Before starting any renovation ,(especially on a historic property,) there are 7 questions you should always ask. And, knowing the answers to these questions will make for the best project possible. So, I thought I’d share these “secrets” of our company to help your next project run as smooth as the pros.
Key #1 What are the goals of the project?
There is a reason this is #1. You need to know exactly what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. What problems are you looking to solve? What functionality do you hope to achieve from your new kitchen or bath or whatever room you’re working on. Get specific and make sure that your renovation will meet these goals. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Make sure you’re aiming at something.
Key #2 What is the simplest way to accomplish these goals?
Not every renovation needs to be huge and expensive. Once you know your goals sit down and try to find the simplest way to accomplish them. Sometimes it is an extensive renovation and other times it can be a simpler fix. Don’t immediately assume the worst, but try to find clever ways to get what you want with the least work and expense.
Key #3 What is the budget and timeline?
This key will eliminate more stress than all the rest during your renovation! Dave Ramsey says “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” And a timeline is like a budget for your time. You need to have a budget and it needs to realistic. With a budget you will know which items to splurge on and where you can save a few dollars. Don’t forget to add about 20% for unexpected expenses. And once the budget is decided, stick to it.
Key #4 If working on a damaged section of the house how can we prevent this in the future?
Don’t just dress up the pig. If you have rotted siding from faulty gutters and you just replace the siding, you’ll soon have rotted siding again. You need to find the source of your problems and deal with it effectively before handling any of the cosmetic issues associated with the damage. Fixing the source of the problem will ensure a lasting repair that you can enjoy for years.
*The last three keys are specific to historic properties.
Key #5 What historical elements can we save/reuse?
Sometimes you will have to remove some historic details when renovating an old home, and when at all possible these pieces should be saved and reused. The value of these items is important to your home and reusing them will create a seamless renovation that blends in perfectly with the rest of the house. If your house is a Craftsman and you remodel a bedroom with stock moldings from Home Depot…well…there are simply no words. Just don’t do it.
Key #6 What elements will need to be removed? Why?
As a preservationist it’s hard for me to accept that a historic element will have to be permanently removed, but sometimes it is necessary and beneficial to the renovation. If you have to remove historic elements that won’t be re-installed I want you to ask yourself one question. “Why?” If you can’t answer this question then you should re-think the decision to nix it. If there is a valid reason to have the item removed then please donate or sell it to an architectural salvage yard for other homeowners and restorers to use.
Key #7 Where can we use salvaged/vintage materials effectively?
If your house is historic, then you should really consider incorporating salvaged materials into your renovation. You can find great deals on these items and they will make your renovation fit with the rest of the house. There is nothing more architecturally jarring than an ultra-modern bathroom in a Victorian house or some other historic home. Show your own personality in your renovation, but maintain the integrity (and value!) of your home by sticking with the general style that already exists.
If you can find the answers to these 7 keys then your renovation will run as smooth as the pros! There will always be hiccups but armed with these keys you will be better prepared and less stressed. And that always makes for a happy renovation.
Here’s some related posts to help you along your way:
How To Use Salvage & Save
Ideas For Decorating With Salvage
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.