How to Know It’s Time to Remodel

Home remodels are disruptive and costly, but if you love your home, maybe an upgrade is worth the time, money and headache.

Remodel Courtesy of Rachel Brougham

You love your home and don’t want to sell. Yet, you find yourself wishing for a few changes — perhaps a larger kitchen, a reconfigured upstairs, an updated bathroom.

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Home remodels are disruptive and costly, but if you love your home and want to stay in it, perhaps an upgrade is worth the time, money and even the headache that so often comes along with a home remodel.

Plan a successful remodel with these 20 tips.

How do you know when it’s time to remodel?

When my husband and I purchased our 1947 one-and-a-half-story Minneapolis home in 2016, we had plans to add insulation and update the home’s electrical system (knob and tube was still active upstairs), right off the bat. We also eventually wanted to add a second bathroom on the second floor, finish a portion of the basement and possibly do something in the kitchen to give us a little more space.

These were mostly projects we would do together over time — my husband was extremely handy and was confident we could do most of the work ourselves — and then hire out some of the work we felt needed a professional’s touch. That was until my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly.

The last thing I wanted to do was sell the house we loved, the house that felt like home. Yet changes needed to be done in order to make it a place i which I felt comfortable raising our son, until it came time to sell.

It was time to remodel. And, I had to hire someone to do it for me.

With a list of changes, upgrades and a budget in mind, I interviewed two contractors who came highly recommended by people I know and trust. In the end, I went with the second contractor I talked with, not because of the total price tag (it was more than I expected, of course) but because I felt very comfortable after our first few meetings.

I knew we were on the same page, I appreciated their philosophy of working with the homeowner on every little aspect of the project and after seeing their design plans, I was blown away with what they could do with the space they had to work with. My takeaway: Be sure you have a good rapport with your contractor.

And then came the kicker: I had to move out for four to five months!

Related: Learn how to survive a DIY remodel project.

Before a remodel, ask yourself these questions

A home remodel isn’t anything like what you see on HGTV. It’s not usually over in six to eight weeks and there isn’t a big reveal at the end. Ask yourself these questions before you get started:

1. What is my budget?

Allow yourself some wiggle room because there will be some projects in your remodel that will go over budget, or unexpected roadblocks that come up (hello, asbestos). Here are some tips to help you save money during your remodel.

2. What are you willing to cut out or live with?

When planning, you may find you can’t have it all. What are you willing to cut out or live with for now, and perhaps upgrade down the road?

3. Can you live in the chaos or should you move out?

This will depend on the scope of your project. I had hoped my son and I could stay in our house during the work and was disappointed when I found out that wasn’t possible. However, once the work got started, I was thrilled that we had moved out temporarily, despite the extra cost and the hassle.

Over the next couple months, follow along with my home remodel as I live through it. There’s already been some unexpected turns, but in the end I’m confident I will have made the right choices and will be happy to call my house home for several more years.

Here are some of Rachel’s other remodel insights: 

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.