The things we do to ourselves just to get a few more modern conveniences in our homes really can take it’s toll on the most sane person I know…. and I should know! Right after I got married (a whole week later) I flipped a home that was previously one of my rental properties. How’s that for a timeline, lol! As if that wasn’t pushing me to crazytown on a speedy train, I also rehabbed another rental property right after that. I purchased and moved into another home while I flipped it, sold a different rental property in another state and then bought another house to flip. And then, right as I purchased that renovation, I had my first child. It’s like I don’t know when to quit but I will say… I have learned some lessons! It takes a lot to renovate a home as I’ve quickly found out. Starting off a new marriage renovating homes probably wasn’t the best decision on my part but I didn’t have a clue what I was in for. Not even a little! So I thought I would start you guys off with a list of some things I’ve learned along the way.
- Make sure your relationships/partnerships are strong: You’d better have a strong partnership before you start because you are going to need it. Arguments are going to happen a lot and they are like storms happening to your home. It is not easy and it will tear you apart if you don’t have a strong foundation but at the end of the day the arguments should make you stronger.
- Stick with the budget: Keep on top of the budget and look at the budget everyday. Finding a good deal on a home is only half the battle. It can get you off to a great start but you can still get carried away if you are not checking in on that budget EVERY single day! Every house has a ceiling and I’m not talking about the one above your head. The ceiling I am speaking of is the cap to the amount someone will pay for a home in your neighborhood. Find out the amount you could reasonably charge for your home (your realtor can give you comps of homes in your neighborhood). Then estimate how much you want to make based on how much time it will take you to renovate. Then come up with ways you can pinch here and pinch there. There are a lot of stores where you can get discounted items. Check Sears Outlets, Habitat for Humanity stores, Goodwill, etc. Ask your local realtors who work with property investors who does their cabinets. Get tons of quotes for every job you hire out for. Even though you want to save money not all cheaper quotes are the better ones. I always go with the person who is straightforward, has good reviews, and knows his subject because having to hire another person to fix what the last person didn’t can cost TWICE as much as you budgeted. And if you can do the work yourself for less and still stay on your timeline, then even better!
- Manage your time: Renovating a home, or even a room in a home really is a full commitment job and a lot of people do it while working another full time career. It can be hard to find the time to manage all of it. Using white boards for lists for each room is a great way to organize the to do list for each room. I’ve even written it on the wall (before I painted) to keep me on track. It also helps to make buying lists so that you are not making several trips back & forth to the store. Setting up a calendar and being accountable for the time you have blocked off to work on the renovation. If you have kids, add time to each project to account for being there for them as well. Each job is going to take you longer than you think so account for that. I call it the DIY show delusion – You watched a show and they were renovating a bathroom in what seemed like an hour (because that’s how long the show lasted) and you think,”I can do that and it shouldn’t take that long either!” I swear these shows train your brain into making you think you can do anything in under an hour! In reality it takes weeks… MONTHS, to finish up an entire room especially if you are doing it while juggling a career and kids. Sectioning off jobs from room to room (more about this in #4) with also help you keep things on track.
- Don’t Pat Heads: Do yourself a favor and only work on one room at a time! There is something that happens to your head when you are walking by a bunch of things that need to get done. My father refers to this as “patting heads”. He is right, you can’t just go around fixing one thing here and one thing there and not ever feeling like you FINISHED anything without going a little crazy in the process. Your brain cannot concentrate and you will end up rebelling against the whole thing if you can’t experience that sense of accomplishment you get from finishing something you started. Make lists for each room you are about to start. Finish everything on the list before moving onto the next and you will find yourself more focused. You will feel rewarded with every completion of each room and each task marked off. Living in a renovation is a bad idea. Living in a constant state of construction can deflate you. But if you do it one room at a time you will get through it a lot faster and at least you can escape to the finished rooms to get a break 🙂 .
- Don’t forget to have a life too. You are already juggling a career, kids and a new commitment to renovate. It’s common sense that something’s gotta suffer to make up for the time you are spending renovating. Make sure you let your friends and family know your plans. Make it very clear to them what you can and cannot do for the weeks or months that you will be working on your project. Your friends and family care about you but no one understands how hard it is and what you are going through unless they are doing it with you. It might also be helpful to ask friends for favors (babysitting, painting). People want to see you and spend time with you and the great friends out there will even offer to help you out just to spend some time with you. And if you are separating your projects from room to room then it will be easy for you to catch up with everyone after a big project!
There are many more lessons I have learned but that is the big “firsts” I would tell anyone who was considering the job. I hope this helps you. Please follow my blog, sign up for the newsletter and leave a comment if you have another thing I should add to my list. I would love to hear from you. Happy Renovating!
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