It's no secret that fixing up fixer uppers is the THING right now. Ten years ago when we started fixing up our house everyone we knew thought we were nuts. I can't say that I blame them. When we bought this house, it was right within our budget and we had a teensy bit of money left over to update a few things up front. It only took ten more years for us to get it exactly where we wanted it to be. Just in time to sell it!
We are by no means experts on the subject BUT there are a few things I wish we would have know before beginning our renovations. I'm sharing them with y'all just in case some of you are in the thrown of a reno or maybe you're about to get one started.
I'll include some of my favorite before and afters from our house so you can see that even though I'll share the not so glam part of renovating, in the end, it was totally worth it!
When hiring contractors, get everything in writing. I mean EVERYTHING. If your contractor doesn't offer a contract (irony), you draw one up to protect yourself. We hired a guy that came highly recommended by multiple people we knew and he ended up being a nightmare to work with. He over promised and way under delivered. He was disrespectful, unprofessional, and did a poor job on just about anything his team touched. At one point, he ended up telling us his team messed up on our stairs so he was only going to charge us for materials, which we appreciated. At the end of the project, he pretty much changed his mind and said he wanted us to pay for the stairs even though they were unable to repair what they messed up. We ended up having text message threads, emails, and witnesses to protect us from his sketching out. But if we hadn't had that, we could have ended up with a botched job and an empty pocket book. I don't care if it's your best friend doing the job, get every single thing in writing.
Plan to go over budget. When starting a renovation, just know that it's not a matter of IF you'll go over budget, but by how much. Most contractors will say that they typically go over by about 30% of what they quote, which is NUTS. So my advice is to take the amount you can afford, reduce it by 30%, and then let that be your actual budget for the work. Then as it goes over (because it will!), you are less likely to lose your every loving mind.
Know that it's NOTHING like fixer upper. My dear friend Natalie owns her own renovation company, Design, Build, Sell, laughs a (and cries a little) when she says that shows like Fixer Upper have ruined the renovation industry because of the way they make the whole process look, clean, easy, and over in an hour with ZERO hickups. That's just so far from reality. Everything you see on that show is polished in post production so if you're going into a renovation thinking it'll feel like Chip and Jo show up and make everything all sunshine and rainbows, you're gonna be frustrated the whole time.
COMMUNICATE. I can't stress this one enough. Communicate your expectations from the beginning. Communicate your gratitude throughout the process. Communicate your experience with people you know. Word of mouth is pretty huge in this industry. Also! Be sure that you're taking good care of the people working on your house. Talk to them, get to know them. Let them know you're thankful for them working on your home. Yes, they're being paid BUT happy workers are better workers.
Remember, to make it FUN. Yes, renovations can be stressful. But honestly they can be really fun, too! Expectations clearly communicated and understood by a trustworthy team of hard working people is awesome. Try to make that happen and you'll not only end up with a beautiful renovation, you'll also end up enjoying the process!
Now for some before and after photos!
Here's a photo of our den before. I used a sheet of paper and a pencil to sketch out an idea of how to update this space for my dad and he made it happen. Worth noting that he'd never built anything like this before. He's amazing!
Our kitchen was WEIRD when we first moved in. Aside from being super dated, it was also not functional at all. You had to open the refrigerator door in order to unload the dishwasher. You also had to have your back to everything when standing at the sink, which I didn't love. We changed the layout and added a counter height bar, which we used a TON.
Funny Story: we used a friend of my grandfathers to order and install our kitchen cabinets. He accidentally ordered the wrong color and when I showed up the day they installed, they had put in PEARL cabinets. They were like a hideous salmon color with a lovely sheen. It was SO bad. We had them painted immediately.
When we moved in, our guest bathroom had a white marble counter top so we thought (ten years ago) that this granite was so warm and inviting. Turns out, brown isn't really my thing so a few years ago, my dad helped us renovate this space into something bright and airy.
Reno Reality: To save money, I tore out this stick on "tile" and underneath was another glue down laminate floor. It was a nightmare to tear out! I also ended up taking this glue on mirror out and almost killed myself (literally) in the process. Why anyone would ever glue a mirror to a wall is beyond me.
Our master was a huge undertaking because we ended up taking down a wall and expanding, then adding more space to the closet. The transformation was incredible though!