What Do Renovators Do?

Terry Masters

Renovators rehabilitate and remodel real property. They can be professionals or amateurs. Professional renovators are typically contractors, architects, or engineers in their individual capacities or as part of a real estate construction firm that specializes in renovations. Amateurs can be anyone who undertakes a remodeling project, usually of a home. The renovation process involves identification, assessment, planning, budgeting, engineering, repairing, rebuilding, and refinishing.

Sometimes, a renovation restores a property to its original historic appearance.
Sometimes, a renovation restores a property to its original historic appearance.

Renovations restore a property to a previous state or update and remodel it to conform to a more desirable design and functionality. Property subject to renovations can be residential or commercial. In the residential market, renovations tend to focus on bringing a house that was built in a prior decade to modern standards or restoring the key features of the property's historic design. For example, residential renovators might choose to restore a Victorian mansion to its prior glory or might take a house with no artistic merit and gut it to update the layout and modernize its internal systems.

Renovators assist with a home remodel.
Renovators assist with a home remodel.

Commercial renovators typically change or improve the functionality of income-producing property. For example, a commercial remodeling of a school might add a gymnasium, expand the cafeteria, or install central air conditioning. A renovation of an abandoned hospital might change it into affordable housing. An exception is the renovation of property with historic merit. The work done on landmarks and other historic buildings focuses on returning the property as closely as possible to its original condition.

Renovators may restore old mansions to the way the appeared when built.
Renovators may restore old mansions to the way the appeared when built.

Renovators typically engage in an eight-step process to complete a project. First, he identifies a suitable property. In some instances, the cost to renovate a building exceeds its value and it makes more sense to tear it down and build something new. Next, he has to make an assessment and establish the scope of work. Not every task that can possibly be completed to update a property is worth the money. Every project has a budget, and the renovator works to find a compromise between wishes and practicality that keeps the project within the scope of available resources.

Modern style bathrooms are often installed by renovators.
Modern style bathrooms are often installed by renovators.

The renovator establishes a construction plan and a time line. Once these preliminary matters are set, the renovation team repairs, rebuilds, and refinishes the property according to plan. For example, the renovation of a Victorian-era house would entail identifying which features could be restored to their former condition, such as doors, floors, and windows. Engineering would address structural concerns. Repairs would be made to anything that was broken, such as repairing or replacing the roof or the plumbing, and refinishing would attempt to reclaim original textures by stripping wood and paint.

Renovators may install central air conditioning during a commercial remodeling of an old building.
Renovators may install central air conditioning during a commercial remodeling of an old building.

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