Apartment Renovation: How to Do It Right

An apartment renovation can be every homeowner’s dream — and nightmare. You can create your dream home, but costs can spiral out of control. If you’re planning a renovation on your apartment, keep these tips in mind.

An apartment renovation can be every homeowner’s dream — and nightmare. On the one hand, homeowners are excited about turning their homes into the spaces they’ve always dreamed about, but they’re also worried about the possibility of costs spiraling out of control. If you’re planning a renovation on your New York apartment, keep these tips in mind.

1. To create your budget, add up your projected costs … then double it.

Budgets written down on paper make total sense, but they often don’t anticipate everything that could come up during the reno. You may discover that your subflooring is severely damaged and needs to be replaced before you can even think about laying down that Brazilian walnut flooring you’ve had your heart set on. Or maybe there’s heretofore undiscovered water damage that will need to be repaired. If you haven’t set aside a cushion for the unexpected, you could find yourself spending a lot more than you’d planned. By automatically doubling your estimated budget, you’ll be able to anticipate and deal with any unexpected expenses.

2. First do what you have to do, and then you can do what you want to do.

The phrase “Work now , play later” can totally be used when it comes to your NYC apartment renovation. Whether you’re putting together a $10k job or you’re planning to drop half a million dollars on your renovation, it’s natural that you want something that reflects all of your hard work (and money) with an obvious aesthetic upgrade. Everyone loves the sexy part of home renovations — picking out the Carrara marble countertops, or deciding between an AGA or a Wolf range, or figuring out which Farrow & Ball paint shade will best show off your fabulous living room while bringing out the color of your eyes.

But while there’s nothing cool about, say, spending $30k on a plumbing upgrade, If your apartment needs under-the-hood fixes, make those first. There’s no point in “putting lipstick on a pig.” Take care of the plumbing issues, electrical problems, or any damage that’s causing issues with your apartment. It may mean slicing some of the budget for the more cosmetic fixes or postponing some of them, but in the end, you’ll be thankful you did. If you ignore glaring structural issues with your apartment, you’ll pay much, much more for them in the long run — and fixing them later might even mean having to tear out your precious aesthetic upgrades in the process.

3. Consider using less expensive materials.

You may have your heart set on an all-marble kitchen, but mixing some of your surfaces with a less expensive material like butcher block can save you several thousand dollars or more. If you find that you have to spend more than you thought on structural and behind-the-scenes issues, be creative when it comes to your aesthetic fixes.

4. Don’t go cheap when it comes to contractors.

You may think that if one plumbing contractor gives you a bid for $5k and another gives you a bid for $9k, it’s an obvious choice: Go with the cheaper option and have more money to spend later. Well, you could assemble a line that wraps around the city a thousand times filled with people who’d tell you they wish they hadn’t made that decision. When it comes to NYC apartment renovations, don’t cut corners that you will regret later. Go with the contractor with the great reputation who’ll do it right the first time. This strategy will save you money down the road.

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