By Candis Meredith
Starting a new renovation is always really exciting to me. I love walking through and seeing the state of the house before we start work, then starting to imagine what it’ll look like when we’re finished. As I sit down to design our improvements and renovations, though, I always stop to ask myself a few questions, first. Answering these questions helps me direct the project and make sure that we’re spending our budget on the right improvements. With my answers in mind, I know where to focus most of our time and money, what needs to be done first and what can wait until later.
How Fast Does the Project Need to Be Done?
If you’re planning on flipping a renovated property after you’re done, and you took out a high-interest loan to do all of your improvements, you’re going to need to move a lot faster than if you’re working with the profits from another renovation or if you’re working with an investor who’s very patient. Honestly, a lot of the time Andy and I work a lot slower than most “house-flippers” out there, and that works for the way we work and the level of accuracy we maintain with our renovations and restorations. It won’t work for everyone, though, so be sure to define your timeline for renovations.
When you know your timeline, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’ll be doing a lot of the work yourself, or whether you’ll need to hire professionals to get it done faster. This will affect your budget, but it’ll also help you sell the house faster, so it might pay off in the end to get some extra help.
What Updates Need to Be Made?
Take windows, for example. If you’re trying to stay as close to historically accurate as possible on the exterior of an older house, you’re going to have a challenge with your windows. Modern windows are more energy efficient, and you can frame them so that they work with the style of the house, but some restoration purists will give you a lot of guff about it. So which way do you go?
Basically, you need to look at the whole house as if you were a buyer looking for a place to call home for years to come. What do your buyers want in terms of modern amenities? Are they going to be willing to pay higher energy bills every summer and winter for more “accurate” windows? Probably not. That’s why it’s important to define exactly where you’re going to restore and where you’re going to update, so that you can figure out how you’ll work within your budget and keep a consistent look and feel throughout the house.
How Much Does It Matter to the Property Value?
As you take each renovation project into consideration, think about how it will affect the property value and the overall look of the house. Laminate flooring isn’t going to impress buyers looking at historic homes, but you don’t always have to pay top dollar for new materials, either. Resurfacing an old floor can save you a lot of money, and if you’re updating the kitchen, you probably won’t affect the value of the property much if you go with a quartz or granite look-alike slab instead of actual granite.
With these three questions, I get a really good idea of how the whole project is going to run and what I need to focus on. The renovations that cost the most and matter the most are going to get the most attention and the highest priority, and I can work from there to find room in the budget for everything that needs to get done.