The best time to renovate a house is when you feel willing and ready to undertake the project. With all the moving parts, home renovation and design can be equal parts exciting and stressful if you’re not in the proper mindset.
But if you’re a homeowner who’s thought about it long enough and are ready to turn your home remodeling ideas into reality, this blog will explore the best times of the year to tackle certain projects, how to plan for a major renovation, and how to stay in-budget and on-trend after a brand new home renovation.
What Is the Home Improvement Process?
The bulk of the home improvement process rests upon (1) what you need renovated, (2) your budget, and (3) how early you need the project completed. Planning an initial project scope, budget, and timeline may feel like it’s taking the fun out of house design renovation, but it will help make the project flow much smoother in the long run.
Before we dive into the best time to renovate a house based on what projects to tackle in which seasons, let’s create a list of home renovation tips to make sure you’re on the right track from the start.
Creating a Home Renovation List
Before we dive into the best time to renovate a house based on seasonality, it’s important to create a list of what you’re hoping to accomplish with your home renovation. This can include everything from your favorite home remodeling tips and ideas and interior remodeling and house alteration plans to the more logistical elements, like scheduling and budget.
1. Creating a Plan
The first step to any successful remodeling project is to develop a plan that lists your goals for the renovation. Your project plan may include:
- A list of needs and wants (i.e. new bathroom, updated kitchen cabinets, etc.).
- A rough sketch of the desired finished project.
- Projects divided up between DIY (if possible) and ones that require a professional.
When to Start: 6 to 12 months before you’d like to begin your project.
2. Setting a Budget
After you’ve created a rough plan, the next step is thinking about finances. When setting a budget, you should include the costs of building materials, labor, permits, and even decorations or cosmetic touches. To create a home renovation budget, you’ll want to think of the following:
- How much you’re willing to spend overall.
- A list of cost estimates from trusted professionals.
- The price of all required materials.
When to Start: 3 to 6 months before beginning your project.
3. Finding Contractors
Finding a team of trusted contractors is one of the most important steps. When interviewing and selecting your contractors, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Years of experience: How seasoned is the contractor you’re working with? Nothing beats on-the-job expertise.
- Contracting license: This one is simple, but can be overlooked. Before hiring a contractor, make sure they have all the necessary licenses.
- Certificate of insurance: Contractors should have workers’ compensation and liability insurance for the type of work they perform.
- References: It’s important to hear from people who’ve worked with a contractor in the past. They can fill you in on their work style, timeliness, and professionalism in a way that no license or certificate can.
- Payment schedule: A reputable contractor won’t ask you to pay the full price upfront, and the Better Business Bureau advises not to. Discussing payment terms before beginning a project (and getting those terms in writing) is important.
When to Start: 2 to 3 months before your start date.
4. Building a Timeline
Once the budget and team are in place, it’s time to talk about the timeline. If you’re really focused on choosing a specific date to have your project completed by, pick an end date and work backward from there. Consult your contractors and discuss which steps of the remodel need to be completed first and how long each step will take.
When to Start: 2 to 3 months before your start date.
5. Preparing for the Renovation
As the initial stages of planning come to an end, it’s important to get down to the nitty-gritty of what the renovation process will look like. You’ll want to think about whether or not you should live in your home during construction. If so, you’ll want to make a plan on what to do when your kitchen or bathroom(s) are out of service for a few days or weeks.
When to Start: Make plans 2 to 3 months before your start date and pack up and move 1 to 2 weeks before your start date.
How to Plan a House Renovation
After you’ve created a preliminary list and know what projects you’re hoping to tackle, it’s time to turn your attention to the best times of year to complete each of those projects.
Additions to Your Home
If you’re someone who likes to get the big items checked off their list first, then focusing on any additions you’d like to add to your home is a good place to start. The most optimal time of year for house renovation projects is actually January through early March. While this sounds counter-intuitive, the frozen ground and dry air can make it easier for contractors to pour concrete.
When to start: January through early March.
Looking for a new front porch or a backyard deck to host some summer cookouts? Outdoor projects are typically best completed in April through August. While there’s certainly flexibility to this timeline, if your project requires the installation of a new structure, deck, or patio, contractors will be halted when temperatures are below freezing and the ground becomes too hard to dig.
When to start: April through August.
One thing any home can’t function without is a working bathroom. But since the summer months are prime vacation time for many families, house refurbishment ideas like bathroom remodels often make sense during the time of year you’re away from your home the most. By scheduling your home’s bathroom remodels during July through September, you can better avoid the annoyance of being without a bathroom or two.
When to start: July through September.
One of the best times of year for a kitchen remodel is usually the end of the year just before the holidays approach. Contractors’ workflows are often slower around this time (compared to spring and summer), and building materials may be more affordable around this time of year, depending on supply and demand.
Average Cost of Home Improvements
Wondering how to estimate home remodeling construction costs? This is going to depend on the type of house you have and its estimated value. According to The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), you should only look to spend a certain percentage of your home’s total value based on the room or upgrade. Below is the NAHB’s suggested spend (based on home value):
- Kitchen (16%)
- Attic or basement (10 – 15%)
- Primary bedroom (13%)
- Living area (10%)
- Primary bathroom (7%)
- Small bathroom (5%)
- Siding (3 – 5%)
- Windows (3 – 4%)
- Patio or backyard (2 – 5%)
- Roof (2 – 4%)
- Standard bedroom (1 – 3%)
If you’re looking to completely renovate your house, the average cost in the U.S. can range from $15,000 – $200,000. Depending on the type of home and the renovation, prices can vary dramatically. The final “price tag” after a renovation is dependent upon structural or mechanical repairs, square footage, underlying issues, location, and materials used.
Can You Get a Construction Loan for a Remodel?
For many homeowners thinking about the best ways to renovate a house, $15,000 can sound steep, let alone a couple hundred thousand dollars. When dealing with large residential construction and remodeling projects, homeowners often take out a construction or renovation loan, which entails refinancing with a mortgage that reflects the house’s estimated value post-remodel.
Many lenders provide mortgages that cover up to 80 or 85 percent of the remodeled home’s value. Using home equity for renovations is not uncommon, but it’s always important to consult with a financial expert before taking on major loans.