The top 10 things to do before starting a home renovation project

Anyone who has been through a renovation knows how many moving parts there are, and that timelines and scheduling play a big part in a project’s success.

There are actually a few things we should all be doing well in advance of starting any big home renovation project. Village Media spoke to Richard from Heritage Home Hardware in Sault Ste. Marie to find out how to lay the groundwork for a successful home reno.

You need to know where to start, he says. Identify your objectives and make a plan—whether the space you’re renovating is a single room, a full floor or your entire home. It can help to start with an overview that breaks down the basics of the home renovation process, which includes some tips and tricks to get it all done on time and on budget.

1. Identify your motivation

Knowing your why is important: why are you undertaking this home renovation? Does the space feel old and is in need of a fresh new look, so your reasons are primarily aesthetic? Are you wanting the room to better suit your personality?

For many, their reasons are functional, such as a cramped kitchen with an awkward layout or a bedroom that doesn’t have enough storage. Identifying if your motivation is aesthetic vs. functional can help you determine how extensive a renovation you need and how much you want to spend.

2. Separate your must-haves from your nice-to-haves

Start with the non-negotiables; these are the things that must fit into your budget and get done or you won’t be happy with the final result. It might help to review similar spaces online to see what’s possible, then make a list (floor-to-ceiling) of all the items you could possibly want.

Consider this your master list. Now start moving items around, between the “must-have” and the “nice-to-have” columns. Sticking to your budget and timeline will influence your choices, but keep in mind that some of those “nice-to-have” elements can always be added at a later date.

3. Choose an approach: DIY, contractor or hybrid

If you are handy, you can save a bit of money going the DIY route; just be aware that it can end up costing you more in the long run if you don’t have all of the skills required. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Some work requires a licensed professional.

Think about your timelines too: DIY projects are more likely to encounter snags and hiccups. Another aspect many DIYers forget to take into account is the cost of purchasing or renting tools you don’t already own.

In many cases, the hybrid model may be best, where you share duties with the contractor. You can do some of the pre-construction tear down tasks such as removing cabinetry or lifting up old flooring. The Home Installs team at Heritage Home Hardware can help you sort these tasks.

4. Hire a Licensed General Contractor

When you hire a general contractor, this person will organize and oversee your entire home renovation project. This might mean that they complete the construction work themselves and/or that they hire a team of subcontractors to do the work. A general contractor will confirm what happens when (the “order of operations”) and handle all of the scheduling for various subcontractor tasks. They are also responsible for obtaining construction permits, proposing solutions for challenging renovations, and recommending finishes and materials.

Make sure to do some thorough research and read online reviews carefully before you hire a general contractor. The person you hire needs to have proper insurance. You’ll also want to get commitments regarding their availability and timelines, and to confirm their preferred communication methods and frequency, so you’ll know what to expect.

5. Choose the members of your renovation team

There are a number of different subcontractors you’re likely to need and a good general contractor can help you find them. If your plan includes knocking down walls or moving plumbing or gas lines, you’ll need an architect. If you are doing any electrical work, you’ll need a licensed electrician. The following is a list of the most common types of contractors you may require for your home renovation project:

  • roofing
  • Drywall
  • Fencing
  • Concrete
  • Masonry
  • Electrical
  • Siding
  • painting
  • insulation
  • HVAC
  • Remodeling

6. Think about hiring a Design-Build Contractor

If your project is medium- to large-size in scale, you may want to consider engaging the services of a design-build contractor; they are ideal for projects that require a high level of attention to detail. This kind of contractor offers complete design, construction and project management services, and serves as the single point of contact from start to finish.

If you were hoping for more predictable timelines between the design and construction phases of your renovation, a design-build contractor can ensure a more seamless process.

7. Choose and store your fixtures in advance

With any renovation, you need to be ready to hit the ground running. This means not having to wait weeks for an order to come in or having to suddenly deal with delays in items that aren’t immediately available. Choosing new fixtures is always the fun part of a home reno project, but there are several important things you need to consider.

Are they compatible with your existing fixtures, plumbing and electrical systems? To have your fixtures ready in advance of installation, you will also need to figure out storage. Is there a room you’ll be able to store things like cabinets, a sink or a toilet? If you don’t have the extra space, you can ask your general contractor to set up “when-needed” deliveries. Of course, if you’re going the DIY route, you’ll need to make these arrangements yourself.

8. Consider hiring an interior designer

It’s always worthwhile to have an independent, third party, fresh set of eyes come and evaluate your space, even if it’s only to give suggestions or offer solutions you might never have considered.

When you hire an interior designer, they can help you design or choose cabinetry, recommend furniture styles, colors and finishes, and analyze traffic patterns in your home for smart space planning. They can provide lots of helpful, professional tips for renovating your home’s interior.

9. Decide if you will stay or go

Home renovations can be quite disruptive, so think about the impact an ongoing renovation will have on your daily life in your home. Will specific rooms, like the kitchen or bathroom, for example, be unusable for a certain period of time? Will there be a big deal of noise, dust or debris?

It might make sense to move out of your home for a while, even if it’s just for a few days during a particularly intense phase. Many choose to stay with family or friends temporarily, and if this isn’t an option, you’ll need to factor the cost of accommodations into your budget.

10. Finalize your budget

Once you’ve gone through the steps above, create a detailed budget that includes all of the costs of your home renovation project. You should also build in some flexibility, as delays or cost overruns will certainly occur at some point. Some find it helpful to lay out their budget according to the timeline of the project. It’s a great way to keep track of the money you’ve spent and the money you have left; for example, if there happens to be cost or time overruns in the early stages, you can identify items in the later stages that might need to be removed.

Starting any home reno project can be daunting, especially if you haven’t tackled one before or many years have passed since you last renovated. An early consultation with the Home Installs team at your local Home Hardware can help set you on the right path.

Above all, take as much time as you need for proper planning and research. The benefits of such attention to detail will show up in your finished project.

For more information on preparing for your home renovation, visit Heritage Home Hardware or call 705-759-5101.