I will never forget the wide eyes Brett and I had the first time we walked through our house.
Every room we stepped into was met with endless possibilities of changing layouts, moving walls, adding closets, changing doorways…anything and everything was thrown out there, hoping to spur even more inspiration.
After making an offer and having it accepted, Brett and I started to talk about our renovation plans in a more serious and down-to-earth manner. Yes, we had big dreams and plans for the house but we also had to be realistic about what we could accomplish.
One of the most common questions we asked during the beginning of this process and now one we get from you is how we plan our home renovation projects.
We do not by any means have a foolproof answer and everyone and every circumstance is going to be different. What we can do is walk you through the first two years and explain in as much detail as possible how we’ve gotten this far.
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So you bought the house. Now what?!
Make a list of everything you want to do. It doesn’t matter how outlandish it seems or out of reach it is. Write it allllllllllllll out.
Not only does this give you that 30,000 foot view but it also helps set expectations with your significant other. Maybe they only want to redo the bathroom, entryway and kitchen but you think the entire first floor needs an overhaul. Imagine how awkward that would be when you start taking a sledge hammer to the office, only to realize that room wasn’t even on their radar.
Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea 🙂
Once it’s on paper, talk it through. What are your most-wanted projects? See what matches up with what your significant other wants. If the heavens do in fact open up and you happen to have a few things on the list that are the same, take note. Those are the projects that might be worth doing right away because they’d be a win for you both.
After the lists are made, see if there is anything that can be done prior to fully moving in.
Planning projects so you’re not completely house poor
The other major consideration when planning your renovation projects is budget. Shocking, we know.
Even if you’re a total beginner, try and write out a budget for each project. Yes, things happen but having an idea of a number to stick with is a good idea.
If budget is a deal breaker, start with the projects you can afford right now and think about starting a savings plan to save up for the bigger projects down the road.
The good news is that both Brett and I were pleasantly surprised at how much we could get done for relatively little to no money.
Hint: It costs absolutely nothing to tear down a wall. 🙂
This is the perfect segue into our next tip…
Live in your home for a bit before you completely demolish the place
When we first moved in, tearing down walls was our favorite relationship building activity and thankfully, there was no shortage of things to demo.
I look back now and thank God we didn’t follow through on everything that we had planned. We were on a roll of removing walls, changing doors and redoing layouts, without actually having lived in the house to get a good feel for it.
It was a piece of advice we heard numerous times and definitely worth repeating. Before you do anything major, wait a few months. Even longer if it’s going to be a large investment.
The way our laundry room, guest bathroom and guest bedroom look right now is completely different than what we had planned two years ago. After living in the house for six months, we realized that our original plan wasn’t the best fit for how we were functioning in our home.
Unless you are absolute, one hundred percent sure that is what you want, I would hold off. And if you’re really in the mood to get started, take on a small project or only do the demo part. Things look a lot different when all the walls are down and you’re able to get the entire picture.
What happens when things change?
I promise you, things will not always go as planned. Isn’t the saying something like, ‘the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees?’
Being flexible and having an ability to go with the flow is vital if you want to maintain sanity. It’s easy to say, but when you’re drowning in drywall dust, running on little sleep and haven’t had a real meal in over a week because your kitchen is under construction, it can be hard to maintain perspective.
We’ve only been here for two years but we’ve had our fair share of ‘fun’ experiences like… when our roof unexpectedly started leaking; when the permit to build a garage was denied; when we realized the entryway door would be better on the other side of the house, leading to a complete overhaul of the floor plan; and when we had to apply for a variance which included pleading our case to the county and at a town hall meeting.
All of this to say, it never hurts to have a backup plan. When the plans to build a garage that first summer took a turn for the worst, we decided it was time to redo the HVAC and start on the entryway. When the garage was still up in the air, the guest bathroom and laundry room were next on the list.
Any final words of advice?
If you’re lucky enough to be tackling a renovation with someone else, communication is your best friend and be clear about expectations.
When you stop talking, projects are open to interpretation and it usually ends with neither one of you being happy.
As always, we’d love to hear your suggestions, tips and tricks for how you plan out your renovations and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
All our best,
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