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So you think you can renovate

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Hey there! Heard you’re thinking of remodeling your home. You’ve been watching HGTV forever & have a mountain of House & Home magazines that could rival Everest. It’s a great way to get more money for resale. You’re ready to tackle some big projects. Right? Wellllll, how about you hang on there. I love the enthusiasm, but let’s take a step back and really research this before you go ahead and spend a ton of money and time. If you make the wrong moves, it has potential to be disastrous.

First things first, you often can’t do it yourself, even if you think you can. Most DIY shows on TV say you can, but beware- those pretty shows have been carefully edited to make it look easy. It’s costly to start a project on your own and not do a good job (or be able to finish it) and then need to hire a contractor to come in and fix it. Painting a wall…go for it. Installing a sink….you got it. But larger projects, like a new roof or HVAC system, require a qualified professional. If you are unsure at all about your project, you should file that one in the “hire a pro” category.

With that being said, be careful who you work with. The fact is that big money jobs attract all types to the industry, and you could get scammed by an unscrupulous contractor. It’s not fair to say they’re all that way, but they are out there. Do your research ahead of time and interview several contractors. Ask people you know and trust for recommendations; who did they use and would they use them again?

It is always, I repeat, always more difficult and expensive than you imagined. It’s practically impossible to find a contractor who can guarantee the estimate as the final bill. Most large reno jobs are riddled with surprises behind the walls or changes to orders, and this leads to more money and an extended finish date. Get an accurate, third-party quote for the work, and then add a mental 25% to both the cost and schedule.

It goes without saying that renovations can be, and usually are, extremely stressful. The Money Pit is a funny movie but it has some basis in reality. You can’t be renovating all the time. Be sure to maintain a balance in your life as best you can. If a major room is the project, a vacation or hotel stay may need to be in the budget as well.

Here’s a tough one: you may not recover the costs when it’s time to sell. Not all projects are created equal, and this is especially true when potential buyers are looking for your home. Additionally, many factors are at play, unrelated to renovations that have far more impact on the sale price of your home. Mortgage rates, the economy, and comparables all play a part. Just be aware that you may not recoup your entire investment. This is where your Realtor® can offer some insight.

This was not a blog to dissuade anyone from doing a renovation, but more as food for thought. You’re about to spend a whole pile of money and energy on something that may or may not pay off. Take a moment and pause, think outside the box and try to see the whole picture. Hiring the right people is key in both the planning and execution of the project. An educated Realtor® can certainly help point you in the right direction.