Renovation Lessons Learned

After more than two months into my renovation, there are certainly plenty of things I still want to do, however it is a dramatic difference from what it was in January.  I purchased the property in August 2022.  It had been neglected for years and there was a significant amount of clean up on the property required immediately.  We filled 7 huge dumpsters with old cabins, an RV, all the goodies you’d expect from a hoarder.  When my tenant left the main house in January it was a good time to get in there.  I had initially thought I’d get it back on the rental market after 30-45 days, however the project had become more expensive and then it made sense to move in to actually finish this to what it needs to be.  I am still getting there!  We have yet to do the backsplash, exterior lattice, fencing, all the extras.  The tiny house on property will also get a makeover in a few weeks.  Here are my lessons learned thus far:

  1. Architectural drawings are now required by St Johns County for any structural beam replacement even “like for like” replacements. This new requirement came into effect January 1, 2023 and pushed my project back – fortunately only a week delay but could have been a lot longer.
  2. Living in the house is a good idea before putting back on rental market. Testing out the house and getting to know what needs to be fixed.  Slowly but surely, I will get the landscaping and extras done.
  3. January is a great time for renovations in Florida. The heat and humidity of other times of year would have made it more challenging.
  4. Ceilings: Raising all the ceilings made the house feel more spacious. It was money well spent!
  5. Exterior colors: I was inspired by colors of the 1940s for this project, but with older siding, light colors are always best and tend to show the wear less.
  6. Exterior paint: Prep is imperative. The first coat peeled off!  The prep needs to be significant, at least 2-3 days for older homes.  Primer must be primer and not a paint/primer combo.  The house had to be painted twice and I would recommend not cutting corners on this.
  7. Two teams: Having 2 different contractors on interior and exterior did speed things up initially.
  8. On site storage: Having a pod on site made things easier and alleviated product shipping delays as I had pre staged everything on site.
  9. Leveling floors: If you want to put laminate on homes that are older, and not on concrete, you may need to invest in an extra level of flooring to level out the floor to allow laminate.
  10. Regular laminate vs vinyl laminate: Always vinyl in Florida. Impossible to tell the difference. Do not buy the lowest grade laminate. It gets a lot of wear and tear so you are wise to invest in a better product.
  11. Accents: Keeping feature walls is a good idea. Shiplap wall also painted white looks great and adds character to the house when all other walls are now replaced with new drywall.
  12. Appliances: Moving the washer & dryer into a closet was a great idea. Puts out of view and maximizes space in smaller homes.
  13. Countertops: Pick out quartz from wholesalers and then find your fabricator. Jacksonville has a whole lot of options.  Sparkle white is a lower grade but not the cheapest either. Looks great and makes smaller kitchens look more spacious.
  14. Appliances: Super impressed with service from Best Buy geek squad. They came out several times and were able to find a way to get my washer & dryer working in small space.
  15. Contractors: If it is not right you have every right to complain. This stuff is expensive you need to stay updated on every step.
  16. Exterior: Porch replacement made as it is an important living space in a bungalow and critical to the façade. I chose to completely replace the wood.
  17. Historic homes: Always be inspired by history and stick to the integrity of what the house was. Do not overdo alterations as they are supposed to have a certain look and windows in such a way.


About the Author
It’s great to meet you. I’m truly honored that you are taking the time to learn about me and my expertise. Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of being trusted with major clients, projects and roles, always giving my best, and with spectacular results. Born with a marketing mind, and after two decades of hands-on experience, I have fine tuned my craft. I love selling real estate and working with buyers. There are not many professions where you can help people in a significant way and make friends doing it!