How Quickly Should You Begin Improving Or Renovating A New Home?
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For the vast majority of homebuyers, when we buy a new home, we do so with a few reservations. It’s incredibly rare to find a home that is everything that we want; most of the time, we’re delighted to find a home that is 80% perfect, and we willingly accept that some work is going to be required to move that percentage up to 100. If you do find the perfect home that is within your budget and requires absolutely no renovations or maintenance, then snap it up, but for most buyers, that’s not a reality.
For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with seeing every house you buy as something of a fixer-upper. It means that you will be able to put your own stamp on your new home, and tailor it to meet your exact specifications… but there is a complication that many homeowners simply forget to consider: how soon can you begin those home improvements?
The best case scenario
If you are buying a new home that you know is going to require some work before it meets your exacting standards, then the absolute best case scenario is that you renovate before you actually move in. If you have the opportunity to do this, seize it with both hands, because it is by far the most convenient and should also help to deliver the best results. Being able to renovate in an empty space is the dream, and should allow you the flexibility you need to make the changes you want and need to make.
However, sadly, the scenario above is… rare. While the dates might occasionally allow you to leave your new home empty for a few days before you have to move in, it’s unusual. Even if you can have a couple of days with the new house empty, there’s no guarantee that will be long enough to complete all the work that you want to do— for example, if you’re looking to build an extension, you need weeks rather than days.
This means that for most new buyers, the work they want to do has to be done when they are already living in the building.. This isn’t ideal, but it is feasible… though it does bring another question to mind:
How quickly should you begin the improvement or renovation process?
The answer to this question isn’t quite as obvious as you might think. Many people would say something along the lines of: “give yourselves a chance to move in and get settled, then you can begin the renovations”.
This sounds like a good idea… but is it? Not necessarily, and here’s why:
- You’re giving yourself “time to settle in”, which sounds like a positive, but it’s also a false sense of having a chance to settle in. If you intend to wait a few weeks then begin the DIY work and renovations, then you’ve not really “settled in” at all— you’ve just delayed the inevitable.
- The longer you leave DIY work, the less likely you are to actually complete it. It’s not unheard of for people to buy a house and intend to make a number of changes. Then, life gets in the way. They move in, establish a routine, are busy with their kids and their jobs… and the changes never get made. They move out, five years later, and then repeat the pattern of envisioning changes in their next house but never getting around to doing them. As a general rule, the longer you leave a DIY task the less likely you are to actually do it— so sooner might be better.
So, let’s agree: you shouldn’t “give yourself time to settle in”. What next?
We’ve established that planning to do DIY and renovation work a couple of months after moving in is less than ideal. That means that they is now an eight week period to consider… so how soon is too soon?
It’s fair to say that we can discount the first week after you move into your new home; it just isn’t going to be a good idea.
- You’re going to be struggling to adjust your life to the new home; for example, you will need to spend time changing your address with various companies, establishing new accounts with new providers for your utilities, and so on and so forth. The last thing you need during this initial transition period is to have to go into project management mode for a DIY project.
- You’re also more likely to be a little short on cash in the immediate aftermath of a move, so the first week isn’t a great time to begin potentially-costly DIY changes.
- You’ll also still have a lot of unpacking and organising to do, which is incredibly time-consuming. As a result, you’re unlikely to have the space in your schedule to dedicate to making any home improvements immediately.
So, the first week after moving in is out— and realistically, the second week is likely to absorb some of the overflow from the above. However, by the time you get to the third week, you should be able to consider a few tasks…
The work you can begin during your third week living in a new home
- Choose renovation work that is simple; the third week after moving into a new home is not the time to begin huge construction projects or tearing out entire bathroom suites. Instead, focus on small, easily-achievable changes that enhance and improve a room so that it is closer to meeting your overall standards.
- It’s also important to choose renovations that are inexpensive, as the expense of moving will likely still be fresh in your memory. So choose changes that allow you to make minor, but important adaptations; you can choose to swap out existing, rusted or unsightly taps in favour of replacements that you can source for relatively low cost; the same applies to fixtures such as light fittings, installing blinds, and various other improvements that can be performed relatively inexpensively.
- Finally, it’s important to choose tasks that are fairly quick to do; it will only take a short while to install new cheap taps or put a blind up over a window, which means you should be able to manage your schedule to allow for these within three weeks of moving.
So, after three weeks, you can begin to make small, inexpensive, and time-efficient changes… but what about all the renovations that don’t fit within that description?
The eight week deadline
When you have established the big renovation changes you want to make to your new home, you need to set an eight-week deadline… but it’s not a deadline that means the work must be finished. After all, some projects are simply impossible to finish within eight weeks, but you can set a deadline that prevents these renovations from being forgotten about. Agree that after eight weeks, you must:
- Make formal plans to begin the work at some point.
- This could mean submitting planning permission, contacting tradespeople for quotes, or starting a savings account.
- Have a clear priority list of which renovation tasks are most important and the order in which you wish to complete them…
- … and promise yourself you will stick to that order to the letter.
If by the end of the eight weeks you have made small renovation changes and put together the plans for larger jobs, then you’re in good shape— and it won’t be long until your new home is able to meet your exacting standards. Enjoy!