Budgeting 201

Essential Tips to Help You Plan Your Home Renovation

October 18, 2023

Whether you’re thinking about a big or small home renovation, both stress and costs can get out of control fast. We’ve got home renovation tips to help you make your project a success and keep your budget in the bag.

Our home remodeling tips cover many aspects of a project, from planning to budgeting, prioritizing work, hiring a contractor and financing your remodeling job, whether with a personal loan from Check `n Go or an alternative. Let’s get started.

Planning Your Home Renovation Project

Planning is the #1 house renovation tip for avoiding problems and helping your renovation go smoothly. And you’ll want to plan just about everything.

Think about what you want in the renovated area. Write down your wish list. Then look at options for every finish and make decisions. If you’re especially concerned about meeting a deadline, you may even want to choose contingency finishes. If something happens with the budget or the timeline, you’ll have less expensive options already selected. This will make it easy to find a quick solution that won’t delay your project.

Setting a Home Renovation Budget

Think about how much money you can spend on your renovations. That’s your budget for the renovation. Most pros recommend you set aside 10% of that renovation budget for possible problems and cost increases, so if the most you can spend is $5000, you should plan to budget the job at $4500.

Once you know how much you can spend, list everything you need to include in the budget. Your list should include labor and materials, but also things like money for permits, equipment rental, even tax on purchases. The more detail you get into your budget, the fewer surprises you’ll have later.  Adjust as needed to work within your spending limit.

Once you have the work outlined and know what you can spend, you can request estimates from contractors. If the estimates don’t line up with what you planned, you may need to make some choices about what to include, review your plan for items not included, or request an additional contractor estimate. With any kind of budgeting, it can help to consider the 50/30/20 budget rule.

Prioritizing Renovation Areas

If you find yourself with contractor estimates beyond your budget, consider prioritizing renovation areas. This is a great way to work within budget constraints.

If you plan to stay in the home more than 5 years, perhaps you prioritize what’s needed to make the home livable first, then upgrade your appliances later.

You may even have to limit a job further. If you want to do an open concept area, you might choose to get the full project design done up front so it’s seamless, but divide the work into phases over months or years.

The key is, don’t feel like you have to get everything in one job – or even in one home.

Choosing the Right Contractor

Make sure to get estimates from multiple contractors. Ask friends, family, colleagues: have they done a renovation? Did they love their contractor? Look at online ratings, but don’t trust those alone. Every good contractor should be able to provide you with previous clients who are willing to provide a reference over the phone.

In general, don’t trust second- or third-hand references, at least not without further calls to a contractor’s references. And unless you know family members who are completely trustworthy and hardworking, it’s generally better to keep family relationships out of a renovation equation.

You can find lots of good advice online from successful contractors, so make the most of it as you choose your own. Look for tips on questions to ask, what to do before signing a contract, how to choose the right contractor, and more.

Look for a contractor with a good record. They should have at least three years’ in business and carry the appropriate licensing and insurance. Better Homes and Gardens suggests finding a contractor who is a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Check their record of disputes with organizations like the Better Business Bureau and your state’s consumer protection agency, and find out if they have disputes pending.

If you’re thinking of a DIY job, make sure you’re realistic about your own abilities and can handle the job. It’s ok to hire out the parts of the job you aren’t comfortable with; areas like electrical must be hired out unless you’re licensed. Be sure you get the right permits, even if you’re doing the work yourself. You or the future inhabitants of your home could be forced to tear out the work at a later date if a job isn’t appropriately permitted, and nobody wants to go through that.

We have a whole post full of details in case you’re looking to specifically finance your new roof, including choosing a contractor.

Exploring Loan Options with Check `n Go

You have a variety of financing options for home renovation. Those with great credit who are considering extensive and/or expensive renovations may qualify for home equity loans and other options. But are there options for small jobs – and those with challenging credit?

Yes. Personal loans, also known as installment loans or home improvement loans, can be a great option for financing a small renovation, particularly for those with credit challenges. They are unsecured loans, so they don’t require collateral. These loans are available from Check `n Go, banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Apply For an Installment Loan

 Safety Measures During Home Renovation

Safety is a critical piece in planning and managing a home renovation. Try these tips to keep your family and fur friends safe during construction.

  • Plan for your family’s routine. If possible, work with your contractor to allow for your routine. For example, if you get kids ready for school and get out the door to work by 7, ask your contractor to start after that.
  • Keep your kids safe. Install gates to protect little ones from construction areas. Have your kids wear shoes in the house if there’s the potential for debris. Communicate with your kids where they are allowed during construction and where they shouldn’t go. And be sure sharp items and power tools are out of reach for small hands.
  • Protect your pets. Don’t forget your fur babies during construction. The noise and new people in the house can be distressing for pets. Strong odors and chemicals can also affect them. Be sure they have a safe place to go to escape it all, like a crate or bed in a quiet room. Use baby gates to keep them out of areas with hazards – and away from doors that could be open during construction. Consider having them stay with a family member or other friends during the major part of construction.

FAQs: Home Renovation Tips

How do I apply for a home renovation loan with Check `n Go?

Visit checkngo.com or any Check `n Go store to apply.

What are the benefits of using installment loans for home renovation?

Installment loans are widely available, even to those with challenging credit. These loans, also known as personal loans, don’t require collateral. They may also have fewer fees and be available in smaller amounts for those who don’t need or want a large loan.

In what order should you renovate a house?

This is largely personal preference. Consider the rooms you use most and whether you want to do those first or last. There are a wide variety of opinions on the subject, including those from House Beautiful and Martha Stewart, so try a web search for more information.

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