I learned A LOT last year. Honestly, I will probably never have a year where I learn so much in my life again. Everything was a first. From buying a house, hiring a contractor, designing *actual* plans, learning how much renovations cost, etc. I could go on and on.
The GBOGH house is officially sold and I am in full force gearing up for our next project. It's really allowed me to reflect on all the random tidbits I've learned here and there and I thought a fun blog post would be going over all those renovation tips that I have learned.
Some of the renovation tips are super random, some should probably be assumed, and some might just be "me" problems. hah!
Here are my top renovation tips / all the things I wish I knew before starting construction on my first house...
1. Order everything WAY earlier than you think.
Lead times are insane right now. We ordered our appliances in August, and they didnt get in until May. Crazy!!
2. Your budget will probably go at least 20% over. Plan accordingly.
After this first project, I will always budget at least 20% over what is initally expected. There is so many random things that come up that I would rather over plan than be in a "oh shit" situation.
3. Don't buy a corner lot.
Corner lots have so many more rules to them regarding what additions you can do and how far you can go out. This was something I had NO idea about when buying this home. Ironically, basically all the houses Ben and I fall in love with are corner lots so maybe its a sign that we need to suck it up and deal with the additional rules haha.
4. Dumpsters cost $500 a month.
OMG. I had no idea how much dumpsters cost!! Let alone, that you also have to pay for a permit every month for them! Definitely make sure you are budgeting for this.
5. Be INSANELY organized.
The more organized you are, the easier the process. From now on, every project I do will have a binder will all selections put together before the project even begins. The construction site will have multiples of these binders so that the team can reference them whenever there is questions.
6. Follow up on that one - have things printed out.
Print everything out so you can tape it to the wall or physically have it at the job site. Most people in construction are pretty old school so they like to be able to have actual pieces of paper.
7. Buy blue tape in bulk - you will use it ALL the time.
I swear every time I was at the house I had blue tape around my arm. Whenever I had any notes, I would use blue tape and write it out with a sharpie. Towards the end of the project, I went around and any nicks or things that needed to be taken care of would be "blue taped".
8. The smoother the wall the better.
Whatever you do, don't texture your walls!!! Try to do the minimum amount of texture that your dry waller will let you do.
9. Choose your contractor wisely. They will change how your project runs.
Really, really research before deciding who your contractor will be. Make sure to ask for references. If you get the wrong team involved on a project, it can be a nightmare.
10. Make sure you have the proper insurance! Take out more to account for the renovation.
You probably have insurance on your home already, but make sure to consult with your insurance agent about taking about additional insurance during the construction of a home. A lot of things can go wrong and you want to make sure you're preparing for the worst case.
11. Buy security cameras.
You're going to want security cameras for a few reasons. One, during construction your house is a lot more accessible so you want to be able to protect anything you have. And two, people will try to throw random stuff in your dumpsters. I never thought I would be a salty dumpster user until I was paying $500 a month for one. hah!
12. Be nice to everyone, but also know when to stick up for yourself.
This is one I am still learning but there is a fine line of being super nice and also knowing when to stick up for yourself. I always think the nice route is the way to go but you don't want to be too nice that they can take advantage of you!
13. File everything away. I use Google Drive and keep EVERYTHING. I am constantly referring to things and it makes it way easier!
You will get so many forms. From invoices, to construction documents, to important emails, and more. You will be referencing these all the time so make sure you have an organization system in place! I personally swear by Google Drive and have everything organized in there.
14. Add two months to your project timeline. It will save you a lot of stress!
Your project will absolutely be extended. My worst trait with the last house is thinking it would be done WAY earlier and stressing everyone out that it wasn't done yet.
15. Appliances take FOREVER to get in. These should be one of the first things you order!
Appliances should be one of the first things you order! They can take months to get in so plan accordingly. Also, you will need to know the measurements of your appliances for your cabinets so they are a super important piece!
16. Be super detailed about everything...people can't read your mind.
Never expect people to be able to read your mind. Have as much drawn up as possible and bring a ton of inspiration images!
17. It is definitely worth it to sample the paint color.
Paint colors are a HUGE part of the project. They can honestly change the way a room looks. I have a method I swear by for testing paint colors - you can see that method here.
18. Facebook Marketplace has SO many good finds. This is a really good place to sell things too (like old appliances).
I stalk Facebook Marketplace daily. There are so many good finds! I think a really well put together room has new pieces and older pieces. You can find amazing vintage pieces here for a great price.
19. Don't say yes to doing the DIY.
You'll hate yourself for it. (this is one of those me problems...I hate DIY's ). There were so many times where I would be stressed with money and be like "I can take down that wall!". Ben and I would then have to go on a holiday to demo a wall and I've realized for us...it's just not worth it haha. If you are a DIYer though, I am jealous because you can save a lot of money by doing things yourself.
20. Dont forget to think about plugs.
Where do you want Christmas lights to go? Add a plug. Where is TV being hung? Add a plug. Where will you make smoothies in the morning? Add a plug. Do you like to sit on your phone while using the toilet? Add a plug by the toilet. I truly believe you can never have too many plugs and this is often forgotten about!
21. ASK FOR REFERENCES.
And actually call them - this can save you from nightmare construction problems.
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