Once I moved in – and the bookshelf situation resolved itself – it became obvious that we’d want to do some home renovations. Our house is older, and while it had great features that “sold” it to us, it could definitely have stood for an upgrade.
At first, I was overwhelmed. It was our first home together (our first home, period), so I didn’t know where to start. My internal dialogue went something like this: “Look at all these rooms! Look at all the blue shag carpet! The yellow walls! The pear wallpaper in the kitchen! We’ll never check everything off of our wish list.”
I learned a lot about the home repair and renovation process in the first year – which is why, today, I’m sharing the top four tips to prepare yourself for home repairs and renovations. Later, I’ll post a blog on surviving major home renovations. (When that’s up, I’ll link it here.)
- Start with tasks you and your husband can do together.
Pat and I aren’t super-handy. We can’t fix a leaky faucet, repair a broken light fixture, replace a fan, investigate that weird rattling noise… the list goes on. (Though we have unclogged many-a-drain – shout-out to Drain-o!) The one thing we do know how to do? Paint.
If I’m going to be honest, painting isn’t my cup of tea. I’m naturally clumsy, and two-left-feetedness + buckets of staining goo = no match made in heaven. But I can do it – and doing it yourself will save you money, which remains important to us as newlyweds.
What’s better, having a helper will make the project go much, much, (much, much…) faster. Bonus: you’ll spend some time extra time together. Just take turns playing DJ, and it can actually be sort of fun – well, as fun as painting can be.
- For bigger projects, solicit recommendations from family and friends – but don’t be afraid to go your own way.
The biggest item on our to-do list was our kitchen: it was poorly and inefficiently designed, and closed off to the rest of the house. We wanted to totally demo the space, remove walls, move cabinets around, and upgrade everything.
We knew our limitations: as a couple who couldn’t install a doorbell, we probably couldn’t take this one on ourselves.
So we asked our family and friends for contractor recommendations – people they’d used and had good experience with. We met with nearly all of their recommendations – we had four meets in total. (We’ve heard you’re supposed to get no fewer than three proposals. One of the first people who showed up never sent back a proposal, so we brought in a fourth contender.)
In the end, we selected the company that felt like the best fit for us – the one who put the most thought and effort into the design, who seemed the most “on top of their game.” This was a company we actually found on Angie’s List – not through our personal recommendations — and we couldn’t be happier.
Family and friends couldn’t care less that we hadn’t chosen their recommended contractors – I think they were too excited that our renovated kitchen would soon make us the new holiday-and-party house.
- Take tons of pictures.
Seriously. You’ll want to show family and friends what the house looked like when it was a clean slate, and how you made it your own. I did this in every room – from the bedroom (which we have hardly touched), to the living room (which got a fresh coat of paint), to the kitchen and family room (which have both undergone major renovations – new floors, new walls, the works).
It’s the ultimate party trick: pulling up pictures on your computer of your old space and – ta-da! – looking at how it’s been transformed. Prepare for the “oohs” and “aahs.”
Even if you’re not planning to do major renovations for a while, I highly suggest this step. Your space will probably transform organically, anyway, whether you move pieces of furniture around to ease the flow of a room, get new pieces of furniture, hang art – you’ll want to see how your far you (and your house) has come. Trust me.
- Relax and enjoy the process.
‘Nuff said. This is not something that came easily to me or Pat, but we learned a ton throughout the past year about home repair, and became at least cursorily familiar with where things are situated at our local Lowe’s and Home Depot.
It’s important to remember: you’re making a home for yourselves. It’s going to take time – but it’s a really awesome task when you think about it – isn’t it?
‘Til next week,