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Building & Renovating

The 10 Golden Rules of Renovating Your Home

Renovating your home is often a difficult phase. Make your renovation a successful one with these 10 pro tips.

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Photography: Jilson Tiu (Main Photo)

Some homeowners balk at the mere thought of renovation, what with the money, scheduling conflicts, and technical nitty-gritty involved. That's why we consulted architect Arlene Maslog and interior designer Hannah Acab-Faustino to dish out tips on what to expect prior to a renovation, and what to do while it's in full swing.

1. Know what you need

The first thing you should think about is what you want to achieve for your home. For example, it is important to determine "...if you need the space to be more functional, more spacious, brighter in color or bigger," says Arlene. This will be the motivation for your renovation and how you will plan it.

2.  Draw out a complete plan


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“Renovating goes well when one has complete plans—from structure to interior finishes and furniture,” says Hannah. “Start with a design and do not be fickle-minded." If you're confident enough or have design background, you can plan your renovation yourself, or follow the next tip.

3. Consult the experts


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There's a reason why they are called "experts." Arlene encourages you to "hire an architect or an interior designer depending on the type of renovation, especially if you are not confident or you're] clueless about the task."

4. Write it all down

"Keep a logbook or journal of your renovation project," advises Hannah. Overseeing a renovation can be a stressful job if you are not organized, so it is important to keep track of the day-to-day developments. And unless the renovation  is the only thing on your mind, it's always wise to jot down important details.

5. Never be your own contractor

Hannah says a good contractor should fit the following descriptions: "Is equipped with experience, can provide skilled labor, decisive, and can resolve issues quickly and without delay." The role of the contractor is to "ensure that the plans and specifications of the architect or designer are implemented as planned."

6. Work within a realistic budget

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"Decide on how much you are willing to spend for the renovation and get an accurate estimate," says Hannah. But you have to be flexible as well-Arlene advises you to "be ready with a little bit more money than what you intend to spend or what was quoted by the contractor."

7. Renovate in phases


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Arlene shares this wise tip: "Divide a major renovation by phase." For those with budget constraints, a "simple paint job can already change the look of a place."

8. Follow a timeline

Renovation projects can drag on forever, so it is best that you make yourself available most of the time. Hannah suggests scheduling it at a time "it will be most convenient for you to undertake a renovation." Early on, let your contractor know the targeted start and end dates of your renovation, and make sure they work within that time frame. However, "be ready for possible delays," she cautions. 

9. Don't be scared to recycle


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"If there is an old piece of your house that you love, refurbish it and use it," encourages Arlene. For her, "recycling should be considered not just for the low cost but for our commitment to Mother Earth." Old construction materials such as wood planks, roofing materials or doors can be used again, she adds.

10.  Build an amiable relationship with your hired experts

According to Hannah you must "maintain good communication with your contractor, designer or architect so that the project will go smoothly and coordination will be easier." Make sure you and your hired experts are on the same page in every step of the renovation process to prevent playing the blame game later on. 

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Real Living magazine

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