Renovation Essentials: What You Need to Know

Renovation Essentials: What You Need to Know
  • Opening Intro -

    You're shopping for a home, a fixer upper, looking for a bargain that you can transform from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. The process is a long one, requiring much patience and knowledge about the project at hand.


It can also be a costly endeavor, one that takes an emotional as well as a financial toll on everyone involved. Take the following renovation essentials into consideration before undertaking your next project.

1. Examine the foundation. Before buying any home, have the foundation checked. Home foundation problems can lead to expensive repairs, ruining your budget in no time. Among the signs of foundation problems are cracks that appear in walls, windows that won’t open or close, a jammed door, and cracks in tile laid over a concrete floor.

2. Know the condition of the windows and doors. In old homes, the windows and doors are most likely not sufficiently insulated. Expect to pay about $200 per window and from $500 per door to meet current ENERGY STAR standards. You’ll pay much more for a renovation if you change any window’s size or door placement.

3. Add in or replace insulation. Expect that all walls and ceilings do not have adequate insulation. In old homes, internal walls typically have no insulation. Fortunately, the cost is low and the benefits include better heat management and sound reduction.

4. Overhaul the kitchen. Your old house was built with contemporary living means in mind. When it came to the kitchen, simple was the rule of the day. Today, no kitchen is complete without a two-piece sink, a stone or butcher block counter top, and a sufficient number of cabinets. Even if the cabinet count is precise, the facings may need replacement. A basic kitchen upgrade including flooring, counter tops, a sink and cabinet faces will cost you at least $5,000. Expect to pay many times that amount for better materials and more extensive work that requires new lights and appliances.

5. Stay with the plumbing. Your existing plumbing can cost you dearly if you make changes that require much modification. Ripping out walls, running new lines, and changing the footprint of a bathroom can be a costly expense. If you need a new bathroom, align it with the current one to hold down your costs. Side by side bathrooms are easiest. Bathrooms located above and below each other are less costly than one built on the other side of the home where plumbing is lacking. For existing bathrooms, investing in a new toilet is almost always wise as you’ll enjoy tremendous water savings. Include water saving shower heads as well.

6. Consider the electricity. The home’s electrical panel may have been sufficient way back when, but it hardly does the job today. There is much to consider here — seek the advice of an electrician as you move forward with this project. A number of components may have to be replaced including the circuit breakers. You should have a main breaker panel to shut off power to the entire house and the amps increased from 60 to the current 200 standard to accommodate today’s electrical needs. The wiring must be rated to handle the higher amps; if not a full home rewiring is in order.

7. The little things add up. Unless you’re making major structural changes to the house, what we have looked at so far here will cover most of your major expenses outside of the roof, gutters, and the home’s exterior. A number of small projects, however, can add up and skew your budget. These include: new light fixtures, faucets, window and door hardware, flooring, and paint. Factor in these costs as part of your renovation essentials.

Renovation Considerations

Talk with your mortgage provider about including at least some of the renovation expenses with your home loan. If this job is a “flip” then time is of the essence. You’ll want to complete your work to hold down your other costs including utility bills, property taxes, security, and home maintenance.

See AlsoHow to Survive a Home Renovation Project



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Categories: Home Interior

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".