If you are thinking about a remodel this year but are hesitant due to your prior experiences or other people's horror stories, do not fear. It may not be easy, but you can get through it by setting reasonable expectations for yourself and effectively preparing. Setting realistic expectations includes considerations on expected timelines, costs, living through it, and final outcomes. So, let’s review each of these.


HGTV fantasies of an overnight remodel need to be thrown out. When you hire a contractor, don’t just ask how long the remodel will take; ask them to outline the expected length of each step of the project. Then plan to add some time for possible unexpected variables that could, and almost always, crop up.

Once you’ve found your dream GC, be aware that most are booked out for several months. But that’s to your benefit. During this time you can work with your interior designer to research and select appliances, fixtures, finishes, and nail down all other aspects of your project. It's important to then share those details and lead times with your contractor.


Be realistic about your budget. Know what you can spend and work backward from there. Obtain a clear idea of construction and material costs, then add a buffer of 10 to 20 percent to allow for unexpected conditions (like the discovery of a cracked foundation or leaking pipes). If you find your budget doesn’t meet your Pinterest dreams, look for less expensive but equally stylish alternatives. From appliances to tile, there are affordable options aplenty.

Living through it

Small renovations are more bearable to endure than larger ones. If you’re remodeling a master bathroom, move into the guest room for a few weeks. If you’re refreshing the kitchen, set up a temporary kitchen in a corner of the dining room, with a small fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. It will be cramped and certainly won’t feel ideal, but it’ll be manageable. You need just enough to get by for a short time.

Full-house remodels, however, are a ton of work. For day-to-day happiness during larger construction projects, I recommend my clients live in a short-term rental. The cost is definitely worth your sanity. To avoid the expense of an apartment, some homeowners will execute a whole-house remodel in stages. On the one hand, this means one section of the house is always usable. On the other hand, it prolongs the construction period and means living with the chaos longer.

The outcome

Communication is key. Your interior designer is your boots on the ground, and will communicate all details to the contractor throughout the process. Knowing what to expect and planning accordingly can mean the difference between a manageable process and a miserable one.

Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the remodeled space will be worth it!

Chandler Prewitt Design is a full service interior design firm serving Santa Fe and the surrounding areas (chandlerprewitt.com)

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