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4 Home Renovation Lessons I Learned The Hard Way

couple choosing renovation samples

If you're thinking about tackling a home renovation, whether you hire a contractor or DIY, let me share some hard-earned wisdom that can make your projects a lot less stressful. Home renovations can be so rewarding but are also a complex undertaking, and I've personally experienced plenty of highs and lows over the years. In this blog post, I'll discuss four essential lessons I've learned along the way. These lessons touch on budgeting, vendor selection, design considerations, and staying alert to deceptive tactics. Let's dive into these insights and help you navigate your renovation project with confidence!

Lesson 1: Building a Reserve into Your Budget

Let's talk finances. When it comes to home renovations, a well-planned budget is essential. However, unexpected issues often arise, demanding additional funds. Or, maybe you decide to add a few things or modify the original design. Changes, whether by choice or by necessity, can be extra stressful if you’re already at the top of your budget. To avoid this, build in a 10-15% budget reserve for small to medium-sized projects and 20% for larger or full-home renovations. This cushion can address unforeseen expenses and keep your project on track.

Lesson 2: Seek Vendor Recommendations from Trusted Sources

If you decide to hire a contractor, selecting reliable and reputable vendors is critical to a successful renovation. While online reviews can be helpful, the most reliable reviews are from people you know. Even better if you can see the completed work in person because portfolio pictures won’t show details and a skilled photographer can hide imperfections in photos. Ask me how I know. To avoid such disappointments, I recommend reaching out to friends, family, or colleagues who have recently undergone renovations and asking for firsthand recommendations. These personal referrals provide a level of assurance and accountability that can make a significant difference in your project's outcome.

real estate agent decorating office

Lesson 3: Give Design the Time it Deserves

The design phase of a renovation is an exciting opportunity to bring your vision to life. However, many people rush decision-making in an attempt to complete the project as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this can lead to regrets and costly modifications later. To ensure a satisfying outcome, take your time. Conduct thorough research, draw inspiration from various sources, and consult with professionals. Creating mock-ups or visualizations can also help solidify your design choices. Not sure how to style or design your new space? A great designer is worth every penny. By investing effort in the design process, you increase the likelihood of achieving a result that aligns with your vision and withstands the test of time.

Lesson 4: Watch for Bait and Switch Tactics

Some vendors will try just about anything to win your project, including utilizing deceptive tactics. These tactics involve enticing customers with appealing prices or promises, only to reveal hidden costs or lower-quality materials later on. To protect yourself from falling victim to such practices, it's essential to carefully review contracts, specifications, and estimates before committing to any vendor. One of the most common places that estimates fall short is in material costs. Check to see if the allocations given are reasonable for what you’d like to achieve. We once had a contractor quote us half of the cost needed to purchase even the lowest level stone countertops, and then attempt to gaslight us that the budget went up because we made expensive selections. The reality was it wasn’t possible to stay within the budget allotted, as even the cheapest materials were double the estimated price. Seek clarity on any ambiguous terms or conditions, ensuring that everything is clearly documented. Maintaining open lines of communication with vendors throughout the project and remaining attentive to inconsistencies or discrepancies can help you steer clear of unwanted surprises.

real estate agent staging family room

Starting a home renovation project is an exciting endeavor that requires careful planning and consideration. By following these 4 home renovation lessons I had to learn the hard way, you can navigate the renovation process with greater confidence and avoid unnecessary setbacks. Remember to allocate a budget reserve, seek recommendations from trusted sources, devote time to the design phase, and stay vigilant against deceptive tactics. Armed with these insights, you are well-equipped to transform your home into the haven you've always envisioned. Good luck on your renovation journey!



My name is Lindsay Walston.

I'm a healthcare provider turned real estate agent with an eye for luxurious details. Let me show you how to create (or find!) a beautiful and functional home, no matter your budget.  Want to learn more?

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