When Maggie Germano, 30, decided to renovate her home in Riverdale, Maryland, she wasn’t prepared for the process to be so difficult.
“It was the first time we’d ever been through a renovation, so we didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “When you’re going through renovations, your entire home is disrupted. It affects your way of life to have strangers in your home, and renovations can also be incredibly messy.”
Germano was also surprised when renovations to her kitchen, flooring and living room took much longer than expected and when the costs went up significantly after the estimate.
Germano’s story doesn’t surprise Jason Biddle, the creator of The Helping Home, a website that helps adults renovate their homes to provide better accessibility as they age.
“Renovations are a commitment to the unknown,” he says. “Even those lucky enough to avoid any major curveballs must still deal with plenty of minor issues that pop up during the course of the renovation.”
Biddle believes it’s important to understand how to prepare for a remodel before diving into any work on your home. Here are five things to expect with your remodel, including home remodeling tips to avoid overspending:
1. Going over budget is common
You’ve finally saved up just enough money to pay for what you thought those granite countertops and stainless steel appliances would cost. A design change here, an installation issue there and you may be faced with a tough reality when those savings don’t quite cut it. It’s also easy to fall into a trap of overspending if your initial estimate is too low or no longer covers the scope of the project.
“Renovations are a commitment to the unknown. Even those lucky enough to avoid any major curveballs must still deal with plenty of minor issues that pop up during the course of the renovation.”
John Bodrozic, co-founder of the home maintenance and remodeling tracking app HomeZada, believes that while going over budget is common, there are some basic home remodeling tips to avoid overspending.
“Taking the time upfront to plan out your specific design with all of your product choices is a great start,” he says. “People who know what they want and have done the various pricing research make it easier for contractors.”
Germano recommends signing a contract before the remodel kicks off and making it clear that the price quoted contains everything you agreed upon.
“If the contractor has to add any work, make sure they run it by you first,” she says. “In my experience, our contractors added work, making it seem like it wouldn’t be very much money. Unfortunately, we ended up spending more than we were planning to.”
While everyone dreams of a smooth home remodeling project, consider budgeting for more than your estimate in the event you do run over. You could stash your extra home remodeling funds in an online savings account so they are earning interest while your project is underway.
2. Scheduling can be a hassle
If you think it’s difficult to keep track of your children’s after-school activities and get them there on time, you’ll be astounded by the complex scheduling that can be involved in a remodel.
“Larger projects, like kitchen and bathroom remodels, tend to take more time because there is a specific sequence of different construction trades that must work on bringing everything together, like a complex puzzle,” Bodrozic says. “You first have demo and rough carpentry work, then electrical, plumbing and HVAC rough-in work. Then comes work like drywall, finish carpentry and tile trades and, finally, plumbing and electrical trades come back to install the various fixtures.”
When you’re determining how to prepare for a remodel, you may consider project delays if the work itself takes more time than expected. Another thing to expect with your remodel is that you could also encounter delays if the next trade person up to complete work is busy with other clients and can’t fit you in right away.
3. You may butt heads with your partner
Excited about creating your dream home with the person you love most? Unfortunately, you might not always agree on the shade of cream you want for the bathroom tiles.
“Renovations create power struggles,” Biddle says. “Or maybe one person, acting as the spokesperson for the couple, incorrectly assumes the other partner is on the same page when making a decision.”
But before you worry that fights over paint shades will bring conflict to your relationship, knowing that this is one of the things to expect with your remodel will help you prepare.
“Couples who are remodeling need to determine a process for making decisions,” Biddle says, “and designate who has final say when there is a disagreement.”
“When you’re going through renovations, your entire home is disrupted. It affects your way of life to have strangers in your home, and renovations can also be incredibly messy.”
4. You might get frustrated with your contractor
Phil, your contractor, seems like a great guy. You’ve bumped into him at the grocery store and had pleasant conversations. Many people have given him glowing reviews. What’s more, you’ve never raised your voice at someone working for you. But the stakes are high in your renovation project, and that can lead to heated disagreements. The best defense against this is a good offense.
“Communicate, communicate, communicate,” Germano says. “Make it very clear what you want the result of your project to be. Don’t be afraid to be honest and ask for what you want. This will prevent any disappointment that you might feel if things don’t go the way you’d like.”
Although he also believes in the importance of communication, Biddle holds that going into the project with reasonable expectations is critical when determining how to prepare for a remodel.
“Contractors have other clients and jobs, so they may not always be available immediately,” he says. “Try to be understanding and avoid being too demanding.”
5. It might not increase your home’s value that much
Hoping that your new luxury kitchen will boost your home’s resale value significantly? That might encourage you to spend more than you originally intended. But one of the things to expect with your remodel is that it might not affect your home’s value as much as you anticipated.
“In some cases, homeowners can actually over-renovate and spend money that they won’t be able to get back,” Biddle says. “Every property has a ceiling for its value, and there’s a point of diminishing returns when a remodeling project approaches that top value.”
He suggests homeowners talk to a real estate agent as a home remodeling tip to avoid overspending, since an agent can help you better understand the market before starting a renovation.
How to prepare for a home remodel (and be happy with the outcome)
While your home reno might unfold like an unfunny screwball comedy in which you get the wrong permits, find all sorts of structural problems and have to deal with a contractor you can’t locate, you’ll still be happy once everything is done and you get to live in your remodeled home.
“I’m definitely glad that we got the bulk of the work done and over with,” Germano says. “We learned some very important lessons for the next time we get renovations done.”
With these home remodeling tips to avoid overspending, a better understanding of how to prepare for a remodel and a thorough knowledge of the things to expect with your remodel, you’ll face fewer surprises and get on to enjoying your upgraded digs.