Ultimate Home Remodeling & Renovation Guide

Remodeling includes plenty of issues: materials, contractors, planned and unpredictable loans, design choice, search for tools and more. Let’s discuss each of the issues as well as useful tips on home remodeling for dummies.

Before You Start…

  • Plan your daily routine before you start repair works. You need to have a safe and comfortable place to rest, sleep and cook your meals while living in a house under reconstruction.
  • Find where to keep the waste – check out the remodeling companies and discuss how to deal with waste. Organize logistics before you proceed with the reconstruction.
  • Keep air pollution in mind. Make sure you’ll be able to ventilate your home after you use glue, paint or other remodeling materials.
  • Protect your electronic devices and other equipment from dust. If you’re a beginner in remodeling, you have no idea about the amounts of dust you’ll have to deal with.
  • Find out the contacts of as many home remodeling companies and contractors as possible. This way you’ll be able to compare prices and discuss various questions in case if you experience troubles in the order of work. Besides, don’t forget to scout your neighborhood for their experience and remodeling horror stories. Now the last, but not the least…
  • Check out the plans of your contractor if you decide to hire one. Make sure his plans are realistic and he has no other projects in process. The reason is simple: if he has plans for some incredible project to deal with, your budget renovation will be postponed as many times as your contractor needs it and you won’t be able to do anything against it.

Home Remodeling on a Budget

If your remodeling project is successful, it will be rewarding as well. How to estimate costs? Get rid of negative thoughts: it won’t be painful, you won’t lose all your money and your happy family will never be destroyed.

Be realistic about your remodeling plans. Count the maximum number you can spend for it. Now throw in 20% and get an almost precise minimum renovation cost. Generally, basic home remodeling costs include:

  • Painting the walls in the rooms (keep in mind that one coat of paint might not be enough);
  • Renovation of tiling and flooring in the kitchen including countertops (if necessary);
  • Renovation of tiling and plumbing in the bathroom plus possible renewal of vanities and appliances;
  • Renovation of flooring;
  • Installation of energy efficient windows;
  • Refreshing the exterior of your home;
  • Replacing the roof (if necessary);
  • Lighting renovation;
  • Garage renovation.

Let’s discuss the key issues.

Floors

Flooring should not only be stylish, but practical.

  • Choose the color and the pattern first. It should match your furniture and décor unless you decide to remodel the whole room, which is not practical.
  • Think about your everyday lifestyle. If you’re a devoted cook, you may feel uncomfortable standing most part of your day on the tiling. Do you have kids? Then tiling or stone flooring is a must for you if your kids leave large puddles in the bathroom or spill liquids too often. Thick carpets won’t be convenient if you have pets. The bigger your family is, the more wear and tear your flooring will experience.
  • Make calculations. To renovate the flooring, you’ll need to pay not only for the materials but for the delivery and installation (in case if you have no experience). You may also need additional tools and materials

Flooring specs:

Hardwood

That’s a symbol of charm and character of the homeowner. Most common and durable species of hardwood are cherry, maple, and oak. The most sophisticated clients choose mahogany or other non-traditional types of wood. But it’s not a practical choice – low wear resistance is hidden behind the striking appearance. The choice of color and texture is up to you, but experienced installers advice to choose distressed hardwood for a more natural look and a possibility to hide the scratches.

It’s evident that choosing wood for bathroom remodeling is impractical.

Laminate

That’s a chameleon in floor renovation. It can look like anything you fancy: wood, stone, tile… It’s very durable, it’s easily removed and it’s almost completely resistant to stains and moisture. That’s a perfect eco-friendly variant for low-budget home remodeling. Laminate is released in all shapes and textures in a very wide price range.

Remember that laminate needs durable underlayment. It can feel and sound like hardwood if properly designed.

Vinyl

It is long-lasting and it won’t cost you a fortune. It’s soft and standing on it for a long time is comfortable which turns out to be a perfect variant for a devoted cook. It can be matte or glossy of all possible colors and textures as well as laminate. It is released in planks, tiles, and large sheets. Vinyl flooring is perfect for pet owners.

It needs high-quality underlayment as well as laminate. Once properly installed it becomes perfect for homes with active traffic. You won’t be disappointed by dents or scratches.

Linoleum

It’s durable and comes in a variety of colors shapes and textures. Due to its longevity, it has been actively used in the remodeling of hospitals and schools. With a properly installed underlayment, it will last long in a family with active kids and pets. Besides, linoleum is an eco-friendly building material made from the mixture of cork dust, linseed oil, and wood floor.

Cork

The use of cork in home remodeling and design can add real flare and coziness. Cork planks, sheets, and tiles are actively used for flooring as well as for walls in all rooms. Cork flooring can be painted or left naturally looking. One of the best advantages of cork is its insulation qualities. It’s also quite durable (pay attention to the size of the granules – the bigger, the longer your cork flooring will last).

Cork should be sealed with a sealant based on vinyl or wax. It should also be properly cleaned because dirt or sand can leave scratches on its surface. You should also put mats under heavy objects or furniture not to leave hollows in the cork tiles.

Bamboo

It’s naturally beautiful and sturdy. It’s a healthy solution for our planet as bamboo grows a lot faster than trees. The three main color options are blond natural, stained or carbonized (this option is not very durable). Bamboo can be placed horizontally, vertically or stranded. The last option is the most long-lasting.

One of the main advantages of bamboo is that in comparison to hardwood, it can be placed in any room due to its ability to stand water. It shouldn’t be sealed in the process of installation, but it should have a water-resistant underlayment.

Tile

It’s tough and elegant. It can be based on porcelain, ceramics or natural stone. It will be as perfect for the flooring as for the walls. Natural stone is the most expensive option, but it is destined to last forever. Be aware that tiling has water resistance levels. If you live in a cold climate, you’ll have to add an in-floor heating system to keep your feet warm. This may cost you quite a lot because the installation of a heating system demands professionalism.

Walls

Smart redesigning of walls adds space to the smallest rooms and brings light to the darkest corners. In addition to the basic wall paint and wallpapers, you can use such wall design elements as:

  • Flower pots on tine plinths fixed on the walls;
  • Stencils and graphic prints;
  • Combination of two different wallpapers harmonizing in color or pattern to emphasize certain areas of the room;
  • Monochrome prints to spice up boring blank walls;
  • Clusters of mirrors or pictures different in size or shape;
  • Stylish and clever stacking areas with hidden brackets to make long vertical heaps of books fixed on the wall for the wow effect;
  • Colorful tiles to create your personal patterns on the walls;
  • Wall murals and columns;
  • Wall arts (and it won’t cost you much if you get a talented art student);
  • Large shelves from the floor to the ceiling;
  • Framed vintage pictures or maps consisting of sections;
  • Wall panels;
  • Vertical or horizontal ombre.
Hint: Try to think out of the box and use unexpected materials that can be better solutions than regular paint or wallpapers. One of them is using fabric for walls. It can be easily draped with hooks and fixed with a ton of decorating solutions. Besides, it’s a convenient way to hide a back-alley window or a vent.

Now about the porch walls. If the outside walls of your home have signs of insects’ intrusion or leaking cracks, you’d better find a specialist to inspect your walls and suggest you the best renovation solution. If your walls are in good health, but still demand renovation or insignificant reconstruction, follow these steps:

  • Replace the broken wood panels and give them a coat of fresh paint.
  • If you have the brick outside walls, wash them with water, soap, and brush first. Use caulking to fill in the cracks in the bricks and between them.
  • Hide all imperfections and cracks if they don’t look threatening.
  • Prepare the walls before you proceed with the painting. Use a primer – this way the color of the outside walls will last for a longer time.

Countertops

Remodeling of countertops demands creativity. Countertops are produced in all possible textures, colors and out of all possible materials. One of the most frequently chosen materials for the counters is granite. It’s the best choice for those who have no intention to get back to kitchen remodeling too soon. Granite is a symbol of longevity.

Quite a lot of today’s manufacturers produce countertops out of quartz. It’s stylish, sleek, and durable as well.

There’s one cheaper and long-lasting option. It’s concrete. It’s released in a variety of colors and it’s as solid as granite. Quite a lot of homeowners use the crushed glass for the surfaces of their countertops.

Hint: There’s a budget option for those who wish to save some cash on the renovation of countertops. Some of the manufacturers suggest countertops made from leftover granite pieces. Of course, such countertops are not going to be as solid as the whole ones, but they’ll have a cozy look and you’ll be able to design the pattern on your own. Granite countertops constructed out of small pieces properly sealed together is possible even for the beginner.

Plumbing

Remember that your kitchen and bathroom should not only be aesthetically attractive. These areas are destined to be convenient and functional. Plumbing is one of the key issues you should take care of. Your home remodeling ideas and project elements will be built around the plumbing.

If you decide to replace some of your kitchen or bathroom appliances together with the furniture and flooring, you should start with the plumbing layout. Decide where you want your sink, basin, bath, dishwasher or washing machine to be.

The best idea will be to find a professional plumber if you’ve never dealt with the installation before. Here are the reasons why:

  • Improper plumbing layout and non-professional installation may result in a serious damage to your newly renovated home.
  • A professional will install all appliances and switches faster and safer than a beginner with his cut-and-try approach.
  • The area where you live may have certain state laws connected with the permissions to repair or reconstruct the plumbing. It may turn out that its installation is allowed to be performed by certain professionals approved by the local state laws.
Hint: Leave your sinks and bathrooms in the same places where they are now. This way you won’t have to waste a fortune on extra pipes, switches, and other plumbing elements. Besides, if you try to reconstruct the plumbing in a flat or in a semi-detached house, you have a chance to ruin the stable functionality of plumbing in the whole building.

Lighting

There’s a ton of low-voltage lighting elements. The initial installation of such lighting sources may be a bit pricey, but you’ll feel the significant difference when you start saving considerable sums of money on your electricity bills. Economy and decorative LED lamps are a must for a sensible remodeling.

Don’t forget about recessed lights. You can install them literally anywhere. It’s a great way to light every single dark corner of your home and save on electricity as well.

Windows

Replacement of windows and doors should better be trusted to professional home remodeling companies. Otherwise, your lack of experience will cost you double value. Renewal or replacement of windows is necessary if:

  • You want to make your home energy efficient and save on heating and electricity;
  • Your present windows cannot resist temperature changes resulting in overheating in certain spots of your home or condensation;
  • Some of the windows are simply broken;
  • It’s important to make your home look attractive (especially if you’re putting it on the market).

Before you pass on to picking new windows, look through our tips.

  • Estimate how much you have to renovate. If the frames of your present windows are still in a satisfactory condition, there may be no need for full replacement – you can replace the units and add fresh paint to the frame. Rotten frames should be fully replaced.
  • Choose the type of windows you want to install. Main window types:
  • Double-hung (with two panels sliding vertically in the frame);
  • Single-hung (with only bottom panel moving);
  • Casement (operated by a crank mechanism opening the frames outward to the right or to the left);
  • Awning (have hinges allowing top or bottom areas to open for airing);
  • Picture (large windows giving maximum daylight to the room);
  • Transom (narrow windows used as top elements for windows and doors that can be operating or non-operating);
  • Slider (with at least one of the panels sliding horizontally);
  • Stationary (non-operating windows that can be produced in any shape the client wishes);
  • Bay/ Bow (large protruding windows that literally widen the space of the room).
  • Choose the material for the frames. Wood is a pricey option. Less expensive materials for window replacement are vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum.
Hint #1: Try to get to know as much about the materials and installation of windows as possible. Trust us, it will help you economize so much you will be surprised. Contact the manufacturers, visit stores, inspect everything yourself.
Hint #2: Buy windows and hardware for the windows in off-season time. Do it in winter or at least in late autumn – this way you’ll be able to save quite much on home remodeling and repair.
Hint #3: Use frosted glass for windows of the rooms where you plan to be naked often.

Doors

Measure the doors thoroughly for better results. Be precise about the thickness, width, and height of doors. You may probably want to make them wider or taller and even add windows on the sides of your front door. Anyway, you’ll need to reconstruct the frame.

Be more practical about it and use wooden frames to be able to alter them in the future. Brick or stucco frames may become potentially troublesome in the future if you decide to renovate your entrance one more time.

Be specific about the materials you use for the renewal. You’ll have to think about proper maintenance. For example, if you decide to use a painted wooden door, you’ll have to repaint it regularly to protect from deterioration and to get rid of scratches and stains.

If you’re not fond of regular maintenance, try using more practical materials, like fiberglass. Its main advantage is that it can look like real wood. Besides, you won’t have difficulties in maintenance. You can also use steel that can be painted or decorated with panels looking like real wood.

If you still want to use wooden doors, don’t forget about the direction of sunlight if you don’t want your doors to fade or crack.

Hint: Don’t forget to specify the position of the door handle if you’re left-handed.

Roofing

The complete roofing renewal should be trusted to professionals. However, there are certain things you can do on your own. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t try to get rid of leaks in the roof in bad weather, because climbing on the roof for a quick fix is senseless. Getting rid of the leak demands quite a lot of time and dry weather. Safety first.
  • Use shoes with rubber soles to climb. Don’t forget about a harness and a helping hand.
  • To find leaks use a garden hose in sunny weather. Spray the roof in different locations and follow the flow to locate the damaged roofing area.
  • Check the ventilation to get rid of dry rot. Hoot and pipe vents are important for proper ventilation and temperature control. This way your roofing will not deteriorate.

Protect Your Property

  • Use cling-film to protect the furniture and carpets from dirt, dust, and stains of paint;
  • Isolate certain areas with zip walls;
  • Use paper solutions to protect the new tiling and flooring if you’re still in the process of renovation;
  • Get shoe covers to protect the floor and your feet from paint and dirt;
  • Invest into a staircase runner to be able to walk between the floors without ruining the look of the stairs;
  • Prepare sticky mats and paper tape to be able to fix things on the go.

Questions & Answers

Where to start home remodeling?

If you’re a newcomer in remodeling, you need to start with a to-do list. We’ve already discussed the most vital renovation issues and it’s up to you to decide what you need to update the look of your home. Focus on your home environment and start with the projects that really worth the money invested. Don’t waste your time on a dream kitchen or adding one more bathroom or balcony – add more value to your home by improving what you already have.

Remember, that best remodeling projects on a budget consist of replacing of worn out elements instead of adding new ones. Any experienced real estate agent proves that updated kitchens significantly add to the value of the house at the time of resale. Concentrate on the remodeling within the walls of your home: change the usual windows for large French doors to visually expand the area and make it more practical. Convert your attic into one more bedroom. Replace the front and back doors. Invest, but don’t enlarge.

Renovations that give the most return:

  • 96.6% – Replacement of the front door
  • 87.4% – Addition or renewal of deck
  • 84.3% – Modification of the attic into one more bedroom
  • 83.7% – A new garage door
  • 82.7% – Kitchen remodeling

Renovations that give the smallest return:

  • 48.9% – Study renovation
  • 51.7% – Building a sunroom
  • 60.1% – One more bathroom
How to learn home remodeling?

Everything is difficult before it becomes simple, right? The only way to learn the remodeling on your own is to follow the basic advice of more experienced users. Here are some things you really need to learn about remodeling home on your own:

  • Create a checklist. It should be completely transparent including all prices and risks. The best thing will be to hire a professional designer who will be able to estimate minimum cost of the remodeling. A designer is not a company and he will not impose his ideas on you to get more of your money for nothing. He will do his job and leave you with a sensible plan. Use it wisely and don’t try to beat new goals in the process.
  • Don’t forget about official council approval before you proceed with home renovation. The structural changes of your home may be illegal in your area.
  • Purchase tools and materials beforehand. Make a list of things you need and buy everything at once. This way your remodeling order of work will not be ruined and you won’t have to delay anything because of the lack of the materials.
  • Inner renovations are generally done from the top part of the room to its bottom. Ceiling – walls – floors. Do all the painting before you pass on to the flooring not to spoil your new hardwood or tiling.

One important thing you need to learn is that home remodeling always costs more than you can actually think. Always add at least 20% to your expectations and you’ll get your minimum remodeling cost.

How much does home remodeling cost?

There’s no exact answer to this question because it depends on your needs. A full-scale kitchen renovation may cost you up to $60,000 and you’ll have to continue paying back the loans for many years ahead if you don’t count every single renovation element on paper. Your investment calculations can quickly balloon up to incredible numbers if you don’t plan everything beforehand. The best way to save money on the renovation is to be patient – don’t try to do everything at once.

Hint: Use home warranty to protect the remodeling process from unexpected fails. If you have older appliances that you’re not willing to replace and if you’re willing to save more on renovation – contact the home warranty agents.
When is the best time to remodel a home?

Home remodeling shows and magazines never stop to make us feel there’s always something you desperately need to redesign. However, you should remember that everything depends on your personal vision. The place you live in should be fitting to your needs. Don’t be in a hurry for trends – start with convenience. Make a plan, decide whether it will be a quick fix or a serious renovation, count your budget and remodel your home following a strict plan.

When you’re willing to renovate your home before selling it, make sure it won’t be in vain. A new homeowner may probably be not as enthusiastic about it as you are. Consider a quick update to make the place look appealing. Complete renovation can be excessive.

How to stay married during the home renovation?

To stay sane in the period of full-scale renovation, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Never stay hungry while remodeling your home;
  • Find pleasant music to add a bit of fun to the situation;
  • Discuss all your renovation order of work before you proceed with it together.

Remember, you shouldn’t fight with each other, you should fight with your home remodeling together!

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