know exactly what is going where and how you want it to look.
When contractors are coming in and out of your house, they’re going to need a direct line to you.
Many questions arise during a standard day including what positions you want things, how you want them to handle a situation, and what an alternative option is when your first choice isn’t a possibility. Be ready for their questions and make sure you prioritize communication.
Expect the worst
There’s no better time to apply the saying “expect the worst but hope for the best” than when it comes to home renovations. Be prepared for water leaks behind old bathtubs or rotting floors underneath the tile you pull up and make sure you factor in any potential issues in your planning and budget.
Contractors vs DIY: How To Tackle the Job
In this day and age of online tutorials, it’s never looked easier to improve your home on your own. However, that doesn’t mean all parts of a home renovation project should be attempted by yourself, and especially not with the more serious aspects.
Check out these steps to see which should be left to the experts and which you can comfortably handle as a DIY.
- Sourcing materials: You can find a great deal when you source materials for things like benchtops, molding, and tapware. Let the contractors know you’ll be getting the materials and all they need to do is supply you with the correct measurements.
- Cosmetics: There are loads of cosmetic enhancements you can do yourself including laying new tile work, painting walls, and replacing doors.
- Minor demolition: Light demolition projects like pulling up carpets and floorboards, removing bathtubs, and taking out cabinets can be done yourself provided you’re protected.
- Electrical and gas: The most dangerous part of home renovations include electrical and gas works, so leave anything that involves either of them, including installing new light fixtures and appliances, up to the professionals.
- Plumbing: Never attempt plumbing work on your own which includes installing a new shower, bath or vanity, or fixing plumbing issues.
- Building: If you have any need to build walls, frames, and add-ons to the house, you should use a professional and have adequate licensing.
- Asbestos: If you suspect your home has asbestos, need it removed, or want to get it tested, only ever use a professional service.
Costs Involved With Renovations
Renovating your home can add a lot of value when you get it right, but first, you need to establish the costs involved to see if it’s worth it.
The range of what a home renovation can cost varies between $18,000 and $75,000 according to the Home Advisor network, and it depends on a few factors:
Size of the room
The size of the room you’re remodeling needs to be calculated exactly to establish things like paint, flooring, lights, cabinetry, windows, window treatments, electricity, gas, water, and heating and cooling.
If you plan on doing more than one room, you’ll need to factor in the size of all of them together.
The type of materials you plan on doing can have a huge impact on the cost so it depends on the level of renovations you want.
For a basic renovation with vinyl floors and laminate benchtops, it will be on the lower end of the scale. Premium renovations with things like marble and wooden flooring will cost a lot more.
Without even attempting to redo anything, you need to factor in costs for underlying issues with the house. Existing problems like plumbing, mold, pests, weather damage, and faulty electrical work will all be added to your final costs, and that’s before you get to the renovation itself.
The extent of the remodel
Some renovation projects are minor, like applying a coat of paint, and others are extreme, like tearing down a wall to create one larger room. Establish how much needs to be done to see what end of the spectrum your costs will be on.
How to Finance Your Project
With big costs involved, you’ll need to know how you plan on financing home renovations before you begin.
Having a specific amount in mind is recommended as this allows you to set a reasonable budget that will give you room to move either side, should unknown issues arise. There are a few popular options for financing home renovations that might be available to you:
- Home renovation loan: Usually attached to a mortgage, the lender may offer you 110% of the purchase price to cover costs for renovations.
- Home equity loan: Using the equity in your existing home loan, you might be able to borrow more money if your home is valued at a higher rate than when you purchased it.
- 203K loan: This is offered by the Federal Housing Administration and lets you borrow cash at a low rate to use for housing improvements if eligible.
- Personal loan: A personal loan for up to $50,000 might be ideal for home renovations, though they usually come with a higher interest rate.
- Savings: Using personal savings is a great way to invest money and tackle small parts of the renovations at a time, using DIY skills where you can.
Potential Grants for Home Renovations in the US
If lending or saving options aren’t available to you, there are some grants offered in the United States that deal specifically with home renovations.
A home repair or home improvement grant is a special type of aid offered by the government that helps you undertake certain renovations, and they’re available at federal, state, and regional levels.
To qualify for a home renovation grant, you’ll need to meet a set of requirements like what you’re spending the money on and where you live, but the best part about these deals is that you won’t have to repay them.
However, they don’t come up frequently and the amount you’ll qualify for is minimal, but still, it can be helpful.
There are a few places that offer grants for US citizens, including Housing and Urban Development, US Department of Agriculture, and the National Residential Improvement Association.
These organizations offer specific grants for improvements and benefits like tax credits, local incentives, and discount programs that can help with potential renovations.
If you plan on making energy-efficient or green improvements to your home, there are specialized grants and tax credits you might qualify for. Energy Star offers savings and grants for homes that are getting energy-saving upgrades, and there are also personal loans that offer good interest rates for the same purpose.
Pros and Cons of DIY Renovations
Before diving headfirst into your home renovations and deciding to do it for yourself, it can be helpful to weigh up the pros and cons. If you’re adamant about DIY renovations and don’t want to spend a penny on a contractor, consider both the good and bad sides of it.
The biggest benefit of doing your own renovations is how much money you can save. If you’re able to learn how to do a basic job like tiling or painting, you can reduce your overall costs by thousands of dollars.
Learning how to do basic home renovations is a helpful skill to have. By starting with one room and getting a grasp on the skills needed, you’ll be able to complete projects all around the house with greater confidence.
Without knowing what you’re doing as well as a professional, it can be risky attempting to do your own renovations. You should never attempt to do a job that can’t be undone if it’s done wrong, which may limit you somewhat.
Doing renovations yourself will take a lot longer than if you hired a contractor. You’ll need to create a schedule that fits in with work, family, and other personal commitments, and learn as you go, which can take months to do just one space.
Your existing homeowner’s insurance will not cover any costs caused by structural or other damages that occurred due to your work, so it’s a major risk when attempting large jobs by yourself.
Completing home renovations yourself that aren’t to the same standard as a professional will end up impacting your property value negatively. Unless you’re certain you can do the job to the same expert level, it’s best to leave it to someone who can.
The Best Time to Start the Job
No set time or month’s better than others to do most home renovations, but certain weather conditions and seasons might make it easier.
If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you’ll be more comfortable working in fall or spring when temperatures aren’t too hot or choose periods when the weather is dry.
Remodeling and building during Spring will usually cost you the most if you’re hiring a contractor. Due to the better weather and more comfortable working conditions, there will be lots of projects occurring in your town, and therefore it’ll be harder to hire help at a reduced rate.
To establish the best time for your home renovations, it depends completely on your schedule.
Although it can take longer for the paint to dry in cool weather or make it harder to work with heavier materials in the summer, whatever works for you and your timing is the best time to get started.
Easy Ideas for Home Renovations That Add Value
If you’re looking for the best way to add value to your home without spending too much or exerting a lot of energy, we’ve got some great ideas. These are easy suggestions for improvements around the home that will help boost the price of your home with minimal skills required.
- Painting the walls: Purchasing paint and supplies are cheap and it’s a job that can be done with just a ladder and some drop sheets.
- Quick kitchen update: A kitchen reface can be done by painting old cabinet doors, painting the benchtop, and adding new and improved knobs.
- Insulation: Update your home’s heating and cooling abilities with energy-efficient insulation that can be installed on your own.
- Bathroom upgrade: Changing the fixtures in the bathroom, adding new lighting, installing towel racks, and painting a dated bathtub are simple projects that can make it look brand new.
- Adding a deck: You can build a small deck to improve your outdoor entertaining area with a spare weekend and some quality wood.
- Painting the exterior: A fresh coat of paint can add a huge boost to your home and it’s a simple job for a one-story house.
- Landscaping: Create your own concrete curb landscape edging and plant some new trees and bushes to add instant appeal to your home.
Home renovation can be a fun and rewarding project to undertake, provided you do the required planning and prepare for anything. If you’re after more information about home improvements for beginners, check out our answers to some FAQs about potential projects.
How Do Contractors Fix Mistakes?
If you’ve hired a contractor to do a particular part of your home renovations and there’s an issue, there are correct steps to take. First, take photographs and document all of the issues, and then notify the contractor in writing.
If there are ongoing issues and they refuse to fix their work, you can contact the state licensing board to file a complaint.
How Do You Waterproof the Bathroom?
Waterproofing is the step completed before the tiling and must be done in the bathroom to protect the substructure from getting wet and doing major damage to the home.
You should not attempt to waterproof the bathroom for yourself as it’s better to have a professional tiler to do the job correctly.
What Renovations Add the Most Value to a Home?
To improve the value of your home, some renovations can add more than others.
New bathrooms, new kitchens, converting the garage to a living space, improving the look of your gardens, and turning the space into an open plan layout are all renovations that can add potential value to the property.