5 Tips for a Successful Home Renovation

At Bōde we want to ensure our home buyers, sellers and owners are equipped with all the information and tools to confidently and successfully transact and maintain their largest asset. We want to make sure you feel supported along your entire journey. For that, we have forged some partnerships with vetted Prōs. If you don’t already know her, let us introduce you to the brilliant Amanda Hamilton and her new venture Palette Archives. Whether you’re looking to reno a home to get it to market, need to put some work into your new purchase, or simply want to make some upgrades to your current home, Amanda has some insightful tips for a successful home renovation.

Bringing your vision to life, without breaking the bank

Written by Amanda Hamilton, Palette Archives

For many people, the purchase of a home is one of the single largest investments they will make in an entire lifetime. Next largest expense? Potentially that renovation you’ve been putting off for months/years/decades/what-seems-like forever. Construction and all of the decisions that go along with this massive undertaking can be overwhelming and we have solutions to solve this challenge and protect your investment.

1. Hire Professional Contractors and/or Trades

While the popularity of design shows continues to grow and bring attention to the design industry, like most reality television shows, they can be incredibly misleading. Let’s be real – renovations cannot be completed overnight with a $500 budget(…wouldn’t that be a dream). We highly recommend finding a qualified professional with past experience in your type of renovation to assist with the project. 

Not if, but when unexpected issues arise in a renovation, you want to trust that you have the right partner on your side to support you and assist in making the right decisions for your dollars. Ensure you meet with at least 2-3 different contractors to discuss their process, past experience and see if they are a good personality fit. Further, personal references from friends or family members will go a long way when you need to lean on your contractor in stressful situations to avoid cost overruns, expensive mistakes or poor design decisions. 

If you do opt to be your own general contract (aka “GC”) because you have mad project management skills, strong trades and past experience in this area, ensure you obtain multiple quotes to ensure that the Scope of Work (aka “SOW”) you are undertaking is being properly quoted. When there is a huge difference between the quotes, this generally indicates that the drawings or SOW isn’t clear or that the sub-trades bidding on the work are inexperienced. The best-case scenario is that quotes are within 10% of each other on either the high or the low side. Going for the lowest bid, especially when it’s dramatically lower than the other quotes could result in quality issues down the road or inexpensive “add-ons” that weren’t considered in the original quote. Be wary of anyone who is too cheap or available to start right away – having to wait for a trade is a good indicator of the health of their business and the quality of their work.

2. Create an Inspiration Board

Before anyone throws a sledgehammer, make sure you have a vision for your project. There are so many great platforms like Houzz + Pinterest to gather inspiration in one place to create the direction for your home. We find many of our clients collect images for months, even years and that their style, needs and wants can change dramatically during this time as they explore different design styles and open their eyes to fresh possibilities. 


We often find there are multiple different design styles on a client’s board – this is okay! You may have heard different styles like “Transitional” or “Classic Contemporary” thrown around online and it’s totally fine to develop a home that is reflective of your individual taste. The goal with your inspiration boards is to narrow down the choices and find consistent elements that stand out from image to image. For example, you mind find that all of your images show a common stone like marble or blonde wood floors. This is a great starting point. I


t’s important that you share a home with a partner, they jump on board with the vision for the home. Making decisions on the fly during construction can be stressful and result in expensive mistakes – no one digs buyer remorse so make sure to take the time to firm up the direction of your home before you start doing demo.

3. Make a Wish List

You’ve heard it before: Form and Function. While it’s easy to get caught up in the glossy, aspirational images you find online, it’s just as important to ensure its functional. A wish list can cover both the form and the function but tends to be more descriptive and helps homeowners to nail down their needs in a concise format. We generally find that creating a wish list room by room helps to solidify what is important and narrow in on the finer details. 

Examples for consideration on your wish list: Hardy flooring to hold up to large dog and three kids, Mudroom with ample storage for active family and sporting gear, Double Ovens for a family that entertains, Extra guest room for frequent out of town visitors, elevator for homeowner with aging parent, etc. 


Making a comprehensive list takes time – make sure to leave yourself several weeks to complete this and revisit this list as you live in your home. It’s important to not only understand what you want but also what you don’t want after your renovation. It’s also imperative to note which items are non-negotiables (eg. Stain-resistant countertops) and which are “nice to haves” (like built-in cappuccino machine). This will help when it comes time for your contractor (or you) to price the vision for your home and make quick decisions about what is going to make the cut.

4. Select Finishes and Materials

Inspirational images and your wish list will only going get you so far – you’ll have to make some hard decisions on the actual finishes and materials you’ll be using in your home. This is toughest part because you know what you like (because you did your homework in tip number three above) but you may not know how to put it all together and that’s okay! This is where Palette Archives, comes in to save the day. Palette Archives has an online library of over 35 Interior Designer curated finish and material palettes with samples that ship right to your door. Bonus? You can purchase a “plus” palette that includes specifications for lighting, door hardware, cabinet hardware, bathroom hardware and plumbing.

5. Create a Budget + Timeline

This is traditionally one of the most difficult steps of a project and it’s likely that you’ve heard horror stories about underestimating costs or cost overruns, or schedules that run way over what was anticipated. There are many reasons why this can occur and certainly some are out of your control but this could be due a number or reasons. Some of the most common are hiring an inexperienced contractor, site delays caused by unknown site conditions, materials being back-ordered, not having specifications finalized and… change order (ugh!). 


Set expectations for both the budget and timing early on and then add more time (and then a bit more time). Having a 10-15% contingency on your budget lessons the stress of unforeseen costs + add-ons (because you really wanted that wire brushed hardwood). Ensure your schedule also leaves a buffer for completion. Nothing causes more stress to both your trades and your family trying to move in while the site is still under construction – don’t do it! Depending on the size of your project we recommend adding a minimum of two months onto the schedule just to be safe


Budgets need to be realistic – I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget.” While craft beer is certainly giving bubbly a run for its money these days, ensure that you price everything prior to going into construction and take the time to adjust the budget and specifications to suit an investment you are comfortable with.

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