Lessons from a First Time Renovator

It has been two years since I started the renovations on my fixer upper. I am not particularly handy, but I had watched a lot of renovation shows, so figured: how hard could it be, right? And I can always Google how to do something!

I soon became the Dame of Demo: I demolished the kitchen cabinets then stripped the kitchen wall down to the studs and scraped off popcorn ceiling. Next came the bathrooms. I knocked out bathroom tiles and even removed a toilet! I hired professionals to put it all back together (always wise to know your limits!)

I learned some valuable lessons in my renovation that I wanted to share:

  1. A hammer is a more civilized way of taking down a wall, but it will take longer than say, a sledge hammer.
  2. Be prepared to be without appliances especially if refinishing hardwood floors, for a long time. Then add more time.
  3. Doing your dishes outside will feel like you are camping, but that feeling will wear thin when the devious squirrels start eyeing your clean dishes with pure, evil thoughts.  A laundry tub in the basement is a suitable alternative.  
  4. It is perfectly fine to drink and reno, but keep the drink nearby at all times. In the event of a copper water pipe exploding due to an incomplete solder job, you can still sip your chardonnay while you hold a loaf pan under the broken pipe to catch the water draining from the upstairs bathrooms.
  5. When your contractor wants you to come ‘see something’, it’s going to cost you money.
  6. Hire professionals to do the plumbing and electrical. Sometimes they will make a mistake (see point #4) remember they are liable for anything they have done wrong, and will make it right. I now have a beautiful tile floor in my powder room where soggy hardwood used to be.
  7. Drywall dust will get into everything, everywhere, in your home. If you are a neat freak, you may wish to stay in a hotel or you will lose your mind.
  8. The Cardinal Rule: Renovations take longer than you see on the DIY network. Unfortunately.

I encourage anyone to buy a fixer upper and try their hand at some demo and renovations themselves. It’s a great way to inject your personal taste to your home, and build equity!




After. And yes, there are no baseboards. Refer to point 8 above.

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