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Planning a home renovation project can be very exciting. It can also be very costly and nerve-wracking.

Before starting your renovation, be sure to do your homework and get a clear picture of what you want in the end.  You want your outcome to match your expectations, but you also want to achieve this without losing your sanity (or wallet).  The below suggestions will help you get through any renovation that comes your way.  Being prepared and having the right mind-set will help you get through it easier, within budget (hopefully), and help keep your stress level in check.

Before we begin the outline of what to expect and how to prepare for this next adventure, know that having a positive attitude, focus, patience and flexibility (or at least three out of those four) will help prepare you for the chaos that is about to ensue.

Determine your budget ahead of time.  Figure out how much money you are willing to put into your renovation, and be sure to account for overages.  You might run into situations where you decide you want to upgrade materials, you might run into construction delays or find additional labor is required to finish your job.  If this happens, you will find your final price increasing.  If you started out the project on a tight budget, you might find your project coming to a halt or having to settle on less than you hoped for.

Discuss, in depth, room for changes with your partner.  You need to be on the same page as to what you can change or upgrade along the way.  If you carefully discussed and planned your budget as indicated above, make sure you are in agreement where there might be some room for flexibility.

Do what you can ahead of time.  Research and price the appliances, furniture and fixtures.  Purchase what you can before the construction begins as long as it does not need to be ordered directly by the contractor.  Ordering ahead of time will allow for delays due to backorders or out of stock items.

Choose your contractor carefully.  On top of getting estimates and working out availability, ask who exactly will be doing the bulk of the work and find out about his work crew, as they will likely be there more than the business owner will.   Do some research and look for referrals.  Try to determine if their jobs are normally completed within the expected time frame and within budget.

If your budget allows, and depending on how large of a job your renovation is, consider temporarily moving out of your house during the construction.  Perhaps you can stay with relatives or in a hotel.  If you are completely gutting your home, it might be worth looking into having a trailer put on your property to stay in.  This will allow you to have a bit of peace and still go about your everyday routine while still being close to keep an eye on the progress of your project.  This would also be a safety measure, especially if you have children or animals.

If staying elsewhere is not a viable option, there are ways to work around the construction as best as possible, but be prepared for a bit of chaos, a lot of noise, interruptions, clutter and dust.  A lot of dust.

If you are planning to renovate more than one room, choose to do just one at a time.  If your plan is to do the kitchen and bathroom, choose one as the priority and start the other when the first is complete.  You do not want to be without running water or a sink by taking them both out of commission at once.  If you are doing bedrooms and your living room, be sure to keep one or the other open to have a makeshift “living space” to relax and watch tv without being in the way.

The dust is inevitable.  Depending on the renovation, there may be sawdust, drywall dust and paint dust.

You can cut down on the dust by:

  • Block off the rooms being renovated with large heavy plastic sheets to prevent the dust from travelling.
  • Use fans to blow dust out of the windows.
  • Close your windows if it is a windy day!
  • Place damp towels outside of the construction zone. This way dirt and dust from shoes will stick to the towels and not be spread to the rest of the floors.

Of course, many renovation projects start on time and finish on time— and on budget.  But regardless of what your project is and what it throws at you, remember to prepare yourself as best you can, be flexible, and try to roll with the punches.  Otherwise, you will find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out over things that you likely have no control over.