It can be difficult to start a life of your own – building a family and creating the perfect home for yourself and those dearest to you is a process that takes plenty of time, devotion and patience. Even those of us that have managed to find our little spot under the sun still need to put in the work to make sure that everything keeps working smoothly, be it our career, family life or our household. While it is important to have a living environment that helps you feel relaxed, safe and satisfied, not everyone can afford to build their dream house from the ground up.
This is why we need all the help that we can get when it comes to finding creative, yet cost-effective ways of turning a piece of property into a warm and beautiful home. In the following paragraphs, we’ll be looking at some of the most important things that you should consider if you want your renovation project to be straightforward, hassle-free and budget-friendly.
Look at the big picture when deciding what to invest in
The first step towards effective home improvement is planning. However, just because it is the first and most basic step, doesn’t mean it is going to be easy. You have to look at a number of variables before you can decide on the right course of action. What areas of the house are in dire need of maintenance? How much do all the different projects cost? Are the changes you are planning purely cosmetic, or do they have a strong functional component? Will your improvements hold up for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years? These are all important questions that need to be answered.
If we are talking about a family home, you’ll want to make sure that the changes you make will last for a generation, at least, and that the colours, style and materials used will age gracefully and be considered elegantly retro in a couple of decades. On the other hand, if you are merely interested in flipping a house, or think that you may want to do so a few years down the line, you’ll want to go for a more contemporary style. In the latter case, you will also be looking at the options that provide the highest return on investment in a fairly short amount of time.
All in all, it’s important to think about the future and your end goals. They say that you should spend double or triple the amount of time planning as you do actually building.
Which renovations have the greatest return on investment?
Even if you are a homeowner who plans to live in the house indefinitely, it’s still nice to know that all the money and effort that you’ve invested actually helped increase your property value. If you are looking to sell, then you will definitely only consider options with a high ROI. So, which projects are your safest bet? Well, in recent years it was small scale projects like installing a metal front door, minor kitchen remodelling and attic bedroom conversions. Replacing old windows with modern ones is also high up on the list, as well as bathroom remodelling and siding replacement.
Hiring tradesmen for any of these projects can be a simple affair – online platforms like GradedTradesmen make it easy for professionals to sign up and start looking for clients, and it gives homeowners access to a large number of tradesmen. It’s fairly easy to look at a few reviews and asses someone’s work history, which makes it a lot easier to weed out the bad seeds.
The best thing about these smaller projects is that they don’t cost a lot to begin with, and they offer the best ROI, even when compared to large-scale kitchen and living room remodels, which have fallen out of favour during the recession and haven’t yet made a comeback.
DIY vs. hiring a pro
Given that small and reasonably priced projects can help significantly increase the value of your home, people often start considering DIY as an option for some of the simpler things. However, while doing it yourself definitely helps you reduce costs even further, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, so it’s not recommended for people who lack any previous hands-on remodelling experience. Not only do you risk making a mess, which will lower the value of your house and make you waste more money on fixing the problem, but you can also get hurt if you don’t know what you are doing, e.g. by drilling straight into an electrical line.
Some of these jobs are a bit more complex and require a broad range of skill sets, so unless you are quite the handyman or handywoman, its best find a reliable tradesmen to handle the renovations for you. You want someone who is good and what they do and reliable, yet still affordable, but beware of hacks. If an option sounds too good to be true at first, then it probably is. There are a lot of underqualified workers out there who do a poor job, and try to con you out of more money at every step on top of it. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s important to do thorough online research before choosing someone. Which brings us neatly to our next point.
What to look for in a truly professional tradesman
Most people are impatient – they just want to see their plans come to life as soon as possible. It’s perfectly normal to be anxious to get the dirty work over, so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labour, but it pays to be careful. You will be able to find a truly devoted tradesman, one who enjoys what he does and takes pride in a job well done, based on a few important things.
They will have a website or be a member of a website, with plenty of customer reviews, most of them positive. A legitimate professional won’t give you vague quotes until they have made an assessment, and when it comes time to meet them, they will be punctual, polite and dressed in tidy professional uniforms.
You won’t have to bargain too much or have the cost of the service constantly bumped up, because the contractors will contact you throughout the process and ask for your feedback. They will be upfront with you about the costs and time needed, use modern equipment and high quality materials and will pay attention to even the smallest detail.
Someone who is serious about what he does treats his clients with respect, and this really shows even during your initial interaction. You should definitely trust your instincts on this one, and try to gauge the tradesmen as a person as well as a worker. Legitimate professionals will be happy to give you their business number and provide other relevant information that you may need. If they do a good job, be sure to leave them a good review.
Common mistakes you should avoid
There are plenty of tasks involved in even the smaller remodelling projects, some of which you can do by yourself, either in preparation for the pros or after all the work has been done. You have to move the furniture around, cover surfaces with plastic sheets, clear out all the decoration and easily breakable items and a variety of other little things. Some of the common mistakes that make the job more difficult or end up costing you more money and nerves in the long run include:
Taking on too much work all on your own
Trying to spend as little as possible on tools, materials and services
Failing to effectively communicate your ideas to the contractors
Focusing on flavour of the month style trends that become outdated fast
Buying furniture and appliances that are too big or small for the room
Going for aesthetics over practicality
Some of these may seem like fairly obvious points, but it’s not until you’ve already started the project and gotten lost in all the little details that you start to realize just how easy it can be rush things or blow your budget. This is why you should be patient and take time to ensure that everything is going to run smoothly.
With a little bit of strategic thinking and research anyone can pull off a small-scale home improvement project, or even several small projects. If you focus on remodelling parts of the home that will increase your property value the most, choose your tradesmen carefully, and try not to cut too many corners, you will spice up your home without going over budget or losing your nerves.