5 Steps to a Stress-Free Renovation

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Yes, renovations are disruptive, expensive, messy, noisy and they can drag on forever. But that’s no reason to lose your cool. Downtown Shabby’s Frank Fontana offers a five-step plan for sailing through home improvements.

Step 1: Overestimate your timeline

“From the start, be realistic with your expectations for each project’s completion time,” cautions Fontana. He typically overestimates each deadline by 15 to 30 percent, which means most delays have little impact on the end result. “Tradesmen are human and things happen, so having a safe zone is important.”

Step 2: Lowball your budget

Fontana has a trick when it comes to budgeting: set low benchmarks. “People tend to be more frugal when they see conservative figures, even if they know they have more to spend,” he says. He also suggests getting into serious bargain-hunter mode. Start with fixtures, which can quickly eat up cash. Then scour the internet for deals, and keep an eye out for overstock items at a deep discount.
Step 3: … And then re-think your budget

If the numbers start creeping up, don’t panic – but do reconsider your current plan of action. Fontana urges, “Start by recognizing places where you may be willing to compromise or slash your scope of work.” Trading custom-milled wood trim for painted MDF, for example, can trim thousands from your bottom line.

Step 4: Accept reality

Do what it takes to keep your home livable during renovations, whether that means protecting untouched rooms with plastic zipper walls or encouraging a contractor to keep things neat. However, Fontana points out, be realistic. “It’s still a construction site, so be prepared for dust and a mess.” He recommends changing air-conditioning filters frequently so debris isn’t blown back into the air and keeping windows open whenever possible. Homeowners with allergies should be especially cautious of air quality, checking in with their doctor before construction begins. “Plan as many trips out of the house as possible,” Fontana says to anyone considering a home remodel. “This is always a good time to visit family and friends in faraway places!”

Step 5: Breathe

During a renovation, things will go wrong. You might discover brittle pipes or uncover mold, or you might break your budget two weeks into a months-long home makeover. Whatever the situation is, Fontana says, “Take a deep breath.” He encourages homeowners to step back, regroup, consider all possible solutions and look for a silver lining – any silver lining. Just keep telling yourself that when it’s all over, you’ll have the home of your dreams.

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