10 Steps For Starting Home Renovation Projects

  1. 2013-01-28_1242Write down your goals or at least establish your goal.  “My kitchen is out of date and I want to completely renovate it so I enjoy cooking more”.  “I am planning to sell my home and I want to show potential buyers how low their energy bills could be living at this home”.
  2. Establish a budget for the project.  At least have a general idea of what it will cost.  Knowing the material cost of the product you want to use and then consulting with at least 3 professionals on the cost of having that product installed is a good start.  Make sure you factor in at least a 10% overage (its rare that projects come in under-budget).
  3. Make sure you have a way to finance your project, whether you are using cash, credit or some kind of sustainable loan like the Michigan Saves Program.  Make sure you know the true cost of your project.  If you are using credit make sure you know the ongoing costs.
  4. Establish a realistic timeline for the completion of the project.  Make sure you have a buffer in there for potential delays (delays almost always happen).
  5. Hiring the contractor:  Get at least 3 bids from licensed contractors before hiring (be cautious on taking lowest bid).  Choose a contractor that values communication.  Make sure there is a contract involved and there are stipulations on budget and timeline overages.  The contractor needs to be accountable for communicating any overages to you immediately (overages almost always happen and the key is communication).  Make sure the contract stipulates how materials will be paid for and how the contractor gets paid.  Make sure the contractor has incentive to stay on time and budget.
  6. Make sure they pull proper permits.  If you are unsure, call your local building inspector to see if what you are planning to do requires a permit.
  7. Check the contractor’s work at all stages.  If work is being done that will eventually be covered up, such as behind drywall, it will be too late before you find the problem.  If you are not knowledgeable about the work being done, make sure you have someone that can help you check the work.  Make sure the contractor knows that you will be checking the work at all stages and to NOT close anything up before you get a chance to approve it.
  8. If you are unhappy or suspect something is being done improperly, STOP the job immediately!  Don’t be afraid to speak up!  If you suspect something being done wrong that could be a building code issue, call your local building inspector and find out.  Your taxes pay for having a building inspector, so utilize that service.
  9. DO NOT make your final payment to the contractor unless you are 100% satisfied with the work done.  At the same time make sure you are realistic about what you hired someone to do.  Don’t expect granite counter-tops if you chose a laminate to simulate the granite look.
  10. Follow the steps above and do your due diligence.  Renovation projects can be very stressful, but if you take your time and follow these steps, you can eliminate many of the typically headaches.

GreenEdge offers a range of services to help you tackle your renovation projects.  Below is a brief rundown of our services…

  • Home Energy Audit – This is a much deeper look at problematic areas of the home, also with a focus on efficiency, safety, durability and sustainability.  This service utilizes advanced diagnostic equipment to pinpoint problems and prioritize potential improvements.    CLICK HERE for more info on this service.
  • Home Renovation Consulting – Following the steps outlined above is very important.  In many projects hiring a 3rd party to consult on renovations (especially when they involve improving efficiency, safety, durability and sustainability) can really help avoid problems.  CLICK HERE for more info on this service.


  1. Home Energy Audit 101: What You Should Know | GreenEdge Michigan - February 11, 2013

    […] If you do choose a separate auditing company and they recommend a contractor, make sure you ask them if they are getting any percentage of the sale.  Get multiple bids for any work recommended.  If you are managing the renovation project on your own, take a look at our 10 steps for starting home renovation projects. […]

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