You’ve seen the TV shows: DIY Network, HGTV, and The Vanilla Ice Project. You’re feeling the pressure. If they can do it—if Vanilla Ice can do it—you can do it. You really should do it. Honestly, what have you been waiting for?
Maybe you’ve been waiting for a helpful how-to guide. You’re in luck! We've compiled a list of useful tips to keep in mind as you embark on your home remodeling journey. We don’t simply want you to survive. We want you and your project to thrive.
Planning makes perfect
This is the biggie and it’s a theme we’ll come back to. Home remodels aren’t spur of the moment affairs. They’re time-consuming, painstaking projects. The process can be considerably less time-consuming, painstaking (and costly) if you take the time to plot your course. This may include deciding which projects you want to take on yourself and which projects you want to farm out to a contractor. It may include studying photos for inspiration and reference on helpful home remodeling sites like Houzz. It should definitely include determining how much you’d like to spend and applying for the proper permits. Budgets are finite for most of us and adherence to city codes isn’t optional, unfortunately
Pro tip: Pace yourself. Trying to make all of these decisions simultaneously would cause even an experienced home remodeling pro like Vanilla Ice to melt down.
Don't just visualize it, draw it
“Back of the napkin” isn’t simply an expression used in business circles. It’s a testament to the value of creating drawings for life’s bigger, complex ideas. This includes sizable, involved home makeover ideas. Committing your vision to paper before you start spending money and busting up the joint will help you verify the project’s scope and spot key mistakes. It’s not what napkins were invented for, but it’s a perfectly acceptable way to use them.
Depending on the complexity of the project, more detailed drawings like layouts and cross-sections may actually be required for your remodeling project. For example, you may have to submit your drawings to your city’s Building and Planning department. (You’ll need an actual drawing for this. A napkin probably won’t do.)
When it comes to successful home remodeling projects, size truly matters. Experts say large projects should be done first because subsequent projects are invariably impacted by them. What do we mean by large projects? Roof work, foundation work, heating, cooling, electrical. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we’re pretty sure the foundation was laid before the marble was polished. The Spruce has a great order of operations guide for home remodeling projects.
Decide what you can do yourself
There are certain jobs you can do yourself even if you aren’t a skilled tradesperson—even if you can barely handle a hammer—painting, wainscoting, patching drywall, etc. These are the “greatest hits” of the DIY world, but you don’t have to be a rock star to play them. Doing at least some of the work yourself won’t make you a tradesman. It won’t make you Robert Matthew Van Winkle either, but it will save you a few bucks and make you feel integral to the process.
Know what you want, but don't obsess over it
Michelangelo was a perfectionist. You don’t need to be. Always insist on what you want, but be prepared to compromise. Home remodels invariably involve lots of moving parts: style, design, products, materials, finishes, and more. Not every aspect of your project will turn out exactly as you envisioned it. It won’t be exactly as you drew it up, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a success. Be firm, but remain flexible.
Renovating or remodeling can be a fun and fulfilling experience. No, really. Success hinges on a variety of factors, not all of which are under your control. Control what you can and remember: chance favors the prepared home remodeler. The more you put into it in advance, the smoother the process will ultimately go. That’s good news for your project and good news for your peace of mind.