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How to Narrow Down Your Renovation Wishlist

narrow down renovation list

There are few things more exciting in life than making your house truly YOUR HOME. Today’s post is for everyone who’s been dreaming about renovating their house and may even have a miles long list of ideas and wishes. In order to take the next step in your home renovation journey, you’ll need to narrow your wish list down to a well-honed list of realistic must-haves and action items.

Step 1: Establish a Budget

The very first step you’ll need to tackle is to figure out a clear budget range to devote to your home renovation. Notice we mentioned budget RANGE. You’ll want to start this process with a budget number in mind that is LOWER than what you can actually spend on your renovation when all is said and done. The hard truth is that remodeling a home inevitably uncovers unforeseen conditions and challenges once you begin opening up walls, so you’ll want to reserve some of your all-in budget as contingency. The lower end of your budget is what you’ll build your renovation scope around with your custom builder. This will make the entire process smoother and less stressful for you, knowing that you have a bit of a buffer to rely on in case something comes up or you want to splurge on a finish selection that you didn’t expect.

Curious about what questions to ask as you begin the home renovation process? Visit our blog post here.

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Step 2: Start with the Musts

Take a look at your full wish list and begin dividing the line items into three buckets: Repairs Needed, Must-Haves, Like-To-Haves.

The Repairs Needed section will be made up of maintenance items that you may have been putting off through the years. Maybe you’ve got a leaky window or an old roof or some deficiencies in your HVAC system - add these to your Repairs Needed list. There is a chance that there are additional repairs needed that you aren’t aware of yet. Your trusted builder and their expert stable of subcontractors should be able to help you identify what else, if anything, needs to be done to bring your home up to code or make it a healthier place for you and your family to live.

The Must-Have section will be made up of items that prompted this renovation journey in the first place. For example, maybe your kids have loved your home hard and left the bathrooms needing quite a bit of TLC. Perhaps your family has changed in the last several years and your kitchen or living room just isn’t fitting your needs anymore. As your family expands, you may find you’re needing to incorporate more dedicated or built-in storage. Whatever the case may be, fill your Must-Have list with items that you determine are necessary in order to make this home renovation journey “worth it” to you.

The Like-To-Have section will be made up of items that “sure would be nice” to have but can be the first to go if it turns out your budget can’t cover your desired scope for the renovation. This list will be different for everyone based on individual preferences, but it’s common to include some of those finer finishes that may or may not make your final cut. Items like upgrading manual window coverings with mechanized shades, replacing current windows with steel windows, completely rebuilding a fireplace mantle and surround instead of refinishing the existing one, or upgrading all kitchen appliances instead of just the ones that need replacing are examples for this list.

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Step 3: Focus on Rooms You Use the Most

This is key to making your money really count. Focus on your kitchen and breakfast area, living room, master suite, and any other space that you use on a DAILY basis. If you have teenagers who will be leaving the nest in a couple of years, consider not giving their spaces the “best of the best” upgrades. We often find that secondary bedrooms and bathrooms, dining rooms, and bonus/game rooms fall lower on the priority list, especially when children are out of their younger years. Sometimes upgrading the exterior of the home (beyond repairs) also falls lower on the list since most people see more daily benefit from upgrading their interior spaces.

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Step 4: Meet with a Custom Builder Early

Now that you’ve honed your lists, the best next step is to interview and select a trusted custom builder. They will help build a preliminary estimate based on current material and labor pricing so that you can talk through dozens of options and further refine your list together. Your custom builder will also connect you with an architect and interior designer who they think will be a good fit for your needs, style, and budget. As you go through the planning and pre-construction phases, your custom builder should continually revise their preliminary estimate with each new decision and selection so that by the time you’re ready to begin construction, your budget is comprehensive and accurate.

For more information on how to interview your custom builder candidates, visit our previous blog post here.

Above all, the best thing to remember as you hone your wish list and take the next step in your home renovation process is to build a trusted team of partners who keep your best interests and goals at the forefront. A trustworthy, communicative, and high-quality custom builder, architect, and interior designer can make all the difference.

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Marie Sims

As a veteran team member of Sims Luxury Builders, Marie enjoys sharing what she’s learned with the world.


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