There are many good reasons for wanting to renovate your NYC apartment. You might want to expand to accommodate a growing family, you might be looking to upgrade, modernize or simply to increase the property’s value. One thing’s for sure if this is your first home renovation project it can feel a bit overwhelming. But with good forward planning and the right people for the job it needn’t be. Before embarking on your big project consider these tips on how you can make it as smooth as possible.

Like every big project, you need a well-structured plan if you want things to run smoothly. In these days of Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easy to get carried away and fail to differentiate between what you want and what you need. There’s nothing wrong with a little inspiration but try to stay realistic. Begin with the practical basics and what makes financial sense, then look into what else you can afford.

2. Come up with a realistic budget

When coming up with your budget get at least three quotes for any job in your home and account for any job costing 10-20% more than expected. With so many variables involved it will be difficult to work out a strict budget but by calculating the price per square foot you can get a rough estimate. Renovations almost always go over budget so have a contingency fund in place to cover unexpected costs.

3. Choose the right contractors

Whether your project is a success or not depends to a great extent on the contractors you choose for the job. Going with the lowest bid wouldn’t be advisable but neither would the highest bid. The important thing is that you do your own research. Check that they’re fully licensed and insured and have experience with this type of job. Ask to see before and after photos of previous projects and a list of references.

Also, try to find someone that you feel you can get along with. You’ll be dealing with them for quite some time so having a cordial relationship will make a big difference. Once you’ve found the right people, agree to a timeline, a schedule for regular meetings at the site and get everything in writing before the work begins.

4. Follow the building rules

Whether you’re renovating a multi-family townhouse, co-op or condo apartment, you’ll need to follow the building rules and get the proper permits. Otherwise, you could face a fine or a stop-work order. No two buildings in NYC have the same rules so find out what yours are while you’re still in the planning phase. For a start, there may be rules prohibiting work on weekends, public holidays and certain times of the day. Co-ops are well known for being sticklers for rules, so you’ll probably get to know all of them during the renovation.

5. Get the right materials

The old adage holds true, you get what you pay for. Keep these words in mind when selecting the materials for the job. The options are practically limitless in the materials you can choose from so do your homework and choose materials of a good quality that appeals to your taste and is within your budget. If you can’t afford the sort of quality you want now, then it might be better to put the project off until you can.

6. Don’t live in the apartment

No one wants the added cost of temporarily moving out but it should be a consideration. If you can’t afford to move out for the entire duration of the project, then at least try to schedule some time away when possible. Living in the apartment while the renovation is going on will mean you’ll often get in the way and slow down the pace of the work. Adding to that, there’s also the stress you’ll experience of having your lifestyle disrupted. If you choose to live in the apartment, whether periodically or for the whole of the renovation, try to set up a temporary camp in a room that isn’t part of the renovation.

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