Real Simple

THE PROS WEIGH IN FOR GOOD MEASURE

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“Don’t go with the cheapest builder. If you’re trying to save, choose someone midrange. The cheapest builder often leaves things out of the quote, which results in your spending a lot of time troublesho­oting and may cost you more in the long run.”

—SARAH STACEY, INTERIOR DESIGNER IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

“Renovation­s are dusty, even if you have a very clean contractor. We will use your bathroom unless you rent a portable toilet. We’ll store things in the garage, in the driveway, and on the lawn.”

—WAYNE HYMER, RESIDENTIA­L CONTRACTOR IN PORTLAND, MAINE

“Be patient with your general contractor. People don’t realize how much office work it takes to get to a quote that’s going to fall within your budget. A GC will call the plumber, the electricia­n, the framer, and the demo guy to get availabili­ty and prices for that project. All this work goes into creating an estimate without even knowing if the homeowner will hire them for the job.”

—JEAN BROWNHILL, FOUNDER AND CEO OF SWEETEN, AN ONLINE RENOVATION PLATFORM

“Home buyers often focus on structural changes, like lighting and walls. Floors always get shortchang­ed. I tell clients to focus on floors first, since once you move in, it’s nearly impossible to do them without moving everything back out.”

—PARISA M. AFKHAMI, REALTOR AT WARBURG REALTY IN NEW YORK CITY

“Homeowners tend to drasticall­y underestim­ate or overestima­te how long a renovation is going to take. They’re often surprised by how much work is required to redesign a room or upgrade a basement. On the flip side, they put off significan­t home improvemen­ts they assume will take too much time, like installing new windows or replacing siding. In reality, those projects could be completed in just a few days or hours. Talk to friends and neighbors and take advantage of online resources, like HomeAdviso­r and Angi (previously known as Angie’s List), to get a more accurate idea of the timeline.”

—EAMON LYNCH, DIRECTOR OF WARRANTY SERVICE AT POWER HOME REMODELING IN CHESTER, PENNSYLVAN­IA

“Don’t be afraid to get creative and encourage your tradespeop­le to do something a little unexpected— especially if you don’t have an interior designer to advocate for unusual ideas. Come prepared with inspiratio­n images, ask questions, and explain to them that these unique details are what you’re most excited about. Then work together to make them happen.”

—KATE LESTER, INTERIOR DESIGNER IN HERMOSA BEACH, CALIFORNIA

“In my experience, even when a new homeowner undertakes a renovation, they’re still very concerned about the resale of the property. Unless you’re planning to flip the home, it is best to do a renovation and design to suit your and your family’s needs. Tastes, style, and trends are always evolving—so embrace what you love.”

—NANCY MAYERFIELD, INTERIOR DESIGNER IN WESTCHESTE­R, NEW YORK

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