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The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration, exteriors, Gardens & Outdoor Rooms, My Seattle House, My Side Yard

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The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodelingvia BHG and Simple Details Blog

As we are in the midst of renovating our side yard and planning our future interior remodel, I’ve been reminded of one thing you need that will always lead success with a remodel. If you don’t have this one thing, you probably aren’t ready to start renovating.

You have to have FLEXIBILITY if you want a successful outcome to home remodeling projects.

It’s really nice when projects come together just as you expected (that’s definitely a good goal), but being prepared in advance for a few unexpected experiences definitely makes the whole process less stressful and more successful.

Being flexible means you’ll be less stressed.

Last week I was told our concrete would be poured. It wasn’t. That’s not the contractor’s fault. It was the weather’s fault. If we had a big party planned for next week, we would’ve been totally stressed by the delay and the mess.

We have been inconvenienced by not having a fence around our yard, by having contractors outside of our window (and inside when we’ve done interior work in the past!), we had rats in our garage, we have stuff laying around outside that won’t be cleaned up until the projects are done. Remodeling projects often come with chaos, mistakes, messes, delays and rescheduling of contractors, so the ability to go with the flow will give you a greater sense of control.

The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling

Being flexible offers you opportunities to make better decisions. 

As our project got underway, it became clear that the existing porch we had originally planned to keep wouldn’t look as great or flow as well into our new patio or steps. If we left it as it was, we’d be somewhat disappointed in the finished project. We really wanted our porch to be attractive next to our new concrete and of course, next to the dream Dutch door. : ) That future visual sealed the deal for us, ha! Being flexible allowed us to make the right choice for this project.

The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling

Being flexible allows you to correct mistakes and not perpetuate more problems.

We wished we had made the decision to redo the entire porch when the rest of the concrete was removed, but our budget conscious side had originally resisted doing more than seemed necessary. And darn, that delayed decision and lack of careful planning cost us more money. Being a little flexible with your design plan and budget helps you to swallow your pride to correct the mistake. Flexibility allows you to be confident in your new decisions so you’ll avoid additional problems that you may eventually regret.

Being flexible helps you to navigate the decisions without a breakdown.

Unexpected things happen when you remodel. Decisions need to made. Sometimes you realize as you go that you want or need to do a bit more (or less) than you originally planned on, you and your spouse might disagree on decisions, or your contractor might find a problem he didn’t expect. Flexibility will definitely help you to navigate the unexpected and maintain your sanity.

The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling

You save money when you are flexible with expectations and creative with solutions.

Being flexible means you can save money along the way, too, and still end up with a great project! Sometimes you save in the long run because you are able to group projects together to save on labor costs. But flexibility doesn’t always mean you have to do more or spend more money to get the results you want. Flexibility while maintaining a budget means you will be creative with solutions and complete projects at a pace and timeline that makes sense for your family.

The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling

Wanting to finish the side porch now means we need to be flexible. We stay on budget by being totally fine with choosing not-as-expensive concrete surfaces as opposed to insisting on finishing with beautiful stone work. It means we will save additional projects in this space for a future time. It means we had to limit this project to the side porch this year, and not go on to the back patio or the front porch until we were ready to tackle another project. It meant we had to start our renovation outside instead of inside.

When you have a big vision and want to do ALL THE THINGS now, it’s hard to be patient and content on a budget! Flexibility means we will be able to do the best we can with what we have right now and be grateful for what we are able to do (rather than be impatient about what we can’t do or be tempted to overspend).

Renovating a house inside or out can be a stressful (and expensive) experience, but the more flexible you can be, the better the end result for your project, your family, your budget and your sanity.

The Most Important Thing You Need Before Remodeling


  1. Cathy

    Thank you for your great reminder for all of us doing renovation or building projects. We will certainly need to be flexible as we plan our building project. We don’t know what we’ll find when we dig up the dirt!

  2. Megan

    Amen! You are so right! Every project we have done has always had an unexpected thing come up that was completely out of our control. Like when we were in the middle of remodeling our bathroom ( walls torn down and everything) and our water line burst in our yard (totally unrelated). We had been planning marble everything in that bathroom but with the unexpected cost of fixing a water main we went with white subway tile and you know what? It looked just great. Still the bathroom of my dreams. Stay flexible and always give yourself some extra room on time and budget if possible.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Oh, dear! Ha! I’m glad your bathroom turned out great anyway! Something similar happened to us when we were remodeling a bathroom in one of our houses. In an unrelated event while the contractors were working on our bathroom, our dishwasher overflowed and ruined the kitchen flooring. So many unexpected things can happen, it definitely pays to be prepared to do more than you counted on and simplify your original plans if necessary.

  3. Jo Jo

    AMEN ~. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Jenn @ Loveland Lodge

    Great post! And it’s so very very true when it comes to remodels. Can’t wait to see your finished side yard!

  5. Cyndi

    Thanks for the inspirational posts that are so relevant to my life right now. My husband and I are house hunting, and I’m trying to keep your “words of wisdom” in mind. I know that our budget will not allow both my husband and I to get our wish list…so I keep an image of the vision you have for your house in mind. It’s amazing what an open mind and creativity can bring to a house that may not be the ideal when people move in.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I’m glad it’s helpful! It was interesting when we found this house because it was husband who said he wanted *this* house more confidently than I did on our first walk through. He was certain right away even without hearing my vision. That surprised me because it didn’t look like what either of us imagined we were looking for. That worked for the best because I could eventually reimagine it to be what I wanted, but he wasn’t going to be as excited about my vision if it didn’t *feel* right to him to start with. I hope you find just the right place for both of you! :)*

  6. Dawn

    Having gone through multiple large and small renovation projects, I’ve always thought remodeling “support groups” would be a great thing! The folks at work get sick of hearing about the 1st world problems we’re experiencing – Heh heh…Or how about a therapist specializing in short term counseling/marital therapy around remodels :)

  7. Renee

    When we were repairing a small section of the concrete on our patio, an 8×5 area, (tree roots) became an expansion into the yard. We were going to keep the sidewalk, but as we looked at it from the other end of the yard we soon realized the sidewalk needed to go. It enabled us to connect the patio area to the side of the house in a much more attractive fashion.

  8. Nikki

    Fexibility….. and a stiff drink. :)

  9. Lisa

    I couldn’t agree more!!! As a person who suffers from OCD, and a person who wanted the whole interior floor plan of my house redone, I had to sit down with myself and come to terms with how all the chaos was going to affect me (and, in turn, everyone else in my home). Knowing we would be doing this ourselves (hubby is a contractor), I realistically realized that this would take a year or more to accomplish on weekends, and even proactively asked my doctor for anxiety medication to get me through the rough times (yes….I’ve had to use it a few times) when my OCD would rear its ugly head. We’re 7 months in, I have 1/2 a kitchen (better than none!!), the ceiling is ripped out in a few places, the virgin wood floors are covered in RamBoard, most of my walls are down and I’ve gotten used to tasting sheet rock dust in my food from time to time lol. Having a plan but being flexible is definitely key. An understanding spouse is even better. This week when I told him I wanted to expand the main bath (which meant rerouting pipes to get rid of the upstairs laundry and put in new pipe downstairs) he sighed and agreed. My best advice is to trust one another, appreciate one another, and be prepared to disagree from time to time….but never let being right become more important than being a team.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, I agree. Such great advice and words of wisdom. Hang in there, with preserving your sanity and marriage in mind :), in the end it will be worth it!

  10. Lynn Wolf

    Thanks for the timely post as we are 75% through a kitchen remodel and can see the light at the end of the tunnel! A couple twists and turns so far but flexibility is key to maintaining your sanity for sure :)
    I can’t wait to see your new side yard! I’m sure you can’t wait to just sit out there and enjoy the view and nice weather.

  11. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener

    I absolutely agree that there needs to be a certain amount of “go with the flow” attitude, but I also believe that flexibility needs to have its limit. If contractors realize that you’re very flexible on things, the quality of the work often slides. For instance, a shower valve is put in the wrong place and instead of moving it to the proper place they take the attitude of, “Well, they won’t mind, so it’s fine there.” And that’s fine, if indeed you really don’t mind, but everyone has their things that the definitely want a certain way and if that happens to be the placement of the shower valves, it becomes a bigger issue. Some contractors are great and will do the right thing because it’s the right thing, but there are plenty out there who are interested in getting in, getting out and getting paid as quickly as possible.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I totally agree! You have to be the boss of your own projects. I’ve had many experiences where the contractor wanted to slip something by us and we definitely had to be firm on what we expected. When you are paying the bills, you have to learn when to bend and when to put your foot down :).

  12. Carmen Gomez (Lilly)

    Having an understanding of flexibility is very important. We could really use a bathroom and kitchen overhaul but the truth is we need new windows too. This is a big costly project for us but it is more important than having a pretty bathroom or kitchen. We are putting some lipstick on the kitchen for now so that we can save for those windows. Putting in new windows in the end will allow us to save more money for the prettier things we want. We literally have money going out the window right now with how old our existing windows are.

  13. Sheila

    Maintain flexibility – excellent advice for life in general! Would you mind speaking to our politicians about this?

  14. Autumn

    So true! Just finished our kitchen remodel and the days I wanted to pull someone’s else’s hair out, I had to be reminded that perfection comes , but sometimes after a few mishaps!

  15. teresa

    This post rang so true to me right now!…I’ve been in the go with the flow place for a long time….over the years we have remodeled many homes…so I understand what you are feeling right now.
    Even now as we are in the mist of a “new build” I still find my self having to embrace the “go with the flow” attitude….I can attest to…nothing really ever goes as planned…at least not in my world. (smile)
    Happy Day!

  16. Nan, Odessa, DE

    Did you recently share a room freshner made with distilled water, lavender and lemon oils?

    Can’t find the recipe or directions.

    Hope it was your blog!

  17. Maggie

    So true. Good words to follow by. You ALWAYS go over budget. Having put a little more aside is the key. In the end this is all going to be stunning!!!

  18. Lauren

    I loved this post and am saving it for the future since we are planning on doing some projects in our new home. Thank you for the advice! Your projects are so fun to read about and also inspire me!

  19. Veryl Yarnes

    Flexibility seems to have been the philosophy of the guy who layed that little patio by your back door. LOL

  20. Cindy Hoffman

    Hey there Melisa, nice to see some of the things to expect when we start doing our Reno. you reminded me that the Patio needs some work and I think I should be a little flexible with how we handle it. Thanks for the tips and the guide. Keep the great guides coming!


  21. Selene

    Wow, great post! You are certainly right, being flexible during a renovation is key. If you are trying to rush things are get them done a specific way you will most likely be very unhappy throughout the whole process, and very stressed. This is some great info and advice, thanks for sharing!

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