- Don’t over improve
- Set a budget
- Consider the homes in your neighborhood
- Choose a timeless design
- Set a timeline
Where I Learned These Valuable Tips 💡
First, I’ll give you a little backstory on where I learned these remodeling tips. Ryan and I married and lived in a small apartment in Dallas for a short while, until an opportunity arose for us to purchase a “fixer upper” in Sulphur Springs. As a young couple just starting out, this was a big deal for us! We could purchase this house, put a little money into it and “flip” it, just like we saw on all those HGTV shows! It would be so fun and easy! 😉
Oh, I wish we knew then what we know now. But I guess that’s how life works right? Live, learn and pass on the knowledge. And hopefully don’t make the same mistakes twice. I’m not saying we know all there is about renovation, but we have learned a thing or two; mostly of what NOT to do! Read on to find out what I mean. You will probably get a good laugh in and hopefully gain some knowledge. There’s so much to know about the right way to do a remodel, but here are my top 5 tips for remodeling.
So, let’s start with number one; don’t over improve!!!
Tip #1 – Don’t Over Improve 🔨
We took one look at this house and thought every single bit of it must come out! This wall, that wall, gut the kitchen, gut the bathroom, tear out this disgusting floor! ALL of it! Demo, demo, demo. Until all that was left were some walls and the slab. Well guess what happens when you have a house that has nothing inside of it? You replace everything! 😱 From the kitchen cabinets to the toilets. It all had to, surprisingly, be put back. We could have honestly touched every room in that house to update it, without completely gutting the place. I do stand by the open concept though! I mean, we did do something right! 🤔
Look at the big picture before deciding what needs to be redone and what can stay. It’s highly possible that you can refinish the tub or paint the kitchen cabinets. You’d be surprised what a difference a coat of paint and new hardware can make. If the home does need a complete gut job, purchase it at a price that reflects that. Otherwise, work within a budget and check off the most important spaces first. Especially if you plan to sell after renovating. Look from a buyer’s perspective and put money in the areas that will give you a return. Here’s a great article on some quick and cost-effective ways to spruce things up.
That takes us into the next tip – set a budget!
Tip #2 – Set A Budget 💲
Your budget will depend on your plan for the home and the renovation. Are you buying it as an investment and plan to sell quickly? Then you need to have a good profit margin. If you are buying the home to live in and make the repairs and updates to your liking, then you can think of the return in the long run. You will always build equity in a home, if you make a smart buy. Real estate is the best long-term investment you can make. If you would at least “break even” in the current market, equity will build on that in the years to come.
Now, don’t just pull this number out of thin air, like we did. Really take the numbers seriously and do your best to stick to it. A great buyer, with a great agent 😉, can determine how much work needs to be done. Then they can guide you on the best price to offer for the property. Make sure there is room for some profit. After all, this is an investment; be smart about it. Your budget for the renovations should be based on your purchase price and what the home could sell for in the market you plan to sell.
The potential sales price also depends on the finishes you will use, so it’s important to have all of this planned in the budget. Extra tip that I wish someone would have told us; plan for unseen issues. When you begin removing walls or flooring, things can come up that you didn’t account for. Have this in mind and set aside some “emergency funds” in the budget. We unfortunately didn’t do this and uncovered some major problems that cost us more in the end.
Going back to choosing finishes takes me into my next tip – take the homes in your neighborhood into consideration.
Tip #3 – Consider the Homes in Your Neighborhood 🏠
This is very important. You can easily over improve in this way as well. Being a step above the competition is great, but this is where design can help on a budget. We chose granite countertops for the kitchen. Back then granite was just becoming popular and therefore it was expensive. It made a great selling feature but hurt our budget and bottom line. If you’re selling million-dollar properties, by all means, go with expensive stone countertops and tile, custom cabinets, hardwood floors, spa tubs, etc. Give the buyer what they’re paying for. But don’t expect a mid-priced homebuyer to pay you $30,000 more than the house next door because you added these features. 🙅♀️
Like I said, stand out with your design. You can find some of my favorite designers here. Smart design can make a home feel like it’s worth a million bucks and blow your competition out of the water! Choose a timeless design, which is tip number four.
Tip #4 – Choose A Timeless Design ✨
Timeless: not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion. We did not know this definition then! 😉 Faux finished walls were on trend, and we decided it was a good idea to do the ENTIRE house that way. For those of you that don’t know what a “faux finish” is; it is a way to make a wall, or whatever you are refinishing, to look something like leather or suede or some other lovely finish. I’m sure it could have been nice as an ACCENT wall, but we decided it was a good idea to do EVERY wall this way. We went with the “leather” look. 😬 The process to do this was costly, time consuming and in the end a very personal preference. Do you know how much money we wasted on texture, paint and stain? Ugh! I could cry thinking about it.
Anyway, it’s best to not be so bold on an investment property. Neutral colors and simple choices can save on both renovation costs and time on the market. Buyers are looking to make the space their own. If you give them a neutral palette, it’s easier for them to envision themselves living in the home. Think light, bright and airy!
Finally, my last tip is to set a timeline for your renovation!
Tip #5 – Set a Timeline 🗓
Just like your budget, stick to it! Well as much as you can anyway. Nothing ever goes as planned in any remodel but push to get it done on time. It will cost you money in the long run if you don’t. Like the old saying goes; time is money. We made this mistake too, as you could have probably guessed. Actually, we couldn’t have even finished on time if we wanted to because we ran out of money! I mean really, how many things can you do completely wrong?! 😩 (Tip number 2 is extra important). Obviously if you plan to stay in the home, your timeline can be based on what needs to be done first. If you are going to “flip” the property, then you want to consider what your holding costs are. They can be real profit killers. Also, know the market you want to sell in. For instance, right now in 2021 the market is still going strong and running hot. Getting your property on the market quickly is your best bet!
Value In Lessons Learned 👍
My hope is that you can take this and learn from our embarrassing mistakes. I know I have. I wouldn’t have changed anything we did though because we gained a lot of wisdom. I’m a firm believer in the value of lessons learned. And if this helps you in any way, then you’ve shared in the value of the lesson as well. As an agent, I can’t help but tell you, that I’d love to help you to purchase your first, or thirtieth, investment property. It’s fun and exciting to take something old and beat up and turn it into something fresh and new! Even if it’s something you want to call home. You get to give it your touch and make it your own. Remodeling is tough and can be frustrating, but it is also rewarding. I dare you to give it a try. Let me know if and when you do. I’d love to come check out your work! Good luck! And remember, budget, time and design are the most important aspects to getting a return on your money! 🤑
Thanks for reading! Tell me; have you had any remodeling disasters that you’ve learned from? Please share in the comments below…