How to Renovate Without Blowing Your Budget and Losing Your Mind

Many people find  renovation or changing products aggravating and vow never again though it can change our quality of life. This is even after due diligence of shopping for styles, process and features. There will be problems you were never told to prepare for by anyone… until now. So spend a few minutes reading through the very real problems of renovating or replacement which will save you from real problems later.

My Lifetime in Renovations

I renovated my house 3 years ago and now am in the process of moving. We built our new Framingham store, which once housed the Salvation Army second hand store (great people, btw). Our 120 year old Dorchester store has been remodeled 8 times in my 30 years at Yale.

yale renovations

Framingham Before Photo Februray 2015 – Framingham After Photo June 2015 

So I understand being a consumer and being a supplier on the other side at Yale since 1986. The products change, but the strategy on how to be happy with the finished product does not. Most of this seems basic, but it is crucial. Following are a few tips for a smooth renovation. Scroll down if you are replacing products.

Pick the Right Partners

This is absolutely critical. You have to be on the same page with everyone involved; the architect, general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers (more about them later). You want to work from a plan and not design in field.

For example, we were able to be on time and budget in a 20,000 square foot renovation in our Framingham store, because we had Bergmeyer Architects plan every detail down to lighting placement.

My own 1,000 square foot renovation did not quite go as smoothly (to be polite) due to lack of planning among other things.

How Do You Pick

The bane of every professional existence is social media. We all hate it because what we say about our own stores no longer matter. This is precisely why you should use it to vet every professional.

Forget about industry awards, because they give zero insight on how you will be treated. If an architect doesn’t have any ratings, have them show you their work. Talk to past clients. Spend the time, because it will save you a ton of time.

Appliances or Lighting Issues

This is classic good news and some very bad news for you to consider. First, appliances and lighting are more functional than ever.

Back when I was selling appliances in 1986, we sold one-speed Maytag washers, but now you will buy a 5-speed washer with twice the capacity using half the energy.

front load washer controls settings

You can also buy a wall oven controlled by your phone. It will tell you how to properly cook your food. LED lighting, induction and smart cooking are all wonderful innovations and are definitely worth considering.

Yet chances are you will still be unhappy bordering on extremely upset with whatever you purchase.

That one-speed Maytag in 1986 lasted 15-20 years. Yet that new 5-speed machine will not last as long and require more service. In a kitchen full of appliances, there is almost 100% certainty you will need some kind of service.

Yet, unlike the car business where service and repair are crucial, technical appliance repair is almost nonexistent.

Even in high-end brands like Electrolux, Samsung, Bosch, Thermador and LG to name a few of all the appliance dealers from the internet to box stores to mom and pops, only 20% of the dealers have service and only 5% have more than a couple of techs.

You have to prepare for this eventuality. Before you buy, you have to know who will be fixing the eventual and certain problems. It is as important as features, benefits and prices.

How to Protect Yourself

Although I am not fond of recommending sites causing me consternation, social media is still the only way to protect yourself.

Similar to the example above, Google, AngiesList and BBB complaints are the best sources of information.

Suppliers should have multiple ratings. Read through the reviews. You will gain insight on how you will be treated by understanding how they have been treated.

Lastly, this process can be fun when executed properly.

Seeing your vision coming to life is also very personally rewarding.