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How to start home renovation—10 tips

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
by Benoit Viot Eirl
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You’ve finally taken that big step: a bigger kitchen, a new bathroom, or just a home extension to increase space. Much excitement! A contractor and his team are ready and waiting to start the process, and everything is set – or is it?

home renovation is a big job, with lots of work and lots of people (and ideas and responsibilities and egos) thrown in, which means a structure is essential. Not only will it remind everyone of their duties, but will also help ensure a smooth process and great end result.

And even though the chosen contractor and his crew will be doing the legwork, certain responsibilities lie with you and your attitude towards this renovation.

So, let’s take a look at 10 things you should absolutely not be doing when undertaking a home renovation project.

1. Expect perfection

scandinavian  by Od Nowa MEBLE, Scandinavian

Painting, tiling, brickwork, you name it – it’s done by craftsmen, not machines. And where humans are working, human error is to be expected. 

Thus, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting a 100% perfect process. Rather anticipate the occasional blunder, and you won’t be as shocked when it actually occurs.

2. Figure out the budget along the way

Structure your budget for a kitchen makeover like this: 60% for cabinetry, 25% for appliances, and 15% for countertops. And when it comes to a payment schedule, put in a respectable down payment; another one as things are being completed; and the balance when the job is done. 

Even though the proportion of the payments can be flexible, you need to work out the schedule in advance.

3. Pick the cheapest person for the job

The lowest bid isn’t usually the best – but neither is the highest.

Choose a high-end contractor and ask for a detailed proposal. Copy it minus the costs, and send it to additional contractors to complete, allowing you to see what others will be charging for the same work.

See our list of professionals here on homify to get you started.

4. Lose your temper

Upon meeting your contractor for the first time, keep your cool and stay polite. This may sound like a no-brainer, but your approach will not only affect their decision to work with you or not, but also their attitude towards you and your project.

5. Assume your contractor is licensed

We all know what “assume” makes out of you and me. So, ask to see your contractor’s license – if they’re the professional kind, they won’t mind one bit. 

And make sure they carry liability insurance; you don’t want to be held responsible for any work-related injuries caused by them.

6. Assume it’ll be over quickly


Don’t start planning that dinner party just yet – a decent kitchen renovation takes between six and nine months. And you don’t want to end up with a rushed job, do you?

7. Stay closed off to the crew and their ideas

Nobody’s forcing you to add the crew on Facebook, but there should be some form of relationship between all.

Being polite and friendly, and small details like letting them use your bathroom, can go a long way to a beautiful new (and possibly quicker) kitchen.

8. Rely on contractor-supplied references

What other customers say is what you should be focusing on. Search for previous clients’ praises and complaints online to find out the true stories.

9. Settle for a verbal contract

A home makeover is a major job, which means there needs to be a signed contract attached to it. This helps set out the agreements, avoid misunderstandings and disappointments.

10. Plan a renovation for a fantasy version of yourself

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That new room isn’t going to change your personality and make you become more organised, for example. We have to design for real life, not fantasy.

True, we can all pick up better habits along the way, and a new room can help (by adding new storage space, for example), but don’t expect this renovation to alter your character – that’s up to you. 

To inspire some makeover magic for your exterior spaces, see: The ultimate British garden addition.

Planning a renovation at home? Tell us all about it...
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