I knew when I bought my house early last year that I wanted to do a big front porch addition.  There was NOTHING on the front of the house, just some concrete steps leading up to the front door.  Not only was it super ugly, but it was also a huge pain if it was raining since there wasn’t even an overhang to keep us dry!

Needless to say, I definitely learned some things from undertaking such a large renovation project.  Here are some tips for you to consider if you are thinking of doing home renovations too!

1. Get an estimate BEFORE you buy! If you find a home you are interested in purchasing, but know it needs some work, take a contractor with you to the house before you make a purchase. They will be able to give you an estimate on the time, labor, and material costs, and can save you from some surprises down the road!

2. Figure out how much you can afford to spent, and stick with it.  There’s no point in starting a project if you can’t afford to finish it.  Figure out how much you can afford before you hire someone to do your project, so you can afford to finish it!

3. Make two lists regarding your project: wants and needs. Once you know how much you can afford to spend, you will know where to put your money first: into the “needs” column.  If you need to update your space to function better for your family, focus on that first.  If you have money left after you’ve budgeted for your needs, you can spend some on the “wants” list, like some upgraded materials.  This way, you will be sure to have a finished project within your budget.

3. Hire a contractor: ask around. I always say in my business that referrals are the biggest compliments. You trust your family, friends, and co-workers, so ask them who they have used in the past.  They’ll be sure to tell you if they were satisfied with the contractor or not. Talk to several contractors and go with your gut.  Make sure you like them, because they will be in your home for a long time while doing your project, and make sure you feel good about their work.  Ask to see other finished projects. Ask lots of questions throughout the project to make sure you are both on the same page, design and budget-wise.

4. Get everything in writing!!!!! This, I cannot emphasize enough. I made several mistakes with this on my project, and it ended up hurting my budget in the end. You can get a quote on the entire project (including labor and materials), or you can get a quote for labor only and you agree to purchase the materials (some contractors up-charge for materials if you have them do it).  If you do the latter, make sure you get an estimate on how long the project will take and have the contractor agree in writing to a maximum labor amount.  If not, they may drag on and on…and on… because they are being paid for their time.

5. Timing. If you want to build a front porch, for example, time it so it will be ready to use for the warmer months.  I finished my project at the end of the summer, so I only had a short window to enjoy it when it was completed (oops!).

6. Take a before and after picture! It’s fun to look back and see that even though you had some ups and downs, that it was well worth the headache in the end :)!

Here’s my before and after (the after pic was still mid-construction, but you get the idea. Quite a change right?!

Home renovation can be challenging, time consuming, and frustrating, but can produce amazing results and be very rewarding. It’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions. Try and stay calm and know it will be over soon and it will help increase the value of your home in the long run! Silvergate Realty has a list of some great contractors, painters, and landscapers we are happy to set you up with who can help you estimate a project before you buy a home. Contact us to get started!