When the excitement of Pinterest browsing for inspiration meets the anxiety of actually executing your home renovation project, how do you know where to start, what to prioritize, and what to expect? Quality Construction is asking the experts to help you get ahead of those construction planning woes. In today’s post, we interview Jess Nero, a professional Interior Decorator and all around home reno expert.

Meet the expert:

Meet Jess Nero. With more than 8 years of experience in retail, interior, and event design, my primary focus has always been the same: How can I help bring your vision to life? I firmly believe that a space should be a reflection of those who live in it. However, not everyone knows precisely how to articulate that style or vision. This is where I come in! 

With a strong background in project management, space planning, visual and interior design, I want to get to know you and translate your vision into reality. By guiding you through the experience of selecting the right combination of textiles, furnishings, accessories, lighting–and even hard-to-find architectural elements–you and I will create a well-curated space that still feels like your own.


Question: What are the first steps to planning for a home renovation project?

Answer: DO YOUR RESEARCH! As exciting as it is to watch HGTV and browse Pinterest for inspiration, you need to really dig into your home’s specifics to understand what you’re looking for, what your budget is, and how much you are ready and willing to take on. Talk to your friends and neighbors who have recently undergone big projects, look into the professionals you want to hire, make sure you have all the information you can about your home’s foundation and structure.

Second, expect the unexpected. Even the most detailed plans get derailed and you need to understand that you learn more and more once construction starts; there are too many unknowns that come to light as construction is under way to plan ahead of. So in your plan, make sure you plan for those gotchas.

Question: If I’m pretty handy and want to save money, how can I approach taking on the project myself to cut the cost of the professionals?

Answer: In the debate of DIY vs. Hire a Pro, I strongly recommend a hybrid approach. Even the most seasoned DIY’er is going to run into issues with your project, so it’s best to get an expert to come in and help with at least the architecture, demolition and planning phases of the project.*

*Check back for a follow up in our Ask the Expert Series on the DIY vs. Pro debate

Question: How does that factor into a tight budget? I don’t want to blow a big percentage on labor that I could do myself.

Answer: When budgeting for any home renovation project, you need to have an “unknown” line item to make sure you can cover any gotcha’s that are discovered along the way. If you forego the professional and take the project on yourself, that “unknown” line item should be at least 50% of your overall budget. Without the help of a professional, you will more than likely make costly mistakes and you’ll quickly find that the money you could have spent on hiring someone is going to redoing or fixing something that went awry.

Question: How can I budget for my project materials vs. project labor, and how is that reflected on a quote from a professional?

Answer: Two answers to this two part question.

First, when budgeting for your materials you need to make your living situation the #1 factor in your decision. Take for example a family with two very active dogs. It wouldn’t make sense to splurge on high end hardwood floors that are going to get scratched up and potentially torn apart. In this case, maybe go for the less expensive flooring option and splurge on the paint you really want!*

*Check back for a follow up in our Ask the Expert Series on material selection for your design esthetic

Second, understanding your quote will vary by who you are working with. Often times your contractor, designer or decorator will factor in the cost of your materials up front and offer you one big quote, some will line item things out, and some may provide a mix of both. Make sure you ask plenty of clarifying questions if anything is unclear.

Coming up on Ask the Expert…Interior Decorator:

  • DYI vs. Pro vs. Hybrid – what steps of a home renovation MUST HAVE a professionals, and what are some of the steps you can go alone?

  • Timeless vs. Trendy Renovations – balance the “what’s hot now” with the “how can I make sure I’m not sinking money into something I’ll want to change every 2 years”

  • Designing for YOUR home – how to know what materials, colors and esthetic is right for you, and how to ensure your vision is carried out when working with a pro

Where to find our expert:

Ready to take the next step for your project?
Contact us today.