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The Ultimate Guide To Renovating A House

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There is always something that we’re not happy with around our home. Perhaps it’s the vintage curtains that have faded in all the wrong places, the color of the kitchen cabinets, or maybe it’s simply everything within your four walls. No matter what you walk past and cringe at every day, there’s no denying that remodeling has undoubtedly passed through your mind. 

With the worldly circumstances that are affecting us all at the minute, a renovation might be the solution that you’ve been looking for. There is no denying that a remodel is time-consuming and difficult - but what better to do when we’re all being forced to stay indoors? 


Drawing of a man on a ladder painting

Why Remodel?

Remodeling a house is a great way to create a home that's everything that you've ever dreamed about, or to potentially leave you with some attractive profits.

There is always something that we’re not happy with around our home. Perhaps it’s the vintage curtains that have faded in all the wrong places, the color of the kitchen cabinets, or maybe it’s simply everything within your four walls. No matter what you walk past and cringe at every day, there’s no denying that remodeling has undoubtedly passed through your mind. 

With the worldly circumstances that are affecting us all at the minute, a renovation might be the solution that you’ve been looking for. There is no denying that a remodel is time-consuming and difficult - but what better to do when we’re all being forced to stay indoors? Remodeling a house is a great way to create a home that's everything that you’ve ever dreamed of, or to potentially leave you with some attractive profits.

There are so many benefits to renovating a house, such as finding new information about the build to getting to build a home from the ground up. However, renovation is not as simple as picking out paint samples and matching pieces of furniture together. It's a long, difficult process that'll undoubtedly take longer than you first envisioned.

You’ll need to be good at planning and preparation, as well as flexible for when something (or everything!) goes wrong. Today we’re going to be walking you through the step-by-step process of renovating a house.While we have aimed to include everything that you’ll need to know about the process, there are always going to be a hidden cost or job hiding around the corner, waiting to jump out and surprise you. 

But that’s all part of the fun, right? Let’s get right into it to see how your next venture could play out … 

Drawing of men and women working on a house

Advantages of Renovating a House

The advantages of renovating a house are plentiful, so much so that you’ll wonder why you never picked up a contractor’s number before.

So, before we get into the process of remodeling your house, let’s take a quick peek into just some of the benefits of the process. Believe us, when you’re knee-deep in cement and brick you’ll want to remember these advantages!

Increase Home Value

The increased home value that comes with a renovated house is one of the greatest benefits.

Upgrading the property’s size, floor plan, and building materials can both increase the potential resale value and your home pride, so renovating your house will undoubtedly benefit your family while you’re living there and once you’re ready to sell.

If you’re planning to resell your home in the future, you might want to consider strategically planning your renovations to add the most to the value. Some projects are much more worth it than others, for example, a conservatory could add at least 5% to your property value. However, a loft conversion could see an average increase of 21% in the property.

Although a loft conversion typically costs more than adding a conservatory to your house, the former could be more beneficial in the long run. A loft conversion is often also one of the least expensive methods of adding square footage to your property. 

Increased Living Space

Depending on how you’re planning to renovate your house, there's potential to add more living space.

One way this can be done is by adding in more square footage by converting garages, lofts, and basements. However, there is another way in which you can add more living space by breaking down some walls. Not only would it be an excellent form of anger management, but removing walls can leave you with a more open plan and give your home a more airy feel. 

This also allows you to remove some of the useless rooms that you don’t use, such as storage cupboards or turning two small bedrooms into one large one. 

In addition, increasing your living space by adding square footage will increase the appearance of your house and its structure. You can transform your home both on the outside as well as the inside. More living space might be able to give your family members more privacy than your current home layout provides, which is a plus for everyone that lives there. 

Added Comfort

As well as the comfort of more living space, which keeps your family from being cramped together, there are many other comforting benefits to renovating a house.

Renovating areas in your house such as your kitchen, bedroom, flooring, and bathrooms will add comfort to your home that might not have been there previously. And, you'll get the fresh feeling of a new house without actually moving into one. This offers comfort and security to your family members. 

Less Future Maintenance

By upgrading certain features within your home, there will be less maintenance to keep up with in the future.

Waiting longer to repair or replace these features can be costly in the long-run, so a remodel can add some financial relief to homeowners. 

These features can be anything from the internal light fixtures to the furniture. Some will be more expensive than others, but the promise of less to do in the future is worth it. Again, if you’re looking to sell the property in the long run, updating various features will raise the asking price. 

Personalizing Your Home

Have you ever wished that you could design every aspect of your life? A home renovation allows you to personalize your house to your exact vision.

Trends and personal style change as the years go on, and houses become outdated. Don’t neglect your house - it deserves a makeover every now and again. No matter how up to date you are with the current trends, your home will always go out of style eventually. That's why it’s so important to follow current trends.

Using the trends that you love can give you a sense of pride and satisfaction from your house, particularly when you are entertaining guests. 

Discover New Secrets

If you have an old build, chances are that you’re not the first person to renovate it - or at least give it a new coat of paint.

As the years go on, more will be added to a house to cover up the original bones. However, as you renovate it yourself you might be able to uncover intriguing secrets of the house. Perhaps the original flooring can be unveiled by ripping up the newer materials, or you can restore an antique fireplace to its original glory.

Not everything has to be new in your home, and you might find something that makes you fall in love with the build even more. 

Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Living

Have you ever thought about going green while renovating your home? It’s easier than you might think, and it’s about time that we all started thinking of our effects on the environment.

Renovating a house gives you the perfect opportunity to take a look at your water and energy efficiency as well as your waste and toxin reduction. 

There are different methods of making your house more sustainable for the environment, so don’t psych yourself out thinking that you’re going to have to build the entire house from scratch.

You can implement as many or as few efficiency features as you’d like, but it's never a bad idea to add at least one.

Contractor inspecting house drawing

Step-by-Step Guide to Renovating a House

Now the bit that we’ve all been waiting for - how to renovate a house. We have included as many of the usual steps as possible, but remember that everyone’s journey is different.

Some people have a smooth-sailing renovation, while the majority of us have a nightmare where everything goes wrong. Having said that, the final product is always well worth the effort. 

Man on a ladder with a paint brush drawing

Finding and Assessing a Potential House for Renovation

First thing’s first, you’ll need a home to renovate! How you go about finding the property is up to you. You might prefer to renovate an existing property that you’re already living in, otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a new property.

The most common places to find these are auctions, repossession lists, or a quick Google search. You could also get in contact with professional flippers as they'll know the best places to find properties in need of a renovation.

The average home renovation can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $150,000 - and this doesn’t include the original price of the property. 

As the entire renovation process is likely to leave you with a hefty bill, many flippers prefer to find a property with a low asking price. Remember that the lower the asking price, the more work needs to be done. However, if you’re going to be stripping the house to its bones and starting from scratch anyway then this shouldn’t matter too much. 

Boarded up house with magnifying glass drawing

Tips for Purchasing a House for Renovation Purposes

There are certain things to look out for when finding a property to renovate. Whether you’re planning on living in the final product or selling it for profit, you should look for the best property possible for your needs.

To do this, there are a few things you should pay attention to:

Location

You should follow the locations of potential properties incredibly carefully and closely. Look for local housing prices, what’s going on in the area currently, and any new developments on the horizon.

If you already have a location in mind for your renovation, it'll pay to keep a close eye on new changes in the market. Checking local council guidelines is also a must before purchasing a property to remodel. This is so you can get on with the task at hand without breaking any rules.

It’s worth finding the best location for the various needs you or your buyer might need - good schools, easy transport access, low crime rates are high on people’s priority list. 

Major Issues

While the derelict house on top of the mountain might look amazing from the outside, the interior is likely going to be falling apart.

Renovations are designed to be as inexpensive as possible while still looking amazing, but a property with lots of major issues is going to increase your budget by a substantial amount. To avoid the majority of these issues you should consider properties with good bones. By this, we mean those that have strong and sturdy foundations and structures.

Rotting wood is one of the main no-goes for any house flipper for obvious reasons. Also check for faulty wiring, asbestos, and plumbing issues. 

Easy Fixes

On the other hand, take note of easy fixes, but don't let them deter you from the property. Any house that you purchase is going to need some fixes here and there, this is simply part of the process!

Easy fixes cover the cosmetic damage that a property might have encountered, such as dated wallpaper and old countertops. While easy fixes typically put the average buyer off who wants to move in right away, they can quite often become a house flippers dream.

Easy fixes will often knock some of the cost off of the asking price without pushing your budget too much. 

Potential Value Maximization

If you were looking to sell the property after you flipped it, it's a good idea to consider how much profit each property could yield. If one estimate has a higher profit than the other, then it would be wise to purchase the property that offers a higher-end result. 

While you can’t foresee every cost that the property will ask of you, you should be able to get a good idea by looking at the major and minor fixes, location, and more.

Doing ample research into your potential new property, helps maximize the value and increases your profit if you plan to flip the house. 

Man with a magnifying glass drawing

Research Period Features and Preserve Them

Wait! Now that you have your property ready to renovate, you might be raring to rip out all of the rundown insides and replace them with new, fresh appliances.

However, you might just have ripped out a period piece that could have substantially increased your profit margins. Don’t rely on the original asking price of a property to tell you whether there is a period feature in the home or not. It is entirely possible that someone has missed it or overlooked its importance. 

Period features are not always as easy to spot as you might think - they can be as seemingly obsolete as the wooden trim on door frames or a ceiling rose surrounding a light fixture. However, they can also be large and magnificent like a fireplace. 

It is always worth researching the period features and preserving any that you have in your home.

If you find a period feature that is already broken, consider fixing it before giving up on it completely. Your pockets will thank you in the long run! 

Calculator and Money drawing

The Finances of a Renovation

Now for the not so great part of a renovation - working out the finances.

We know it’s not what you want to hear about, but we encourage you to sit down and create an estimate before buying anything. Otherwise, you might find yourself in trouble after you’ve blown your entire budget on one job. It pays to be prepared! 

First thing’s first, research per-square-foot values in the neighborhood. It's wise to only renovate to a level in keeping with the neighborhood and its property values. While over-renovating will get you a fast buyer if you want one, you won’t make back the money you’ve invested. 

On the other hand, if you are planning on living in your renovated house you can over-renovate to your heart’s content. Just make sure that you don’t waste too much of your budget on unimportant things and get the cheap alternatives for the essentials. 

You should have set a budget to buy and/or renovate the property by this point. You know how much you have to spare and you should aim to stick to your budget as far as possible. However, it is also wise to set a contingency sum of money and keep it stored away for potential issues. 

20% of your overall budget would be a safe contingency budget. However, this is not always possible for everyone. If you do not have an impressive contingency budget, you should try to renovate below the main budget so that there is still money left for anything that goes wrong. 

If you’re renovating to sell, make sure you build in reasonable profit to the renovation-cost.

If you’re renovating for your own pleasure, that’s less important because the renovations will depreciate over time, but you’ll get the active pleasure of living in the place all the while.

Hard hat and plans drawing

Create a Design for Your House Renovation

If you’ve made a budget, you’re sure to have a rough idea for your new property. So, now its time to create a more detailed plan of what you’re going to do. Preferably you should do this in order of the task so you don’t accidentally miss a step. 

The list should also be sorted into must-do jobs down to potential tasks that you’d like to do if there was enough of the budget left over.

Break it down into Must-Do’s, to bring the house up to par – roofs, damp-proofing, any dodgy floors, etc, and Nice-To-Have – upgraded countertops, shower systems, underfloor heating, etc.  

Consider building a small team, unless you have architectural qualifications yourself if you are planning on messing with the structure of the house. While it seems easy enough to break down a wall, you could be messing with vital internal structures. It’s always worth being safe rather than sorry when it comes to expensive jobs such as this. 

Next up on the to-do list is to get a designer if you lack ideas yourself. Some people have overflowing brains full of interior design ideas, while others are slightly lacking in the fact. Hiring a professional designer can increase the value of your property, but it will take up some of your budget. 

Remember – if renovating to sell, it’s usually kitchens and bathrooms that sell houses, so make sure you’ve got enough money poured into a wow factor in those rooms. Also, you should never overlook the outside space, it’s the "smile" of a house and the first thing that guests and potential buyers see. 

If you need to shell out for landscaping and you’re renovating to sell, bite the bullet and just do it. If you’re renovating for your own purposes, this is less immediately important and can be done over time.

Still worth working with the designer while they’re on the project though, to get an overall feel for what you want to achieve.

Man with a calendar drawing

Produce a Work Schedule Timeline Plan

Having a work schedule can be very beneficial to ensure that you don’t waste too much time on a renovation project. Home renovations can take a long time to complete as it is, without even factoring in all of the waiting for the property to close and contractors to finish their tasks. 

This brings us to our next point - are you going to be hiring contractors or are you about to put your DIY skills to the test? Contractors get a bad reputation for not getting their jobs done on time, but it's still advised to get the difficult jobs completed by professional contractors. 

This avoids seriously harming yourself or a poor job affecting the house in the future. Having said that, it is possible for you to DIY the entire renovation yourself. Although, keep in mind, this will add a lot of time to your scheduled plan. 

Contractors will also be able to give you official documentation of work completed, and should stand by their work, in case either you, or whoever you sell to, had problems down the line. 

To give you a quick guideline of how long your renovation is likely to take, the kitchen and bathroom can take up to 12 weeks each. A room addition can take up to 16 weeks, and a basement finish requires at least 3 weeks.

If you’re doing all of the work yourself, you’re looking at a lengthy work schedule timeline. While it might save you money to do all the work yourself, we recommend finding a good balance between contracted work and DIY jobs. 

Group of contractors Drawing

Hiring Contractors or DIY?

We have already touched on this topic in the last step, but the decision of whether to use contractors or simply your DIY skills is a big one.

Some people prefer doing all the work themselves as it leaves them with a bigger sense of accomplishment and they have a greater appreciation for the work done. However, others believe in teamwork to get the job done in a shorter amount of time.

Getting the renovation done quickly means that you can get the house on the market and sold for a profit quicker. You would also be able to move into the property quicker with the help of contractors. 

DIY projects are, while fun and interesting, dangerous in some circumstances. For instance, deciding that you’re going to rewire your property yourself rather than hiring a qualified contractor could lead to faulty wiring or a pretty serious shock.

Ultimately, the decision of whether you choose to hire contractors or not is up to you. Just don’t put yourself at risk in order to save a couple of dollars within your budget.

Insurance checklist drawing

Consider Insurance for your House Renovation

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you factor in the insurance costs for your renovation project into the budget. Although, if you're like most people, you won't want to know the truth, but in many cases, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Purchase some insurance cover so you are protected and don’t end up in a bigger financial hole than you can manage. Also, while renovating, make sure you’re aware of local and national quality and safety standards – especially in California, where standards on emissions, additions, and even the likes of bathroom furniture, exceed EPA standards, due to local ordinances.

Ignoring these rules can get you in serious trouble and force your renovation project to come to a halt. Having a good insurance company can help protect yourself by preventing you from ever breaking the rules in the first place. 

Man with a wrench outside a house drawing

Make the Site Safe and Remove Unwanted Fixtures and Fittings

The safety of your house is your responsibility, so it's important to provide a safe working environment for contractors.

Not only is it rather rude to leave the house messy while professionals are working on your renovation, but it can also slow down the overall time taken as the contractors will have to keep stepping over the mess on the floor. 

Don’t leave tools all over the place, make sure that the structure is safe enough to walk around, or warn the contractors of dangerous spots beforehand, and keep the house free of exposed chemicals.

The contractors will be able to tell you whether you’ve done a good job on the safety of the house or not. If they’re not happy with the safety, they can certainly quit and leave you in the lurch. So, make sure that everything is safe for the professionals to work around without damaging anything.

Next up is the job of removing unwanted fixtures. You can ask the contractors to do this if you’d prefer, but it's likely to affect the time it takes them to finish their jobs. 

You can either store these unwanted features for renovations at other properties, or donate them to charity organizations such as Habit for Humanity. Alternatively, you could just sell them for a profit or toss them.

Two men a dog talking drawing

Brief the Neighbors

You don’t want to start off on the wrong foot with your neighbors, or maybe you do, we don’t know. However, we highly recommend that you brief the neighbors and fill them in on what’s happening. Most people don't enjoy being woken up unexpectedly to the sound of power tools.

Give them a heads up on what's going on, how long its likely to last, and why you’re doing it. Slipping a simple letter through their door should be enough to let them know that you’re starting a renovation. However, if you wanted to go the extra mile you could always stop by with a box of chocolates or a bottle of bubbly to say thank you for putting up with the relentless loud noises. 

Better still, invite them to dinner (you can DIY or cater in) when the work’s complete to say thanks for their understanding. Remember to think about all of the neighbors, not just the two on either side of your property. Consider the neighbors behind your property, opposite you, and the houses diagonal as well.

Workers in a house drawing

Start the Renovation Work

Now that you have all your plans, budget, and you’ve contacted the contractors and neighbors, you can finally start the exciting process of renovating the house!

We know that the planning process is incredibly long and all the while you’re just staring at the empty shell of a house that’s not looking any more promising. 

However, you did it and you’re finally able to begin the process so that you can start to see a difference in your property. Let’s take a look at how you’d go about kickstarting your project into full swing. 

Start with the Basics

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re beginning your renovation. However, it’s important to go slow and start with the basics.

The basics are dependent on the nature of your renovation, but it’s pretty evident what is basic and what isn’t.

Whether it’s a demolition and complete rebuild, a full-on roof repair, ripping up any floors, knocking down any walls, etc. Identifying what the basics ARE - essentially, anything that involves the fundamental structure and soundness of the building, walls, floors, ceilings, etc. is very important so that you don’t miss anything. 

The basics can be defined as anything that needs to be done before you can get other things done. For example, if the stove was installed in the kitchen, you’d be able to install the counters but you wouldn’t be able to fix the gas mains.

Think structure, foundations, walls, and flooring. Then search around for more basics until you’re certain that you can move onto the next step. 

Moving On to Phase Two

Phase two includes all of the appliances and fixtures that need to be plumbed in. The contractors will be most valuable here as well as helping with the basics, but phase two is much more fast-paced. 

You’ll be able to see big changes after each working day in phase two. One day the bathroom will be plumbed in, the next all the kitchen counters.

Doors and windows can be fitted in phase two as well as the landscaping and light fittings. 

If you’ve been considering knocking through a wall to make a large room or creating new spaces in the house, now is the time to do it. You can always add more to the house in the final step of the renovation, but it’s far more convenient to do it in the first or second phase. 

Phase two is the biggest and potentially longest section of your renovation. Make sure that you don’t rush it, as it's also the phase where most things can go wrong.

If you’re relying heavily on contractors, prepare for their original estimated finish dates to be pushed back. Sometimes the work takes longer than expected and other times the materials get delayed in transit. It’s not anyone’s fault, just one of the "not so great parts" of renovating houses. Don’t worry, the work will get done eventually. 

Finishing and Decorating

Finally, we arrive at the fun bit. There’s no feeling quite like finishing a house renovation after you’ve poured months or even years into planning and work.

Now that all of the plumbing, fittings, and hard stuff is out of the way you can get into the decorating. This is where you might choose to enlist the help of a designer and decorator if you are lacking in the creative area.

If you’re renovating to sell you could opt for one of two options - purchase minimal and inexpensive furniture and decorations to keep the cost down, or hire a decorator to maximize the asking price of the property. 

If you’re planning to sell you might not need to purchase furniture which will greatly reduce the costs, but make sure you paint and decorate as high-quality as possible. No one wants to purchase a house with patchy paint and peeling wallpaper. 

The decoration is often the main selling point of a house and it'll be the main thing that potential buyers see when they’re looking at pictures or viewing the property.

So, don’t skimp on this area and make sure that you’ve left enough budget behind to cater to the decor side of things.

Finally, don’t neglect the garden and landscaping. Again, it’s one of the first things that buyers see and it'll set their initial impression. Everyone loves a bit of greenery, so it's a good idea to have plenty of plants both inside and outside.

Standing in the living room drawing

Let's Get Renovating

There are plenty of benefits to renovating a house, and its a great project to get started with if you’re looking for a challenging and intricate hobby. Renovating a house can improve your living conditions, or it's a good way to earn a nice chunk of profit if you're renovating to sell.

Planning is essential when it comes to renovating a house so don’t rush the preparation process. It'll come back to bite you, trust us. The most successful house flippers have structured plans for the work that needs to be done with detailed budgets taking every potential issue into account. 

If you’re going to sell, look around for what's going to make you the most profit. Kitchens and bathrooms are the real moneymakers, but there's plenty more to be done to add value to a home. Ask around, enlist all the help you can get. 

When it comes to the budget, you’ll regret it deeply if you don’t have a contingency plan. At least a couple of things won't go as planned with the renovation process. You’ll need the funds to pay to get your project back on track, otherwise your project will come to a stop. 

Allow contractors and decorators to help you if you’re new to the renovation process. They can help with almost every aspect of the job and they’ll be a source of great advice.

Don’t forget about the decorations and don’t neglect the garden and landscaping. These are the curtains of your property and the forefront of what people see when seeing at your finished project.

Let people compliment your work - you sweated over it for long enough, you deserve it. 

The last piece of advice from us is to have your contractors for each phase set to roll in as and when required. This saves time and money and keeps everything moving during the renovation. Keep your neighbors happy, and get started!

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