Okay, so home renovations aren’t as bad as social distancing in the Age of Corona, but they’re no Sunday walk in the park, either. If you have friends or family who’ve renovated, they’ve no doubt told you of the horrors of not having a kitchen for twelve weeks, bathing at the Y, or worse! Okay, even that’s a bit of a stretch, but then again, not entirely. To prevent yourself from spiraling out of control while you try to navigate the impossible of Remodeling, here are our best tips for preparing properly for your renovation.

Instead of indulging in Facebook or Dr. Pimple Popper videos, spend your time researching! Not just what types of design trends are in for inspiration – though, let’s be honest, that’s the best part – but everything from average expected cost to hiring a contractor to sourcing affordable materials. The more research you do, the better versed you will be in decision making and planning. Don’t forget to research permits, insurance, as well as projected timeframes and inconveniences. Having to go without a kitchen or bathroom – or home in some cases – for a period of time affects not only your daily grind and habits, but your monthly overhead as well. Which brings us to phase 2.

Obviously, you need an idea of what you are likely to spend and what you can spend. You may not get the room of your dreams, but you can still make changes that up your property value and quality of life while sticking to a budget. When it comes to how much you have to spend, the rule to remember in borrowing is never borrow more than you can comfortably pay back. Life happens. Be modest with the added overhead you can handle in paying off a Home Equity loan or line of credit.

Before coming up with plans and schemes, put aside 20% of your entire budget for emergencies. It could be a pipe bursting, damaged wood, mold, electrical issues… the list goes on. But it is far better to have an emergency fund and not need it than it is to have an emergency and need some funds. If you don’t use it, you can either leave it be and not pay interest on that amount, or spoil yourself with an upgrade like a new couch or custom curtains.

Once you begin allotting your budget, do it in a spreadsheet. Serious nerd-alert here, but a good spreadsheet never does you wrong. Itemize everything, print copies, provide them to your contractor, foreman, and spouse, and reference it daily – and as needed – to stay on track.

Ground Rules And Access
If there’s one thing you can’t truly prep for, it’s the real time experience of a reno. Like having a baby. You can nest, set up the nursery, child-proof everything! But when that bundle of joy arrives no amount of blog reading will paint the real picture of sleepless nights and vigilant care and attention to their needs. Suffice to say, your daily life will be uprooted with the kitchen being in the bathroom, no running water, and strangers coming in and out of your house.

Lay ground rules. When work begins and ends, clean-up and storage expectations, and pathways through the house including to and from the bathroom. More than that, designate a space that is all yours; untouched by mess and chaos. It’s no storm you can’t weather, but having a sanctuary and pieces of routine that aren’t interrupted will make it easier.

Our last bit of advice? It’s like we said; no amount of preparation can truly prepare you for what will happen. It may be nothing, it may be something huge. But with these bases covered you’re sure to sail through these seas with confidence and a little more ease.

If you’re in the renovation process, the topic is bound to come up in social conversations. If you’re like us and are mortally embarrassed when someone corrects your pronunciation of quinoa (seriously, what is that word???) then it stands to reason that you’d like to know what you’re talking about when friends start asking you about your home improvement project. Social situations aside, it’s also helpful to know what type of endeavor you’re headed for prior to breaking ground. So whether you want to sound more intellectual or have a better grasp on the task at hand, we’re here to delineate between the renovation and the remodel.

Interchangeable, Right?
Maybe in that social setting. But part of budgeting and preparing for a home improvement job is research. There are differences in everything from what’s being done to the final price tag. Research the wrong thing and it’ll rock your world. In most basic terms, a renovation is a substantially larger project, while remodeling is on a much smaller scale.

What’s Done
For renovations, everything plus the kitchen sink. Okay, not every project will include the kitchen sink. But in a renovation you’re looking at either scrapping everything and starting fresh, or making drastic changes to the structure itself.

Remodeling means you’re changing as many things as you want, but keeping the layout intact. In general, it’s mostly cosmetic upgrades. If you decide to knock out cabinets and go for something custom, that’s a reno project, but refacing them with new hardware and such is remodeling.

Price Tag
This is where you really want to understand the difference between the two. While it’s totally possible to spend as much (or close) on a remodel as it is a renovation, you’ll never spend on a renovation what you spend on a minor remodel. Renovations typically cost around $10,000 and up. Converting or adding on a room to your house can land you closer to the $100,000 range. Customization drives up prices as does the amount of work being done.

What makes a remodel expensive is the cost of materials and large purchases. Say, for example, you’re remodeling your kitchen. Throw in some marble countertops and the price skyrockets compared to if you took the cheaper tile route. Replacing all the appliances (dishwasher $500+, fridge $1,000+, stove/oven $500+) will also add to the final ticket price. However, you can instantly touch up your kitchen with a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures and hardware for less than $1,000. Even if you did all these things, plus new appliances, floors, countertops, and refaced cabinets you would still spend exponentially less than $10,000 and get an equally dramatic change.

Does It Really Matter?
Most likely, your contractor will know what you mean regardless of the verbiage you choose to use. Same goes with your friends and family. But in terms of providing a good reference point in mentally prepping for what’s in store, we find this trivial information to be of the utmost help.

Not every home renovation/remodel project needs the professional touch. Sure, the more complicated arenas of demolition and building or working with utilities is better left to the experienced. But when it comes to more mundane jobs, you’ll be fine with your two hands. Painting, for example, is one of the quickest ways to make a dramatic shift in your home without the need for a professional. If you’re in a renovation project yourself, you can save money by taking on this later step of the process. Before you get started, though, heed this advice for results that look like you shelled out the big bucks to make it happen.

Paint And The Weather
Truth be told, while it’s a relatively easy job (in the sense that literally anybody can do it) it’s an involved process that takes time, attention to detail, and steady work. You may not think the weather would affect your paint project at first, but it does. How? Drying times. Cold and humid weather extends the dry times, which extends the total time it will take to finish. If you’re working on a tight schedule, check the weather and pick a weekend that is likely to be sunny and warm. If you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s still manageable, but maybe don’t make any plans until it’s finished.

Tools For Success
If there’s one thing that’s going to result in success or failure, it’s having the right tools for the job. Specifically your paint, brushes, tape and rollers. These are where you want to spend your money. It isn’t so much about brand as it is quality and what’s right for your job.

The texture of your walls affect brushes and rollers. Highly textured walls need a roller with a thick nap (that’s the fluff of the roller). Too thin a nap and your paint won’t cover all the crevices of your popcorn drywall. Too thick for a smooth surface and you’re likely to end up with an uneven application and waste paint.

You want an angled brush that’s at least 2 inches wide and made of material that best suits the type of paint you’re using. The angle will allow you to reach into those corners and cut around trim and edges. Latex paint pairs best with a synthetic brush. If you’re using an oil-based paint, though, you want a natural paint brush (usually made with hog hair). Consult a team member at your local hardware/paint store for ultimate guidance.

Tape matters. You might think you can get away with the cheap brand, but taking that route can lead to bleeding and messy lines around your baseboards, the ceiling, and trim. All other tools, however (trays, liners, handles/extensions, dropcloths), don’t need to be top of the line. Save money here.

Where do you want to invest the most money? On your paint. A good quality paint (and there are plenty out there to choose from, fear not) will be the difference between a sophisticated, sleek finish, to something that looks, well… cheap.

There’s always a method to the madness. First, you always want to clear the area, properly store valuables, remove switchplates, and tape everything not being painted. You also want to clean the walls and allow them plenty of time to dry. As with anything, a clean surface is the first step to success. Dust and then wipe stains with a damp cloth (adding soap as needed; dish soaps with a degreasing agent for extra oomph). Best to do all of this prep work the night before you begin painting, so you can start fresh first thing in the morning.

Work from hard to easy. Cutting around the trim will be the most time consuming portion as it requires precision, care, and attention to detail. Always have a damp rag nearby should you accidentally spill or paint something that’s not supposed to be painted.

Because trim work is so meticulous and time consuming, always start with the edges and then fill in the blanks. If your room is particularly large or has lots of edgework, you may need to do one wall at a time. You don’t want the edges to become too dry before filling in with your roller.

After you’ve got the edges done, fill in with your roller in an “N” pattern. Applying the paint this way – as opposed to straight up and down – prevents lines and streaking, leaving you with a smooth, even coat. Wait about an hour between coats. If you’re going one wall at a time or a large room you may find that by the time you finish wall 4, wall 1 will be ready to go. You’ll know it’s time to apply the next coat when it is dry to the touch; not too dry, not too tacky. Always apply two coats.

Let your room dry overnight before restoring order to the chaos. Patience is a virtue. The last thing you want is to move furniture back in before it’s truly dry, bump a wall, and then you mess up the paint job and get paint on your lovely velvet couch. All in all, you can expect to spend a solid weekend (beginning Friday night and finishing Sunday afternoon) from start to finish on this project. It will be work, but it will be worth it. No go forth and conquer!