When my boyfriend (now FI) and I decided to move in together we each had a townhouse. Mine was 5 years new, his was 25 years old and he’d lived in it with 4 other boys for the past 8 years throwing university parties. It was gross.
We decided to move in to his house because of location, but we both knew there’d be some renos to bring it up to “girl standards” (the carpet really should have been burnt as toxic waste. lol). We patched/sanded/painted all the walls, ceilings, trims and doors, replaced all the carpet, refinished the hardwood, put cork flooring in the kitchen/dining area, changed lighting fixtures and redocorated. All cosmetic stuff really.
Here are my top tips for survival:
Set the budget first. This helps set expectations and, for newbies, can be a reality check on how much renos (ie labour) really costs.
Communicate: When my FI thought I was getting carried away with fancy finishes and lighting, I’d explain to him how I’d shopped around to get things in our budget. Once he knew I was watching the bottom line, he’d get excited about the “shiny” things we could actually afford.
Communicate: If you get tired, sore, cranky (and you will) tell your partner. You might have to keep working to get stuff done, but at least if you get snippy, he’ll know why. If you need to take a break, take a break.
Know when to DIY and when it’s worth paying someone else. Our house has LOTS of stairs and tall walls (it’s a 7 story townhouse. Yes. SEVEN.) We knew we couldn’t paint it ourselves. But my FI thought he could do the patching/sanding himself. Well he could, but it was faster to have the painters do it. Yes, they charge for labour, but they are so good at it, it takes them 1/3 of the time it takes you. It was worth it.
Quotes, quotes, quotes! At least three quotes for every job. And tell each contractor you’re getting multiple quotes. It lets them know you’re serious and doing your homework. It also prompts them to give you a good price, or even offer to match/beat any better quote.
Go with pros. Pay the little bit extra to get a reputable contractor; one with a BBB rating or other independent reviews.
Check the work and be picky. No one will notice that little speck of paint on the cieling or one crooked backsplash tile – except you. Every day. Forever. Have things fixed/redone until you’re satisfied with the job. You paid them to do it right.
Our best money saver: Carpet removal and disposal – requires no skill and saves you hundreds. Just rip it up, cut it in strips, roll it, and put it at the curb for regular garbage pickup!