Renovating- Everything You Need to Know Before Starting

organize your home renovation

If you’re thinking that renovating your home is an easy peasy job that needs no planning or rules to follow, you couldn’t be much farther from the truth. Not only do you need to plan your renovation a long time in advance, but you also need to avoid some mistakes by keeping in mind a tip or two (actually, there’s a lot more than a couple of tips that you need to remember).

The 5 things to know about renovating

Even if this isn’t your first renovation, you still may want to scroll down. After all, not being happy with the results the first time may be the reason for which you’re thinking about renovating once again.

  • All houses are flippable

Did you ever try house hunting? If so, you must definitely know the feeling of walking into a “renovator’s treasure” house, only to find out later that the house is practically doomed.

It sounds incredible, but all houses may be turned around (some say that the more ruined the house, the better).

With a little imagination, hard work and plenty of patience, you can give a whole new life to any house. As long as you’re determined to do it right.

  • Rending a house in just one weekend? Yes, totally doable!

Truth be told, if you’ve got the skills, it may take you only two days to change the whole appearance of your home. You don’t really need to restore a house when you want to give it a fresher look- you can simply paint, for instance, right on the bricks.

Hire a professional painter (if you don’t have the steady hand) and get a spray gun as well. Don’t forget to tape up the windows and gutters so that it’s easier to clean afterwards.

Therefore, you don’t have to render the whole house as a bit of painting may do the trick as well!

  • The house renovation doesn’t have to take you an eternity!

You can renovate your entire house and the backyard in just 6 weeks. Never mind the stories you’ve heard about renovations that go on for years, that doesn’t have to be the case of you. As long as you’re planning early, work late and use a lot of spray guns, you should be able to do with everything a lot sooner than expected.

  • Yes, you can have too much open space

We all love having an open space inside and outside of our house. A summer barbecue, a lovely dinner in the winter with your friends- it’s all so much nicer when you have the space for it. You can learn the hard way that too much open space may ruin your events.

A renovation is just the perfect occasion for you to add some walls so that you cut down the noise and to make the space more livable.

  • Put your faith and trust in grout and details.

Sometimes it’s the little details that make the whole difference to your new renovated house. We’re not saying that the amazing new staircase may not be as dramatic as you planned, but you can get the same effect with a lot less money. Some contrasting grout in the tiles is going to make the tiles pop, giving you that impressive feel that you were hoping to get. The small details really count and they save you some bucks too.

EXTRA: Use some statement splash backs

You can add some details that are going to get the best out of your imagination. You can add a splash of color and texture to the neutral-colored furniture, which is going to take the blunt feel away from the room.

The choices are many and various and you don’t need to spend the extra buck for them. Even if it’s going to cost you a bit more than expected, you’re not going to need to use many of those little details. You should take the leap of faith and spend the high dollar for something really special. However, keep in mind that you may find impressive options when you’re tight on a budget as well so spend time for finding the best option for you.

Here are some accents that may give a room an entire different feel:

  • Faux brick

You may select a bit of splash back that matches the current theme of a room. You can go with a brick wallpaper and a mirrored splash back for an industrial feel in your kitchen with less money than expected.

  • Mirrors

Mirrors may be the favorite little trick of designers when they want to make a room look bigger. You can go with a little vignette for capturing in the reflection, no matter if it’s a water feature from your garden or a leafy area. Either way, it can make a big difference in your living room or any other room.

  • Stone

If you’re interested into creating a different vibe for your kitchen, you can use some stone features. You can use it as a work surface and the choices are many. The stone details really add a luxurious feel to any kitchen or any other space in your house.

  • Wallpaper

The wallpaper is a budget-friendly option and it comes in so many patterns, colors to choose from. Keep in mind to install a sheet of glass over the wallpaper in the kitchen though as you want it in good shape until the next renovation.

  • Contemporary tiles

Walking down the road of tiles may be tiring. There are endless options when it comes to sizes and colors. Geometric tiles are a big hit right now and you can get them in so many patterns, colors and shapes. Not finding one for your house is practically impossible.

Plan your renovation- use the renovation timeline

One of the most common mistakes when renovating is not having it planned right from the beginning. There are many things to take care of and you should have them under control so that everything runs smooth and fast. Or at least better and faster than expected.

  • 12 months before- Create a mood board

Think of everything you like and add it to this mood board. Flowers, colors, places, holiday places, food-everything that creates your happy place. Visualizing things is going to ease up the whole renovation.

  • 6-12 months before- Have a walk in showrooms

Now it’s time to do some window shopping. Write down what you really like, making sure you also take note of the prices. Don’t underestimate the costs and try to prepare for the worst (hoping for the best, of course!).

  • 6 months before- Fix your budget

Make sure you get the right idea about the money that you’re going to be able to spend with your renovations. Prepare back-up plans, seek where you can cut down in case of anything. Don’t apply for a loan unless it’s absolutely necessary. Last thing you want is to have more debts, right?

  • 5 months before- have a chat with the specialists

Now it’s about time to have a meeting with the kitchen/bathroom specialists so that you decide together about the ideas and costs.

They may have better ideas for your house and you need to work together so that you get the house you want (without breaking the bank, if possible). Renovation isn’t only about colors, but also about how to combine various materials, textures and a professional should be able to help you on that.

  • 4-5 months before- Bathroom/Kitchen Specialist or separate contractors?

You’re going to get a better control over the things when you’re going with different contractors. However, if you decide to hire a kitchen/bathroom specialist, you’re going to pass on the challenging work to them. They’re going to take care of the whole project from scratch so make sure you choose wisely.

  • 3 months before- decide on the start/finish date

If you’re going to manage the whole renovation all by yourself, you’re going to have to send your project plan to everyone involved so that they confirm it. Should you go with a specialist instead, make sure you get him/her commit to the planned dates.

Don’t forget that there’s always a slight chance for delays. Illness among the workers, materials shortages, some unexpected discovery of dampness- there’s always the risk for them to happen.

  • 2-3 months before- Select and order your finishes

Even though they may look like the final touches, you should keep in mind that the right splash back in your kitchen could mean the world to its final appearance. A feature tile is going to give you the luxurious feel that you were going for.

If you’re going to have to order your tiles from abroad, plan ahead so that you’re able to actually use them before you’re done with the renovation.

  • 2 months before- Get the fittings, fixtures and appliances

The minute your contractor agrees on the fixtures, don’t sit on the fence and go get them already. This also applies to the dishwasher, fridge or the bohemian bathrobe hooks that you’ve loved so much when you were hunting high and low for some fresh ideas.

  • 1month before- Organize the painters

You should give your painters a month’s notice so that you make sure that they’re going to be there. Last thing you want is to wait for the finishing paint touch after everyone else involved has already done their job.

  • 1-2 weeks before- Book carpet&house cleaners

This is one part we all hate. All the dust that even a smallest room may produce is annoying and it can go in every little crevice in a room. You don’t want to go there so it’s better to contract the professionals for a deep clean.

  • EXTRA: if you’re determined to clean the house on your own, here are the things you’re going to have to take care of. Maybe checking this list is going to help you decide go with the professionals instead:
    • You need to clean all walls, without skipping the molding. You should go with dry dusting if the walls are freshly painted. Use a damp towel for wiping the old paint on the walls. You can reach the high places with a towel wrapped around a broom/extension duster. Should you have your walls covered in natural material (grasscloth is one)/textured wallpaper, you may want to vacuum them with the brush attachment. Don’t forget to run a spot check first in the case of other types of wallpapers before wiping them down with a damp cloth.
    • Clean your upholstered furniture with the upholstery attachment. Don’t forget about your mattresses or all fabric window treatments and accessories.
    • Go over your carpeted floors and vacuum them several times. When you have tile/linoleum or wood floors, you should also follow the vacuuming with a thorough mopping.
    • Unscrew and use some warm and soapy water for cleaning your vents
    • If you’re not planning to install new light fixtures, you should take them down and give them a good clean. Clean the blades on your ceiling fan as well.
    • Give the air filters in your home a good check and change them, if necessary. Some painters like to remove filters as they’re painting, without putting them back in. Make sure you keep an eye on them as a missing filter may damage the furnace for good. However, it’s wiser to replace the filter when you’re done with the renovations.
    • Don’t forget about the wood or metal furniture, knickknacks and all the various miscellaneous in your home. Use a damp rag to give them a good clean.

Still want to do it on your own?

  • 2 weeks after completion- Go over the snag list

Most contractors out there are going to give you some time to identify and point any problems with the renovation. If the bathroom mixer is a bit wobbly or the cutlery drawer’s jams shut, don’t hesitate to point them the issues asap. A good contractor isn’t going to wait for fixing any problem.

How to avoid mistakes when renovating. What are the solutions?

Last thing you want when you’re planning a renovation is to go through with it only to realize in the end that it’s nothing as you dreamed about. Some recommend take it step by step and do bits and bobs here and there. However, there are many voices out there that suggest the contrary: take a deep breath and do it all at once.

There’s a lot of foresight, planning and research involved in any renovation. It’s both exciting and challenging and there are so many factors to consider. No matter how much one plans or how meticulous you are about the whole process, it seems that it’s quite common for the home renovators to feel a tad underwhelmed at the end of it all.

Truth be told, it seems that one in 3 renovators do feel renovation regret, which is quite worrying.

Nobody wants to go on with a renovation and end up all disappointed so here are some of the common mistakes related to the whole process. wWe also give you some solutions so it’s easier for you to do it all right.

  • You lose the functionality aspect

If you ever renovated in your life, you do know by now that it never goes as smoothly as planned. In addition, it seems that 80% of renovators have to compromise a lot, especially because of a tight budget, but also because some council regulations and design problems. This leads to unfortunate solutions that impact the functionality of a specific space.

  • The solution?

Make sure you have a very clear image of your priorities. If you’re planning to entertain a lot, but you need to reduce the size of the dining space for that, it’s better to consider other options. For instance, you could use some of the garden space to create an entertainment space instead. You’re going to maintain a nice useful space inside your home, without sacrificing the entertainment space that you like so much.

Take the whole thing to a new level and become a list person, documenting everything related to your renovation. Put together a list of your priorities and your budget too. You should be able to see what you scratch off that list, without losing focus on your priorities.

  • You don’t get the right look

Did you know that more than 3 quarters of renovators appreciate the finished appearance of a home more than anything else? However, many of the renovators out there still end up with something that they didn’t envision in the first place.

  • The solution?

Know exactly what you want for the renovated house. Remember the mood board in the beginning? If you’re thinking about renovating your home, chances are you’re already online and reading through some magazine looking for some inspiration. Get all the info and images that are going to help you get a clearer image on your final look.

Don’t be afraid to add to the mood board everything that inspires you. Add the details from a restaurant you saw or the images from a favorite movie décor. The more details you add, the easier is going to be for you to decide what you really want for the house and what not.

The mood board isn’t going to be enough, though and you also need to know the terminology for your look. For instance, when you’re planning to create a Hampton’s style façade, you’re going to have to know about weatherboard cladding as well. You need to get all the building materials that are going to help you get the ideal look, without breaking the bank.

Materials are very important for getting a special appearance for your house. Keep in mind that contractors tend to work with the materials they use on a regular basis, forgetting about the modern options. Make sure you stick around and show them the newer choices.

  • You didn’t get the right advice

So it’s very clear to you what you’re trying to achieve and you also know exactly which are your priorities. You also did your homework and, in spite all of that, you’re still not the expert you think.

No matter how informed you are, unless you’re a professional contractor, you’re still far from understanding everything about the building process and the materials to use.

  • The solution?

You should have a talk with the renovators that were forced to learn the hard way what renovation is truly about. Better yet, sit down and chat with an architect or a builder that gets your vision.

If you’re still determined to be in charge of everything, you should keep all channels of communication open with your builder, any given day. It’s better to talk to him/her every day and even have him/her over to see that everything is working as planned. This is not the time to be proud and a know-it-all.

It’s also a good idea to get in touch and collaborate with builders that were involved in similar projects. They should be comfortable with listening to your ideas and material proposals. Working together is the key to a successful renovation.

  • Having to do it all over again

No matter how great an idea may sound to you, you may not get its challenges until you’re in the middle of actually doing it. For instance, you’re not going to realize that painting a mid-century fibro home isn’t as easy as you thought, especially when you’re not using the right materials. Paint brands are more different that you’d think and it’s going to take some trial and error until you get the right consistency and color.

Many beginners are going to find painting a lot more challenging than expected. Practice makes perfect so don’t lose hope. Even if you don’t get it right the first time, you’re definitely going to get better results next time.

  • The solution?

We cannot stress enough about the importance of doing your research. You should know exactly what you need and which materials fit your needs the best way. The moment you know what you need and what materials are good for getting you there, don’t forget to let your contractor know the brand you need.

For instance, if you’re going with a coastal vibe with an all-white interior, you should also install cladding (it’s going to add some texture). This technique is pretty popular in some areas. You want to go with this solution as the cladding comes already primed and ready to paint. This is going to reduce the risk for warping, flaking or swelling later on.

A tip to remember

Renovation is no walk in the park, but you can get it right if you have a clear vision on it all and you stick with your plan. Pay attention to the details and …prepare for the worst, hoping for the best!

Here’s a useful video from B&Q on how to prepare your walls and ceilings for painting:


About Amanda

I love to buy a lot of products for the home, and dissect them out. I split them into duds and winners, and share the findings here on my site. As a reader of my site, I'm aiming for your next purchase to be an informed and inspired one.

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