What are my reno goals?
You’ve had it with your kitchen that has you imagining Alice presenting a roast to Mrs. Brady. But what are your actual needs? Do you want to bust open your walls because you are in a moment of design ennui or does your space lack purposeful function? Write a list of needs—more effective cooking space; loads and loads of closet space, for example. Then prioritize. Bonus: Are the goals attainable in real life? Taking walls down takes a lot more than TV magic—wiring may need to be rerouted, pipes may need to be moved, and pricey support beams may be necessary so your house literally won’t fall in on itself. Which brings us to Q two.
How much can I realistically afford?
Whether you are tapping into your home’s equity or using savings to spruce up your space, you need to be clear about your budget. Draft one that includes a baseline as well as an absolute ceiling. Repeat after us: Overages seriously add up. Sure, the brushed brass facets are so now, but are they so you? Make sure you draft a budget with your contractor and stick with it. Research finishes, style options, and other materials ahead of contracting so you can avoid those extra charges. Maintain a contingency fund of 15 percent of the total project or unforeseen costs—deleading, we’re looking at you. While hammering out the numbers, don’t forget to explore federal tax credit programs and FHA initiatives. Check out the 11 home improvement projects you can do yourself without hiring a professional.
Do I need permission?
Your house. Your rules. Well… If you own a condo or are a member of a homeowners’ association, it’s likely there are work-hour ordinances and some design restrictions. Get the rules in writing from your board or HOA. Such regulations may impact your budget and schedule. Similarly, independent homeowners may find there are limits on square footage expansion. “If you’re thinking of bumping out a wall to make more room for, say, your kitchen, make sure you understand your town’s zoning laws first,” says interior designer Lorri Dyner. “Many homes are already at capacity for their lot size and owners are surprised to find they can’t increase the square footage,” she adds.