House renovation sounds like the most adult investment venture you’ll ever make, right? It’s not simply picking up a hammer and beating that nail into drywall. It’s never as simple as all those DIY videos make it out to be, and there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself before taking that deep dive and finally going for it.
Renovation is a complicated process where you don’t just have to be mindful of the impending construction, but you also need to set aside a budget, consult a professional, and keep your ideas in check at the same time. So before you make any big decisions, here are 10 questions you need to ask yourself before diving head-first in a house renovation.
1. What goes, what stays?
The very first step you need to take before investing in a full-scale renovation is to make a personal appraisal of your home. It’s important to carefully look at each and every aspect of your home, then decide what features you actually want to change. Maybe that rustic stone fireplace in the center of the living room may look like it doesn’t belong now, but a little bit of tweaking around with the rest of the ambiance can make it into a beautiful focal point later. So, these small observations can definitely help you see the potential in your home, and you can choose what goes and what stays later.
2. What’s your budget?
The most crucial aspect of any house renovation is obviously the budget—without the proper funds, you can’t very well spruce up your home. The first rule of determining the budget is sticking to the essentials. If you cave and begin to splurge, you’ll end up busting your bank account. So, it’s best that you sit down and create a strict budget with the help of your contractor. You should also think about creating a contingency fund for any unforeseen costs that may pop up along the road.
3. Looking for structural changes?
Structural changes include tearing down a load bearing wall or even adding an attic, terrace, or another story to your existing property. This requires extensive thought and professional appraisals. If you want to increase the square footage of your home, then hiring a structural engineer would also be a good option. They’ll work in tandem with the designer to get things on track.
4. Any permits that need to be granted?
There are always some local Housing Authority rules that you need to follow for your home renovation. These regulations can impact the end result, the budget, and even the overall timeline of your renovation. You especially need to consider the zoning laws of your town before you invest in any heavy-duty reconstruction, addition, or alteration. You’ll need to check with the local housing authorities if you want to increase the square foot area of your home.
5. What design’s on your mind?
Interior design styles are what makes up the backbone of any house renovation. You need to do proper research on what you want your home to look like post-renovation. You can create physical mood boards or online scrapbooks of some of the best ideas you’ve come across. Then later, you can show them to your designer so that they can brush up your rough ideas and bring your vision to reality. Here’s a list of clever house design trends you can browse in the meanwhile.
6. Colors to materials?
Color schemes and material selection is an inherent part of all renovation projects, which is why you need to start thinking about them beforehand. A well-thought-out decision is always more appreciated than anything you decide off the top of your head. You need to carefully appraise the dimensions and lighting of your room before you opt for any color or material.
7. Where to find the right designer?
Finding the right designer for your job can be a bit of a hunt. The best way to look for one would be through referrals. However, if you don’t have any, then browsing the internet is a good choice. If you have a governing body of designers, architects, or contractors in your area, then their website would be a good, authentic way to search. If all else fails, you can definitely rely on Google Reviews to warn you off from any bad undertaking. If you’ve created a list of a few designers you think might be good, then asking for testimonials can also be a good bet to stay safe.
PRO TIP: Your Beverly-Hanks agent is also a great source for local, trustworthy professionals.
8. Architect or interior designer?
Whether you need to hire an architect or interior designer is also a crucial question that you need to consider before going for a house renovation. It can be quite simple to determine, actually—if you want to alter the structure or go for a façade/elevation renovation, then going for an architect is best. Take a look at this nifty house design trick that can save you thousands! However, if you only need to alter the interior designs, then you need to hire an interior designer.
9. General or specialized contractors?
General contractors usually take care of all the generic construction works that are carried out during the renovation. Having a general contractor can also help you maintain a single point of contact with all your construction team. On the other hand, going for several specialized contractors can make it hard for you to monitor the progress, but it may be beneficial in terms of cost. Once again, you need to carefully think about the kind of work you need done for your house to determine what kind of a contractor you need.
10. What should be in black and white print?
Once you’ve decided what changes you’ll be making in your home renovation, and which designer/architect/contractor you’ll be opting for, it’s time to educate yourself on the paperwork. These will include the contract, the design layouts, and the permit paperwork. You’ll also want to ask for the warranties and care instructions from your contractors. It’s also better to outline all your post-project needs before you sign any contract, so be sure to research that.
These are a few questions that can help you pave a straight, educated path down the house renovation road. Asking these questions will definitely clear up any ambiguity and help keep your project on track.
About the author
Luke Oleenik serves as the Managing Director of XL Building, a trusted building company specializing in second-story additions and custom home construction across Melbourne. Prevent your dream home from turning into a nightmare with his free ultimate building guide.