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Planning a Home Renovation: 5 Key Questions to Ask

A home remodel can be a pretty big undertaking, and it can come with a hefty budget. If you’re planning a home renovation, here are 5 important questions to ask before you get started in order to help ensure you’re spending your money wisely.

1. How long are you going to stay in your home?

planning a home renovation: white kitchen and blue cabinets

Family considerations

If you intend to remain in your home long after your remodel is complete, you should consider how your new space(s) should meet your needs as you get older. That could mean adding accessibility features to help you age in place or to help other family members do so who may move in with you. This can include things like curbless showers and non-slip floors in the bathroom or making pantry space and cabinets more accessible in your kitchen.

If you plan to have children, consider how to make your home more kid-friendly. Options may include durable floors and cabinets, rounded cabinet and countertop corners, or a combined mudroom/laundry area to make washing up more seamless.

Resale considerations

A remodel can also be a great way to boost your home’s resale value… if you plan to stay in it for a while after the work is done. And resale value can differ depending on which space you’re renovating. With lighter remodels, kitchens can feature a return closer to 80%; bathrooms somewhere around 70% on average. However in major remodels, both kitchen and bathrooms return about 60% of your cost immediately. If you’re most concerned about immediate resale value and what will make a greater impact to potential buyers, the kitchen remodel is often times the better option.

2. What is your budget?

planning a home renovation: luxury master bath remodel with slab wall

Compile a general budget

When planning a home renovation, you really want to figure out your budget. To get an idea of what your home remodeling costs may be, it’s a good idea to start with a basic budget checklist. List out all the major renovation components to figure out if your project requires a $50,000 budget or a $500,000 one.

So, how do you do that? Start by separating out the various aspects of your remodel. If you want to do a whole home remodel for example, one part would be the kitchen. Another would be the bathroom. The deck may be next, and so on. Each major space to be remodeled can then have budgets assigned to them.

You can find a host of average remodel costs online, but they can vary widely depending on location, finishes, square footage, and other factors, so be sure to take those into account. One place to start is the latest Cost vs. Value report. It presents average costs for different projects by type, such as master bathroom, kitchen, etc., and details the aspects of work being done in each scenario to give you a better idea of how your project may stack up. It also breaks average costs down by geographic area.

Dig in to the details

After you’ve compiled your basic budget, you’ll want to start focusing on the details. In order to get an accurate picture of those detailed costs, consider working with a professional contractor or design/build firm. And one that has a proven and transparent budgeting system, so you’re not left with any budgeting surprises.

At Lamont Bros., we use a straightforward “good, better, best” system to walk you through and price out each aspect of your remodel. For example, in the kitchen, we would have a separate bucket for your cabinets, your countertops, your plumbing fixtures, and so on, then we assign a “quality” category to each.

Your building partner or firm should work with you to determine which components are more important to you (must-haves vs. mice-to-haves) and which aspects may be more difficult and costly, in order to determine a detailed budget plan. The goal is to do a lot of this work upfront so you have a really good idea about costs before picking out — and paying for — particular products for your remodel.

3. Where am I going to live during the remodel?

house remodel framing

Once you’ve made the decision to remodel part or maybe even all of your home, you’ll need to consider how you are going to get by without a kitchen or a spare bathroom (or maybe even your only bathroom!) for several weeks.

A good contractor will be able to help here as well by taking steps to make the process as comfortable and safe as possible, whether you’re doing a kitchen remodel, a bathroom makeover, or even remodeling your whole home!

For example, creating a temporary kitchen space not only helps cut down costs of eating out during the remodel, it can also provide a semblance of normalcy while your main kitchen is off limits. If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and it’s your only one in the home, asking your contractor to set the toilet back at the end of each day and for help with setting up a temporary shower can go a long way to make living through the remodel more comfortable.

All in all, if you’re willing to live with a little inconvenience, it can make a lot of sense from a budget — and peace of mind — perspective to remain in your home during your renovation.

4. Can I make my remodel sustainable?

planning a home renovation: sheep wool insulation
photo credit

Decreasing your home’s environmental footprint, and making it more energy-efficient, can not only increase your home’s value, it can also save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

One way to accomplish this is to use products that have low or no VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These are invisible particles that are given off from a variety of new materials in the home, including some paints, cabinets, flooring materials, and drywall. There are now several alternatives with low or no VOCs available on the market to help make your home safer and more environmentally friendly.

Solar panels or solar friendly design are other ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint and go greener. Even the type of insulation you use can make a difference. For example, natural insulation like sheep’s wool can use up to 15% less energy to manufacture than fiberglass insulation. Plus, it can help decrease air pollution inside your home and is 100% biodegradable.

5. What type of permits to I need?

Another key question you want to consider before you begin your remodel is whether you can actually accomplish want you want to in the neighborhood where you live. For example, if you live in a historic area, there may be limits on what sorts of changes you can make to your home. Similarly, if you’re governed by an HOA, other remodeling restrictions may apply.

If you’re planning on major renovations, or looking to do an addition or add an ADU, permits from your local city government will also be needed. A good contractor or design-build firm will be able to take care of the permits and help walk through your options if you live in a historic home or one that falls under an HOA. The critical part here is to make sure you know your options before work gets underway rather than having to make any necessary — and potentially costly — adjustments afterwards.

Are you thinking about a home remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’d love to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!