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Advice for first time home buyers who are planning to renovate

Written by Posted On Sunday, 18 June 2017 18:44

Buying your first home is excitng and challenging at the same time. Most people want to make some changes and renovations to their house to turn into their own.  You may be buying a house that was sold "as is" and needs some TLC or you may be buying one where you just want to repaint so that you have your favorite colors.


So, here is some advice for soon to be first time home buyers to help you in the process.

1.  Plan ahead.  This is one of the biggest mistakes I see.  Renovations take time to do.  If you wait until the day you close, you are just slowing down the process and potentially delaying when you can move in...or learning that there isn't enough time to do them before you move in.  Many don't realize that for some items, such as sanding and refinishing, that's you have to be away and can't walk on the floors (not to mention that the furniture needs to be off the floors).  And, renovations can take time to do (e.g. sanding may take a week or so + several days for drying before you paint; paint may take 1-2 weeks to do, kitchen cabinets need to be ordered (and may take 6 to 8 weeks for material), carpet needs to be ordered (may take 1-2 weeks to arrive).  And, remember that your contractors are not likely to be available to start tomorrow.  And, if it's summer time, they may be booked 1-2 weeks out.  So, plan ahead on your timeline:

  • - Have your real estate agent build it into the contract so that you can have 2 visits to interview contractors.  This way, you can select your contractors, get costs and get timelines, and from there you'll know how to plan.
  • - Once you know your timeline, figure out how to make it work.  This may involve extending the lease on your current place, or staying with friends/family/hotel, or living in the basement.  It may mean that part is done before you move in and part is done afterwards.  Be sure to do this planning before you book your movers.


Be realistic on how much you can spend.  What is your budget?  What are the most important items?  What other expenses will you have (e.g. movers, buying furniture, etc.).  Most 1st time home buyers underestimate the costs for home renovations, especially if they watch a lot of HGTV.  And, most 1st time home buyers have a limited budget due to deposit, closing costs and moving expenses.  So determine what's most important and what's critical to do before you move in.  Remember, you'll be living in your new home for years, so you have plenty of time to accomplish your other projects, even if you wait 6 months to a year to them.


Choose your contractors wisely.  Read their reviews, check their references.  Get recommendations from your friends/family and real estate agent.  Don't just go for the cheapest fact, this is the surest way to get an inferior job and get poor results.


If you meet with your contractors ahead of your closing, you'll be much more organized and purposeful in your choices, and you'll reduce your timeline.  You'll also learn from them the best order to do things so that you avoid rework.


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Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl

I'm known as The Flooring Girl, and I used to own my own Flooring store in Westchester County, NY.  I blog about hardwood flooring, sanding, carpet, other flooring options and home decor.

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