Home renovations for beginners

When Andrew and I purchased our first single family home, we did not realize how much work needed to be done until we moved in.  Although our  house was not a “fixer- upper” it definitely needed a major face lift.

As an avid HGTV viewer, I thought fixing up a home was as simple as hiring a contractor and all your dreams would come true… well that was not the case.  We spent the most time trying to figure out who to hire, the order of what professionals needed to come first, and who to choose. There are so many choices out there from architects, interior designers, kitchen designers, engineers, contractors, and full service firms, that it can be super overwhelming. After  talking to about 10-15 people from the list above and  going through the process of finally selecting a contractor, these are some of my lessons learned and helpful tips for your next renovation.
Know the size of your project and your needs – before you even start to think about hiring professionals, sit down and write down exactly what you remodel entails.  This does not mean “kitchen remodel” and “bathrooms re-done”.  I am talking about details… what do you want in your kitchen? Hardwood floors, recessed lighting, appliances, back splash, hardware, and cabinets – what types (inserts, shaker, ect). Are you removing walls? Adding some windows or doors?  Being realistic about what you want will also help you with the budgeting process.

Be realistic about your budgetlisting out all your requirements will help you get a better gauge of what it truly costs.  One thing we did was pick a number we felt comfortable spending or asking people “how much does a typical remodel costs.”  That got us no where fast… It’s great to have a rough idea of how much you “want” to spend, but by listing everything out and getting rough costs for each item it helps put everything into perspective.

Talk to professionals – after you know exactly what you want, you can then  determine who you need to hire.

Interior Designers – most designers draw plans and help coordinate the overall look.  These people are helpful if you don’t know what you want, need help envisioning a look, and picking out materials.  Designers are pricey and in the days of pinterest and houzz aren’t as critical if you have a good idea of what you want. They run roughly $125-$175 an hour, taking a purchasing fee, and charge for calls, emails, driving ect.  It can easily run up to 5-10% of your total budget

Architects/engineers – people you definitely want to hire if you are moving walls, changing house structures, additions, ect.  They also costs anywhere from 8-10% of your budget, but are required for anything major.

Contractors – there are so many varieties from smaller contractors who sub contract most of their work, larger all-inclusive firms (including architects and engineers).

Make sure you feel comfortable with your contractor, not everyone gets along with each-other and its critical you like and trust your contractor.  You also want to make sure your contractor listens to your ideas, but you should also be open to changes.

Know what you want– when meeting with the contractor it was super helpful that I listed out what I wanted and had pictures of what I was thinking.  I had pictures of the types of hardware I wanted from over head lamps to cabinet fixtures.  The more you know and the more homework you do, the smoother the process is and quicker you can get your construction underway.

As we start our remodel process, I am excited to document the process and see how everything turns out!  Stay tuned for future remodel posts!





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