Home Reno Tips // Before You Begin

Devin and I bought our house in November 2011 and immediately began fixing it up so that we could move into it when we got married in June 2012. When we embarked on the process, I was a complete newb (I literally knew NOTHING about home renovations, except that you probably would need a hammer and a few trips to the Home Depot).

Devin was working as an electrician, his brother was starting his career as a carpenter, and their dad was an experienced carpenter. Our budget was a 1) generous wedding gift of money towards materials from his parents and 2) money Devin had saved from working. Even with such experienced construction workers in the family, there were lots of lessons we learned.

Devin and his friend are standing in what used to be the bathroom--completely gutted!
1. Prioritize. 
What needs to get done FIRST? For us, the bathroom had to be gutted and rebuilt before we moved in because it is the house's only bathroom. That's where we started.

2. Price it out before you start.
Get quotes on labor if you're not doing the work yourself, and find out what all the material would cost. Then, leave yourself wiggle room in the budget for unexpected disasters.

3. Pick out material you like, but be realistic. 
I go NUTS when the wives on HGTV blow half the reno budget on extra-expensive cabinets or tile that cost more than a private college education. Decide what your design style is--modern farmhouse? Sleek Ikea? The sale rack at Lowe's? (Hahaha...?) And then keep an eye out for when things go on sale.

4. Don't just settle for crappy materials just because you want to go full force ahead and stay on budget.
Save up! We didn't have the money or time for self-leveling grout to do the kitchen floor, and now our tiled floor is wavy and will eventually have to be redone. If we had saved up and given ourselves more time for that project, we could have done it right.

I was pulling up floor staples so we could sand the hardwood floors in my office that Devin built me!

5. Living in a partially renovated house can be frustrating, but it's not actually that bad! 
We survived it for 3-4 years. Our living room was decorated with power tools, everything had a lovely layer of drywall dust on it, and we still had friends over despite the chaos. Everyone who comes through will just be even more impressed when they get to see your house finished, because they saw it when it looked crazy! When constantly looking at the unfinished projects start to get to you, thank God that you have a space to renovate and think of how far the project has come from when you first started. Then, go camping because it's a cheap vacation and you don't have to look at 20383 tools lying on your floor.

Have you done any big projects to your space? Would you add anything to this list? What's your design style? 

If you want to see our most recent renovation projects, check out the upstairs renovation and how the office got turned into a nursery

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