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Building & Renovating

7 Hacks That Make Renovations Easier

Make the daunting task of a home makeover as painless as possible

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Photography: Jilson Tiu (Main Photos)

Do you watch home renovation shows on a daily basis? In a perfect world, we could Queer Eye our way to the perfect home. (Exactly how does Bobby Berk do it? Inquiring minds want to know.) The truth is, it takes more than a day, a month, and sometimes even a year to get your wits about you. From evacuating a room to make space for construction, to sourcing furniture and finishes that actually fit your budget, to dealing with surprise anay attacks and faulty wiring, there’s a lot that goes into renovating a space.

If you’ve ever thought of giving your room, home office, or entire house a facelift, here are some red flags to watch out for and scheduling fixes to help you get things off the ground.

1. Determine the extent of your renovation.

“Home renovations can be costly—oftentimes almost double the cost of just starting with a brand new structure,” says engineer and contractor Raymund Mislang of Homechanic.

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“Think of renovation as surgery—you’re opening up your home to discover what’s wrong inside in order to fix it.” When you knock into old walls, check on plumbing, and even open up ceilings, you are bound to find problems that can be extremely costly to fix. Everything from termite-infested wood to faulty wiring to corroded GI plumbing will require a lot of effort to upgrade.

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Before even calling a designer or contractor, assess how far you’re willing to take your makeover. Cosmetic touch-ups may be easy on your budget, but will not help with any structural problems that lay beneath the surface.

2. Prepare your budget.

As with any project, what you peg as your expenditure at the very beginning will most likely balloon upward as you progress and run into challenges—lazy workers who are paid by the day; structural, electrical, sanitary repairs; and inflation can all affect your budget.

If you’re doing major works, costs can go even higher. Raymund says that the demolishing a typical 300-square meter home will more often than not, be cheaper than renovating it. If you’re determined to transform your childhood home, for example, into a modern, fully functioning structure that’s up to date with technology, make sure you set up a budget that can withstand all the hits.

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3. Decide on phases.

To alleviate spending, you can choose to go room by room. If your family will be living in the house while it’s being worked on, it’ll be smart to take things one area at a time so there is minimal disruption to your daily routine. Plot out your ideal working schedule alongside your budget so you stay on top of your bills all throughout the process of renovation.

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4. Meet with professionals.

Whether you’re hiring an interior designer and contractor or dealing with a contractor yourself, you will need to set things up with them before taking any leaps (be careful, DIY hopefuls). Working with people who are experts in the field of construction and design will not only give you insight on how best to carry out this project, they can make recommendations that the average homeowner may not be aware of.


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Adding a second floor to a home, for example, will require computation of loads and the manipulation of other variables, which only an experienced contractor or a licensed engineer can tackle. “Working with a structure that doesn’t have floor plans can be even trickier,” Raymund says. “Retrofitting existing columns for structural support requires know-how.”

5. Marie Kondo like there’s no tomorrow.

When you’re gutting your home, it only make sense to reassess exactly what you’re filling up your rooms with. As you clear your spaces out and prepare them for a new look, take the opportunity to throw out what’s no longer necessary and keep the essentials. Maximize the chance to start with a clean slate by saying goodbye to past baggage.

6. Be on top of it.

Undertaking a home renovation is never easy—stress comes with the territory. Resist the urge to clock out, to surrender all control to your designer and contractor, and be an active and willing participant in the process. Let the experts guide you throughout the journey, but remember that ultimately, the ownership of this space everyone is working on is yours. Don’t forget your stake in the project—your involvement will make all the difference.

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7. Stay flexible.

As with anything in life, you’re going to run into unexpected surprises (some of them, unpleasant) while running through a renovation. Maintain an open mind, breathe easy, take breaks from the site, and keep your eye on the prize.

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