Renovations are a big deal. More intensive than remodeling, renovations are a major change to your original space that usually involve gutting whole rooms, shifting walls to reconfigure the layout, or building entirely new features into a room. Aside from that, they’re incredibly expensive usually requiring some sort of loan or line of credit to be completed. With that much money and change on the table, you’ll want to be sure you’re doing things smartly. After all, what good is an investment like a home renovation if it doesn’t work out in your favor? To avoid any pitfalls or traps, here are a few tips and tricks to keep you on the right path.


While there are whole articles devoted entirely to budgeting, we’re going to give you the highlights. Your budget is your north star that should guide every decision you make along the way. The first thing you want to do is figure out how much you can spend and pay back without sending yourself into financial spiral. After you know what you have at your disposal, it’s time to research contractors, but we’ll get to that later. 

Once you’ve chosen your GC and devised your designs, create a spreadsheet with every single purchase accounted for including emergency funds. Line item budgets keep you from accidentally spending more than you have. A few extra dollars here and there add up over time and before you know it you’ve shot your wad and still have major purchases to make.

When you’re creating your budget don’t forget the small stuff like no access to the kitchen or laundry and how that will affect you. If you won’t be able to cook for a period of time, set aside money for delivery/eating out. Storage units, hotel stays, and the laundromat all cost money. Plan accordingly.

Sourcing Materials

Just go to Home Depot, right? Well, you can. Your contractor is going to handle a lot of the sourcing for your materials, after all it’s their market. A great contractor will know the value (cost vs. return) of everything they bring to you – or vice versa. But that doesn’t mean you have to check out of the process. You can save a lot of money by purchasing lightly used materials, such as doors, cabinets, furniture, etc. Hit up a Habitat for Humanity and you might find the thrift store steal of the century. You can also meander through wholesale warehouses and search for the best deals yourself. 

But one thing you might not think about that’s actually quite crucial, don’t purchase materials until it’s time. You might be in the planning process, wandering through a home improvement store and find a type of tile on sale for very cheap (because it’s being discontinued) and decide to buy it all up then and there. The problem with this method – especially discontinued items – comes when you don’t know exactly how much you’re going to need. If you end up needing more of a material that’s no longer available you now have to find another option, spending twice what you anticipated. Sometimes you get lucky, but it’s just not worth the risk. 

Research And Development

Contractors. Let’s start here. First hand accounts from your friends and neighbors and who they’ve used in the past are your most valuable resource when beginning this process. You may not know Johnny from Timmy online, but your friends you can trust. Visiting former job sites are your next best tool. Finally, once you’ve narrowed it down to your top 3 or 4, set up interviews.

Interviewing your contractor prior to choosing one is vital to the success of your reno. You want someone with knowledge and expertise, yes, but more importantly is how you communicate with one another, especially when it comes to budget. Let’s say you want an open floor plan but you don’t have the budget or structural abilities to make it happen. A great contractor will find a way to make you happy while staying within your budget. When it comes to decision making time, go with your gut. If there’s even the slightest hesitation with one contractor, keep looking until you find the right fit. Finding the right person for the job will make the whole process seem like less of the giant task that it is.

While there’s plenty more minutiae involved with home renovation, tackling these main points will set you on the path to success. There will be surprises along the way, but saving where you can without cutting corners, and having a solid team and an even more solid budget make it much easier to navigate.