Thinking Of Renovating Your Home? Here Is What You Need To Know Before You Get Started

house plans

One of the most exciting projects that a property holder can get involved in is home renovation. Your remodeling may be a simple issue of replacing some kitchen equipment or it could be an overall refashioning of your home. No matter which type of home renovation project you're undertaking, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before and during renovations.

Dreams and Budgets

Home renovation usually starts with a dream. Imagining what you want to put where and how it's going to look. Writing those ideas down will allow you to list the pros and cons of various models. For example, if you want to renovate and enclose your patio, you'll need to decide on the look you're attempting to achieve.

Sketching out rough plans will help you to plan things like through-traffic corridors and overall area allocation. Photographs from magazines, brochures and on websites such as Houzz will enable you to show a contractor what you want.

Once you've fleshed out your dreams, it's time to be practical. How much can you afford to spend on your home renovation? Take into account material costs, labor charges, and the unexpected expenses that will occur.

Energy Efficiency

When you're renovating your home, it's an ideal time to install and integrate energy efficient features into your plans, including:

  • Windows that are properly sealed.

  • Walls and roofs that are sufficiently insulated.

  • Replacing outdated, high-energy-consuming appliances.

  • Passive solar strategies such as skylights, high windows, light-sensitive controls, shading devices, natural ventilation, and vegetation.

Drawing up the Plans

You will need to have architectural plans for any structural renovations to your home. There are countless online resources for finding quality floor plans. Many provide lists of materials that will be needed and come with a standard License Agreement that gives you the license to build a single home from a purchased design. So if you are building matching houses, request a modification to the License Agreement!

Finding a Contractor

If you don't want to or feel unable to do the work yourself, you'll need to find a contractor to oversee your home renovation project. Here is a brief checklist of items to get you started researching when you're looking for a contractor:

  • Ask your friends and neighbors who have undertaken home renovations which contractors they used.

  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a list of contractors and reviews of those companies.

  • Confirm with a potential contractor that the company is qualified, licensed, and insured.

  • Request a written estimate for the work, and, when you decide on a contractor, get a written agreement that states what work is to be done, how long it will take, and what materials will be used.

Once a contractor has been engaged, discuss where materials will be stored and where vehicles will be parked. Have a short meeting each day with the contractor to make sure everything is on track and that you're getting what you requested.

Legal Issues

States, counties, and municipalities all have building codes that have to be observed. Certain home renovation projects have to be checked and passed by a building inspector. In addition, you may need permits to do various types of work, and renovations on historical homes have to meet certain standards. Check with the proper authorities to ensure you are complying with required regulations.

Ordering Materials

If you are doing the work yourself, you will need to order materials and, if you are using a contractor, you may be requested to do the ordering. Make sure that you know exactly what you need, how many of each item, which sizes and finishes are required, and the best places to order your materials from.

Wait until all your materials have arrived before starting work, as you may get to a crucial point and have to stop because you haven't yet received a certain component to complete, for example, a faucet or window installation. A detailed checklist of what's been ordered and what has arrived is invaluable.

Home Renovation Safety

If you are doing the home renovation yourself, you need:

  • Correct tools for each task.

  • Ladders or scaffolding for working on high areas.

  • Appropriate clothing that won't snag on equipment.

  • Proper safety gear such as eye goggles, gloves, and boots.

Electrical and plumbing work are usually beyond the scope of DIY enthusiasts, and it's important to call in qualified tradespeople to do this work on your home renovation project.

Other things to consider from a safety aspect are dust, lead, PCBs in caulk, and asbestos. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lays down guidelines about preparing a home for renovations and dealing with substances that may harm you, your family, or workers.


Remember to have fun during your home renovation project—the mess and stress won’t last forever.