3 things to do before you start home renovations


A woman holding samples of different materials of bright patterns

Save money and avoid headaches with careful planning and prioritizing.  

Once you’ve decided to upgrade a kitchen, re-do a bath or make any home renovation, naturally you want to get started quickly. However, taking time to plan and prioritize before you knock down walls or sign a contract will save you money and headaches.

  1. Decide if it’s better to DIY or hire it out

Doing it yourself may seem cheaper at first but are you really accounting for all your costs? Like equipment you may have to buy or rent.

You must also be realistic about your skill set. If the room you’re redoing isn’t square, do you have the know-how for working around it?

A pro who does renovations every day has certainly faced challenges like walls that aren’t square, uneven floors and hidden water damage. Plus, if it turns out you need an engineer or other specialist, they’ll know who to hire.

If you choose to go with a pro, check out our guide to hiring contractors for home repairs and improvements.

  1. Determine your priorities

Renovations require myriad decisions. Custom or stock cabinets? Top-of-the line sculptural fixtures or keep it basic? Are you going after function or glam? Do you desire more natural light or warmer floors?

Each decision affects your budget. To determine how to best spend your money, prioritize each element with your end goal in mind. When it comes time to choose among materials or construction options, use your goal as a guide.

  1. Prepare for the unexpected

Two of the most common renovation headaches are time delays and unplanned expenses. This applies whether you DIY or hire a pro. That matte-finish tile you chose may be out of stock. A wall gets opened and you find more plumbing work is necessary. Rarely does a home renovation project go exactly as planned.

Accept that delays are likely.

Also, give your budget a buffer of at least 10 percent to cover surprises. If you have an older home, consider a buffer of 25 percent.

If you find that cash is tight, talk to us about a home equity loan or line of credit. Many members tap into their home equity to fund renovations.

Consumers helps more than 1,000 members finance land, homes and home improvement projects each year. When you need a mortgage or home equity line of credit, call us at 800-991-2221. We’re here to help you get the home of your dreams!

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