Ready to renovate your home? Experts offer sage advice to help you stay cool, calm and collected
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*This article first appeared in our latest Home Improver digital magazine
Here is some advice to help you stay calm during renovations, so when you’re finally installed in your great new spaces, you can look back on the process without shuddering.
Before you begin
A renovation starts long before a shovel goes into the ground. You need to know what you want, what you can afford; you’ll need plans drawn up, permissions granted.
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Then you will need to find a suitable contractor. There’s a lot of planning to do. Don’t rush this phase, or you’ll go crazy later. Where will you stay? Will you remain in your home amid the building chaos? Or will you stay with friends or family or rent somewhere?
Whatever you do, your routines will be upset and you and your family will be unsettled. Prepare for this.
No matter how well you plan your project or how good your contractor is, every home renovation project has variables. Materials will be delayed, the weather might make work impossible for a few days, someone might put a pick through a water main… Be philosophical.
Have a contingency fund
Somewhere along the way, your builder is going to come to you and say these terrifying words: “We have a problem.” What, he actually means is you have a problem and it is likely to cost you money.
A contingency fund means that, within reason, you’ll be able to pay to sort out the problem and keep the project on course.
Having no emergency money set aside could mean, at best, sacrificing some of your plans or, at worst, stopping the whole project while you raise funds. Experts recommend putting aside about 10% of the cost of the project.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed
Merely acknowledging you feel overwhelmed is a step in the right direction. It allows you to be real, and kind to yourself, and will also help others to know they should tread gently around you.
Everything does not have to be done yesterday
Set up time frames – not everything is urgent. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, figure out if there’s anything you can delay or reschedule to give yourself breathing room.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time
Have a detailed to-do list on which you break down the entire renovation into do-able tasks and then break each task into smaller tasks.
Know what you want and know what your budget is
Changing your mind about aspects of the reno while it is under way will lead to extra costs. It is better to have a very clear idea before building work starts – in fact before you sign the contract – and stick to it. Bright ideas halfway through cost money.
There are apps for things such as keeping track of how much you are spending which will help you stay within budget.
Have a place to keep all the contracts, a place to keep a track of everything you are buying or keep a book or drawer for the receipts so all the resources you need are at hand. This will help you get a grip on the project and help ease nerves. Another tip: Keep receipts etc long after you have finished the project – you can claim for improvements you’ve made against capital gains tax when it’s time to sell the property.
There are amazing online communities, such as Renovating Moms on Facebook, where followers give each other support and suggestions throughout the process. Make friends with others who’ve been through a renovation to get moral and other support.
Of course you want to make sure the builder is sticking to the brief, but don’t breathe down his neck. He’s the expert here. You don’t want to make him so nervous he starts making mistakes.
Keep an eye, but give him some space. Keep the faith It will end, eventually. And provided you’ve been sensible about planning and money, the dust will be swept away, the rubble will be removed, and you’ll find yourself in your lovely new home.
Read the latest Simply Green digital magazine below