Monday, October 11, 2010

▷▷▷▷▷▷▷How to tackle big renovations

Houses that require a complete renovation from one room to the next is an overwhelming task. It can be hard to know not only where to start in the renovation process but also how to start.  Here are a few guidelines on how to tackle your big renovations.

Decide on a list of priorities. Don't just jump in without any thought to what should be done. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Why are you renovating? Sounds like a silly question with an obvious answer but people do renovate for different reasons. Some renovations are motivated by need, some by want. Renovations done by need are those which will significantly improve the lives of those inhabiting the space. This may be the case when someone buys a home that has not been taken care of, not well maintained, lacking the basic necessities required to live safely and in good health. Fixer uppers, homes damaged by neglect, weather, fire..these homes must be renovated to be inhabited and so they will likely need the greatest amount of work and monetary resources. Renovations motivated by want are likely due to homeowners wishing to improve the form, function and aesthetic appeal. These include updating existing appliances, minor layout changes, adding a window, or switching out counter tops. These can be just as costly but you have some control over how much you spend because the home still functions and is livable.
2. How much can I afford? Budget Budget Budget. You always have to have an idea of how much money you have to spend. Getting estimates is key to helping your determine what you can afford. Whether you use the contractor or not it can still be helpful to know what sort of money may be involved. Whatever you think you can afford, add at least 30% to that as a contingency fund, because I have yet to see a renovation that doesn't cost more than what you think.
3. Can I live with the inconveniences of a renovation especially if  I need to live elsewhere and if the renovation is going to take several months. All of these things need to be determined rather early on. If you have to live elsewhere, you will need to know if that involves paying rent, or money of any kind. That also has to be figured into the budget so don't forget to ask that question. All renovations take longer than expected. The older the home the longer the renovation is, so go into this with both your eyes wide open. Renovations typically cost more and take longer, especially in older homes. The unforeseens will eat up your contingency fund quickly.
4. What is the biggest problem? By narrowing down the biggest issues first, you automatically give yourself a list of priorities. Once this list has been established you will need to think in terms of layers. What is causing the issue? Perhaps you have a wall that blocks your kitchen from the family room. You have to look at why is that wall there to begin with? Is it structural? Is it load bearing? If you're not sure you have to make this determination first.  Depending on your knowledge of renovations, you may or may not need to bring in an expert to make that determination. That has to be factored into the budget. Train yourself to look at each area of the renovation using "Superman" eyes. See past the dry wall, the floor, most of the time the renovations start in the structure of the home and work its way forward.  You may start out thinking you don't like your shower because it leaks so you want to renovate your bathroom.  Pulling out the old and putting in the new isn't as simple as it sounds. The leak may prompt you to renovate, but the leak has to be addressed long before you can even think about what color to choose for your walls. The leak may reveal rotten wood, maybe even mold. Renovation is about layers. You can not work from the outside in if you're addressing an issue that is from the inside..Renovations prompted by problems like flickering lights, leaky faucets, flooding toilets, cold spots, hot spots, all suggest hidden issues, hidden costs and time delays.  By addressing the biggest problem first you may not be able to afford an entire renovation, but you may have taken care of a problem that was or could have been catastrophic at some point. Will you get your luxury bath? Maybe not, but you may stop something as vile as black mold or rot from completely ruining your home or affecting your health.
5. Can your relationship withstand renovation? You laugh but renovations can test even the strongest relationships. The stress, the worry, the finances, the frustrations can all cause a lot of friction in the family. Again, go in with your eyes wide open.
6. Can I be practical and realistic? If you are an impatient person, or given to splurges with money, or think Rome was built by Property Brothers, renovations may not be for you. You'd likely be better off  moving into a move in ready home than trying to pull off a successful renovation. Renovations have to be rooted in practicality. You can't always get what you want, when you want it. You have to be patient, organized and be able to be flexible. Compromise is your best friend. Being frugal is helpful, but some things you can not be cheap on. Save where it makes sense, being penny wise and pound foolish makes one a very unhappy homeowner.

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