Home Renovations: A Short Guide For Less Stress


The home we currently live in has gone through three renovations. We just wrapped up the third, and the second largest in the house at 1,700 sq. foot. While the house looks great, there were a lot of bumps along the way. Renovating a home is not like an HGTV design show where a crew comes in to knock down a wall or two, paint goes up, you have fun with all of the finishes, and you come in under budget. It is a long, messy, stressful project that can get away from you if you let it.

Get At Least 3 Bids Before Choosing a Contractor

It is important to get more than one bid so that you can compare what you are going to be paying for with your budget. One company might only do labor and the cost of materials is another separate cost to you. One company might take care of labor and materials in one lump sum. Getting a few bids allows you to pick and chose what is best for your project. Remember: The cheapest is not always the best choice. The old adage “you get what you pay” for is definitely true in this instance.

Hire a LICENSED Contractor

Once you select a contractor, check online to make sure the company or person you have selected is licensed in your state. There are very particular standards that a contractor must meet in order to be licensed. If they are not, you (and even the contractor), are taking on a huge risk. Most homeowner policies do not cover work performed by unlicensed contractors and it could void your policy if you have to make a claim on the work. Not to mention, the unlicensed contractor can be fined and not allowed to obtain a contractor’s license in that state in the future. Don’t take that risk.

Add 20% to Your Budget. And Another 10% to That

Now comes the fun part: the money. Always always always free up more money than you think you will need because there will always always always be an issue with something that wasn’t forecasted. Plumbing and electrical are the most common. You never know what is lurking behind the walls until you take them down. Also, once you start moving walls around, it’s possible that you want to add something else to the scope that you didn’t anticipate. In our case, we added more tile work to the bathroom, beams in the living room, and changed the layout of the master bath. Reworking usually means more money, so be prepared.

Decide Where You Want Your Money Allocated

In our most recent renovation, we knew that we wanted to put a good chunk of the budget towards custom cabinets and exposed beams. The one before that, flooring and countertops were our big-ticket items. Decide on your must-haves vs. what you can be flexible with. Come up with a set price per sq. foot so there is no sticker shock and you are able to get the main things you want in your home. Those brass faucets that you have been eyeing might cost more than you think. Price everything out before finalizing your budget. You will be surprised at how expensive your taste can be.

Pinterest For Suggestions Only- Be Flexible

Pinterest is where you can find thousands of photos of inspiration for your reno. But that’s exactly what it should be used for: inspiration. Find a few photos that fit the style that you are going for but leave the door open to suggestions. Your home is not going to be exactly like the photos that you see. It could turn out better! Don’t get hung up on how your room is not looking exactly like your Living Room Board. Pinterest is a great place to source lighting, hardware, furniture, etc., but make sure you leave room for personal tastes.

Go Bold With Your Design

Step out of your comfort zone. White cabinets, while beautiful (I have them, too!), can be mundane. Why not pick another color? For me, it was our laundry room. Neutral is always a good choice, but it’s paint! Play around with something different. Navy is good. Gray is super popular. So I picked green. It’s just enough pop of color to change the entire vibe of the room. Even black would be a fun choice in a room that gets a lot of natural sunlight. Add wood or a different tile that you don’t see often. Playing around with colors and textures is fun and is a great way to add visual appeal to a room.

It Can Be Fixed

There are going to be secrets in your walls. That is the way it works. Designs will have to change and options will have to be explored. Your plumbing might need an update. Your AC ducts have to be moved to better cool your home. Electrical might be a pricey issue. There are always fixes for these. Nothing (with the exception of your house falling over) is impossible. There are professionals who can address your issues and get them corrected. Just make sure that when calling in someone to fix something important that you are getting someone who specializes in that line of work. Your contractor might be able to see an issue, but most need a licensed professional to get it corrected properly.

Keep That Final Draw In Your Back Pocket

Now for the fun part: when it’s all over. Usually, a construction contract will include a draw schedule for payments to your contractor. That last one? That’s the one that counts the most. That final payment is what concludes the renovation. Once that payment is made, all future work ceases. That payment tells your contractor that you are 100% good with work performed and they are free to go. If you find something after the fact, the chances of them coming back to correct their work is very slim. Make sure that before that payment is made that all contract obligations are met and that the work meets your standards. If not, hold that final draw until the work is done to your satisfaction.

Renovations are stressful and can be expensive but in the end it’s (usually) worth the headache. There is nothing like watching your home transform into something beautiful and functional for your family.


Misty and her husband of 7 years live in Gonzales, LA with their 2 energetic and amazing children, Jax-7 and Elliot-4. She is native to Alexandria, LA and moved to the Baton Rouge area in 2005, where she now works for a large electrical contracting group. Her son Jax was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at 8 days old and Misty has made it her mission to fund raise and educate as many people as she can about CF. Misty and her family love to find local (and non-local) adventures on the weekends and playing board games together. She is an avid reader, make-up buyer, and coffee-drinker. She can be found on the sofa binge watching The Office on Netflix and on Instagram at @MISTYROUSSA.


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