Home Renovation Tips, Volume 3: Backup Living Plans, Ordering Materials & More

by Kelley Rowland

Sweeten renovators share what they wish they’d known: Having a backup living plan during construction, preparing to order materials, and more 

No matter how much you prepare for a renovation, you can’t be ready for every unexpected issue that arises. With the right general contractor as your partner, you’ll have help in navigating the process and handling roadblocks. Take it from these Sweeten renovators, who all went through a renovation and came out with a home, sweet, home. Along the way, they learned invaluable lessons about home renovation: see their advice below. 

Renovation Tip 1: Do the renovation all at once (if you can)

couple portraitWhen Jeremy and Chris’ renovation of their kitchen, bathroom, and foyer was all said and done, they learned one major lesson: complete every room or space all at once. Jeremy explained that for him, it wasn’t about the disruption or costs, but about the final product. “Few of us really have the talent to create a cohesive space in small increments,” he said. Their bedroom had become a storage spot for their furniture during the remodel and wasn’t part of the renovation scope.

Renovation Tip 2: Material selection can be more stressful than you’d think

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, renovation, living room, kitchenDespite having planned a renovation (and making the design decisions) previously, one Sweeten renovator realized just how much work it takes to select all the materials. She renovated multiple spaces in her homeincluding the kitchen and bathroom. Not only was she selecting the finishes, but she also had to make sure she ordered enough of them, plus coordinate delivery and timing. “If you can hire a designer whose aesthetic you trust to select all the materials for you, do it!” 

Renovation Tip 3: Create two budgets (to prepare for surprises!)

Park Slope, Brooklyn, renovation, portraitFrom replacing the floors (and discovering a lack of subfloor) to gutting their bathroom, Katie and Marcus faced their share of surprises during their renovation. Her main takeaway? Budget. The Sweeten cost guides helped them get an idea of what they’d spend, though in retrospect Katie shared it would’ve been great given their unexpected circumstances to create two: an “on paper this is what we want to spend” budget and a “we cannot afford to go over this number” budget.

Renovation Tip 4: Book your back-up living situation for extra time from the get-go

Rattenbury family portrait, home, renovation, Clinton Hill, BrooklynWe always encourage renovators to move out of their homes during a remodel if they can. Courtney and Jim planned ahead and rented an apartment for their family of four during the renovation of their entire apartment. The schedule fell a bit behind due to delivery delays. Subsequently, they had to leave their rental and move back into their unfinished home. “It was a bit uncomfortable, but not unmanageable. In hindsight, we probably should have just booked the rental for an extra week as insurance,” Courtney said.

Renovation Tip 5: If you’re short on time, hire an architect

Lynn and Craig, who struggled to find a general contractor before coming to Sweeten, realize how much their project would’ve benefited from hiring an architect. Lynn has a background in exhibit design, which helped in planning the bathroom remodels and wall removal in the home. From a time-management perspective, however, they realized a renovation is basically a second job. “We now understand why people hire architects. If you have less design experience or a tight timeline, try to work with a professional who can do the groundwork for you.”

Want even more home renovation advice? See the other posts in this series: Volume 1 | Volume 2

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten

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