Buying a new home is exciting, but depending on where you are on the property ladder, you may not be getting a move-in ready property. Although it can be tempting to jump right in to transform your space, it’s not always a good idea to rip down walls as soon as you close the sale. Here’s why you should put down that sledgehammer and take your time instead.
1. You’ll learn about your home and its pain points
Whether you buy a total fixer-upper, an older home that needs minor updates, or a newly built place you want to personalize, it’s smart to play the waiting game before embarking on major renovations, says David Stevens, a REALTOR® with Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty in Victoria, British Columbia.
“I tell my purchasers I’d like to see them in the house for 12 months before they start renovations, so they get to know the house and the property inside-out. It’s like buying a car: you always test drive a car to see if you like it,” says Stevens.
After living in your home and seeing how it functions during all four seasons, you’ll figure out your priorities. Maybe you’ll notice you need more lighting or realize you have plenty of storage and don’t need custom-made built-ins.
2. You’ll have more time to plan your project
The key to making smart home improvements is in the planning. Allow yourself the chance to meet with several architects, designers, and contractors without the rush to complete a project before you move in.
More planning also helps you stick to a budget, because you can ask questions, compare quotes, speak to references, and figure out what you really need. Working too quickly can lead to poor decision-making and doing things over.
3. You’ll have a better grasp on your finances
Living in your house before ripping it apart also lets you see what you can afford—and what you can’t—because you’ve been paying your mortgage and expenses for a while, says Stevens. After forking out cash for your down payment, closing costs and moving expenses, it’s wise to get back on your feet financially before committing to anything else.
Getting all the work done before you move in comes with huge costs: you could end up having to rent somewhere if there are delays in your renos. Doing things slowly gives you—and your savings account—some breathing room.
4. You’ll probably change your mind (a few times)
You may have thought gutting the kitchen was your top priority when you first bought the house, but once you’ve lived in it, you might end up liking the older wood cabinets and decide to paint them instead of demolishing them. Or, you might see that having a finished basement with a family room and guest suite has become more important to you than redoing the bathroom.
Your perspective will shift once you move into your home, because it’s hard to know how your family will use each space until you actually live there. While test-driving your house, take note of which rooms you spend the most time in and whether there’s something you want to do but can’t—such as entertaining outside or working out in a home gym.
5. You’ll need a break
Buying a home can take its toll: from qualifying for a mortgage to house-hunting to negotiating with the sellers and handling closing costs, the homeowner journey can be a stressful, exhausting one. Maybe after all this—plus packing and moving—you don’t also need the headaches that can accompany a major remodeling project.
Taking time to revive yourselves after purchasing your property can help you think more clearly when you’re ready to make the next set of big decisions: picking what to renovate.
Your REALTOR® can help guide you through these decisions and more, as you enjoy your new home.