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When to Renovate After Buying a New Home

As was recently reported in the Seattle Times, the housing market in Seattle has heated up once again. When faced with inventory shortages and rising prices, many highly motivated buyers are purchasing older homes with the intention to renovate. A home renovation is one of the best ways to fully customize your home, however, choosing the best time for a home remodel is an important consideration that takes into account financial goals, temporary housing and more. To ensure that the timing of your remodeling project is well thought out, here are some key factors to consider.


Should I Move into My New Home Immediately?

Of all the questions, this is the most important one. Your answer will depend on your family situation, lifestyle, and the size and scope of the renovation itself. Whatever you do, don’t start renovating your home until you know exactly what your objectives are.

In situations where the project is more extensive, for example, a custom kitchen remodel or master bath remodel, you may need to move into temporary housing first so you can minimize household disruptions. While it may seem doable to live without a kitchen or main bathroom, most contractors recommend you find a temporary place to live. This gives the professionals time and space to complete their work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If you purchased a real fixer-upper that will require a makeover in every room, it’s best get the work started before you move in if possible. Packing and moving is stressful and not something you want to be doing more than once if you can avoid it. While some people choose to move in for a year or two before renovating to boost their savings, if you have the means to remodel before moving in it can save you the added stress.

On the other hand, minor upgrades to smaller rooms, like new tile, flooring, or paint, can easily be completed while you’re living in the house if needed. Many homeowners do choose to have these smaller updates made just before moving in, so that furniture and décor doesn’t have to stay in storage long, but it’s not a big deal either way.

Bottom line: Only renovate before moving in if it feels less stressful and you can swing it financially.


Which Renovation Project Should I Start With?

To keep stress at a minimum, don’t let yourself feel pressured to get all your renovations done immediately after moving in. That approach isn’t practical nor good for your sanity. Instead, prioritize each project based on a realistic timeline, along with your available funds and design objectives.

If a dream kitchen is at the top your remodeling wish list, getting that project completed first may be enough to satisfy you for a while. After all, your updated kitchen will serve as the de facto heart of your new home. You may choose to break your home remodel into phases, completing the first few updates before moving in and revisiting the list again after a few years. Tackling larger improvements like a kitchen, en suite makeover or exterior remodel first will allow you to truly relax in your new home just as soon as you get settled in.

If budget feels like a major concern, it’s always better to delay renovations in your secondary living spaces, such as an underutilized basement or attic. You can make do with the spaces as they are, and save up until it feels more comfortable to spend the money.


How Long Does Remodeling Take?

You probably already know the answer to this: every project is different. What doesn’t waiver is the time it takes to create a design, get it permitted and line up quality subcontractors. For all major renovations, you’ll need a permit and permits require detailed design floor plans.

Just like the bustling real estate market, remodeling contractors are also extremely busy right now. Many will have a few months waiting list before they can get started on drawing up your home plans. Then, the planning process can take anywhere from a month (powder room remodel) to a full year (whole house remodel).


Do I Even Need to Remodel Right Now?

Whether you’ve done it before or not, purchasing a new home is always exciting. But the emotional drain of closing on a home coupled with moving in can take a big toll on the average person. Since the flood of emotions can be overwhelming at times, making rash decisions based purely on impulse, like jumping in to a home renovation, may not be in your best interest.

Sometimes it makes more sense to move in, save some money for a few months, and then renovate. Naturally, every new homeowner’s situation is different. Perhaps you overpaid for an older home with noticeable imperfections just to take advantage of the lower interest rates. Maybe you felt that it was time to move your family out of a crowded condo and into a bigger home. Remember why you are moving in the first place, and let that guide your remodeling decisions. In most instances, taking time to pause and reflect before moving forward on a home renovation yields more satisfying results long after the project is finished!

Take a good look at your new home and decide if a coat of paint and some fresh hardware will update it enough to make it livable now. If the home is in really poor condition and needs its major systems updates, that’s one thing. If you just wish it had different wide-plank floors, that’s another.


Temporary Housing During a Remodel

If you live alone or with a partner, a home remodel may only take some minor lifestyle adjustments. On the other hand, if you have a family with young children or teenagers, you’ll need to be more creative while planning your renovation timeline. This is especially true right now, as work-from-home and remote education is commonplace. If you need quiet during the day for Zoom or conference calls, a renovation of any size will likely be a disruption.

Possible solutions include taking a family vacation or finding alternative living accommodations while the work crews are there. Yes, some people actually use a renovation as the perfect excuse for a long vacation—smart!

Others look for temporary housing options, which include:

  • Paid Accommodations: Rental options include: hotels, Airbnbs, VRBOs and other short-term listings. While these come at a cost, they do allow for you to pick the most suitable place for your family’s needs. The good news is that these lodgings often offer discounted rates for extended stays, and vacation rentals tend to be especially well-priced. If the rental is in your neighborhood, it never hurts to strike up a conversation with the owner. Often, neighbors are likely to give you a better deal.
  • Staying with Loved Ones: Whether it’s family or friends in the neighborhood, temporarily moving in with people you’re close to can be an economical and convenient way to keep a roof above your head during a renovation.
  • Renting Your Sold Home: If you have the luxury of staying put in your current home, before moving it the new one, that’s a wonderful—though unique—option. You can consider asking your buyers if they would rent the home to you while you renovate you new place. Some people will be flexible and others won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.


Are You Ready to Start Renovating Your New Home?

When it’s time to get started renovating your new home the best way to ensure project success is by partnering with a reputable design-build contractor. Creating design plans is a detailed process that takes time, so reach out just as soon as you’ve made a purchase to avoid delays.

We’d be happy to work with you to achieve all of your remodeling objectives, or help you prioritize projects. Tell us more about your dream space by contacting Model Remodel today.

Written by Model Remodel

Model Remodel is a design-build, remodeling contractor located in Seattle, WA. For over 20 years we’ve been building with purpose, craftsmanship and sustainability in mind. We are proud to continually make the list of top Seattle contractors for our beautiful interior designs and homeowner-focused remodeling process.

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