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Renovate Smarter, not Harder

Respect Your Remodeling Budget, Limit Unnecessary Demolition, and Background-Check Contractors

© 2013 by Michelle Rebecca; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Laying out a tile floor; photo courtesy Michelle Rebecca

Laying out a tile floor; photo courtesy Michelle Rebecca

This article was updated on 08/09/20.

When it comes to home renovation, wasting money on extras like exotic granite countertops, designer tile, and more is easier than you think. As always, want is a very different animal than need. As a victim of many last-minute decisions to do unnecessary upgrades that just drained my wallet and offered little value in return, were I to do it all over again I would definitely be much firmer about saying “yes” to some things and a loud, resounding “no” to others.

What makes my list? Read on.

Don’t Do More Just Because the Equipment’s There

I wish I had a nickel for every time a contractor said to me, “Well, you really should just do that project now, because we’ll have the equipment here already.”

Here’s the problem: I always agreed but didn’t have the extra funds to actually add that extra room or put in the pool. So while those with unlimited resources can take full advantage of having machines with Caterpillar parts on their properties, it wrecked my budget.

Do Your Driveway Last

Speaking of big machines—and let’s include dumpsters in this admittedly broad definition—don’t even think about doing your driveway renovation before a big construction project.

Huge trucks and heavy equipment not only cause big holes, they can wreck your landscaping design. Do your wallet a favor and do the exterior once the interior footprint is complete. Work from the inside out. As they say, ’Don’t paint yourself into a corner.”

No One Cares About Exotic Granite or Designer Tile

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Yes, but is it exotic granite?” That’s right: never. So don’t waste twice the money on costlier granite when all anyone really cares about is that it’s granite.

The same goes for tile, although you can feel free to browse a tile designer’s online catalog for inspiration.

Don’t Move Appliances and Systems

Moving anything that needs a drainage pipe, water, or a gas line means adding a huge amount to your electrical and plumbing tab. Whenever possible, work within your existing footprint. Even as small a thing as new sink drains not lining up can be a headache but there is a solution. Here is one misaligned sink solution.

Sure, your contractor will tell you “it’s no big deal“ to move your toilet, but check out two estimates just in case. And put the money you’ll save toward your next vacation, because you’ll need one after all this renovating.

Know When to Hire a Professional

Many homeowners instinctively think, hey! I can put that deck in/change that electrical panel/install a new roof myself! Guess what? Unless you’re an industry professional, you know exactly what you’re getting into, you have a lot of knowledgeable friends and you have a lot of free time, you can’t.

The point? Know when you’re beaten and hire a professional instead. A good place to find one is by word of mouth. They say that's the best advertising.

Always check for valid licensure, ask for references, and verify insurance coverage. There’s nothing worse than finding out too late that your contractor skipped town with half your deposit. That's the first step to renovating smarter, not harder.

About the Author:

Michelle is a blogger and freelancer. She’s written about almost every topic under the sun, and loves constantly learning about new subjects and industries while she’s writing. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs.

Visit Kelly's profile on Pinterest.

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