Have you stared at the linoleum tile in your kitchen long enough? What about that outdated sink in your bathroom? If something in your house is bugging you, it’s time for a home improvement project.
Deciding to renovate your house can be exciting — and scary! Figuring out how to get started may feel overwhelming. Whether your project is big or small, there are a few things you should remember while you’re working. Check out these eight tips that can lead to a great new look for your home.
1. Focus on Financing
Do you dream of living room skylights to watch the meteor showers? Making big plans is fun — paying for them is something different. Before you start a project, take a good look at your finances.
Are you just starting to save money for a project? If so, a no-fees debit card can be a step in the right direction. There’s typically no minimum balance requirement, so the bank won’t charge you if your balance drops too low. It’s an easy way to start your project fund.
For really big projects, though, consider getting a loan instead of fronting the cash. Talk with your bank about home equity loans, contractor loans, or quick cash loans.
2. Build a Budget
Having enough money to cover your project is only part of the money battle. You must figure out how you’re going to spend it. It’s tempting to buy up all the cute kitchen cabinet pulls. But that may leave you without enough money for the semi-gloss paint you need.
So take time to build your budget. There’s a lot to consider: materials, design, construction, and permits. Identify your “must-haves,” and pinpoint the things that “would be nice.” Set a spending minimum and maximum for each category. Then stick to the budget as much as you can.
3. Plan It Out
You probably see the finished product in your head before you even start the project. That’s great! Pin that picture up on the wall of your brain. You’ll need a plan to make it real.
To make a detailed project plan, start with a timeline and build in a little wiggle room. Map out what you need to tackle first, second, and third. A list stops you from taking tasks out of order. That way your finished project looks like the picture in your head — not a Pinterest “Nailed It!” fiasco.
4. Choose Quality Materials
You’ve heard it thousands of times. If a job is worth it, do it well. Home improvement falls into that category, and so do the materials you use.
Selecting quality supplies gives you two benefits. First, your renovations will last longer and look better. Second, they increase the value of your home. Think about it, would you put a rusty muffler on a brand-new Porsche?
Buying quality materials is important, but that doesn’t mean you must pay the highest prices. Even if you’re installing marble countertops or putting in hardwood floors, shop for the best price. Depending on how big your project is, you may be able to find bulk or wholesale pricing. Look around for the most attractive deals.
5. Remember Your Permits
With smaller renovations — like switching out a sink or cabinet doors — you can start at any time. You’re not making structural changes to your home. Once you plan and find your materials, go ahead and dive in.
What about larger projects? If you’re considering any type of construction, like adding a back deck, you’ll need a permit, says Nolo. Some states require permits for projects that cost more than a certain amount. Check with your city before you get started. If you don’t, you may be forced to pay a big fine or nix your project.
6. Consider Some Upgrades
If you’re already knee-deep in a project, think about any upgrades you can do at the same time. Taking care of two “fixes” could save you money and work in the future. Another cosmetic upgrade, like fresh paint, is nice. Consider one that can increase your home’s value, instead.
For example, if you’re cutting drywall, take a good look at your insulation. With electrical work, check out whether you could benefit from new panels or more outlets. These types of upgrades can give you two things — a boost to your home’s price tag and utility bill savings.
7. Expect the Unexpected
Despite your best-laid plans or detailed timeline, sometimes things just go wrong. Did you find termite damage (like this) when you pulled out old cabinets? Perhaps the hardwood flooring you ordered didn’t show up. Don’t stress, and don’t blame yourself. You can’t control everything.
Delays and added problems are never fun. You can minimize their impact, though. Build a few extra days into your plan so you won’t get too behind. Put some padding in your budget, as well, to absorb any unforeseen expenses. Just remember a few bumps in the road won’t keep you from a successful project.
8. Consider a Pro
Is your project getting bigger than you expected? Do you need construction, plumbing, or electrical skills you don’t have? In that case, consider hiring a professional. Bringing in an expert can help you avoid spending too much time or money on your renovation.
Ask your neighbors and friends for contractor recommendations, but don’t simply hire the one who offers you the best price. There are lots of things to consider. Are they licensed and insured? Do they have experience with your type of project? Be sure you’re happy with the answers before you start working with them.
Dreaming up a home improvement project can be thrilling. You might see the finished product in your mind’s eye before you even start. If you follow these eight tips, you’ll make the process easier for yourself. Then you’ll have countless pics of the finished product to post and share.