The old adage that you only get one shot at a first impression is true. So, make the interior of you home shine from the moment someone walks through the door. For less than $400, hire a cleaning service for a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing. Even if you clean your home regularly, there are nooks and crannies that you may miss or overlook. Let a cleaning service do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.
The temporary chaos of a home under renovation can be stressful at the best of times for the human occupants of the house, let alone the four-legged family members. When doing a house remodel, consider the safety and care of your pets, which could mean having a family member or friend pet-sit while the bulk of the work is getting done. This is especially true when the doors will often be open to bring tools and materials in and out.
Before you enter into a home improvement contract, the contractor must inform you of all required building or construction permits. If the contractor is doing general construction work, such as siding, insulation, and roofing, on one or two-family homes and will be obtaining the building permits, the contractor must have a Dwelling Contractor Certification and a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification from the Department of Safety and Professional Services, (608) 266-2112.
Invite a realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area; a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100, and in an hour they can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggested improvements, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.
I’ll spell out the survey findings below, but if you are considering giving the crew a tip, I would first talk to the owner of the company to determine if tips are allowed. You don’t want to put the workers in a difficult situation.  If tips are not allowed, but you still feel strongly about the work, you could write a letter to the company owner praising their work, and/or you could write a positive online review that spells out that great experience. This written proof will likely be appreciated just as much as a tip and may have a much longer lasting effect.
Whether you decide to hire a general contractor or individual subcontractors for the job, it’s important to find the right team to complete your home renovation. While word-of-mouth recommendations from friends might be enough for some, you may also consider doing a full-blown check on your contractor—looking into their license, certificate of insurance, lien history, bond number, and certification—to  ensure you’re dealing with a professional who is in good financial standing. Equally important is finding a contractor you get along with and who understands your vision, so it can be helpful to have an interview or preliminary discussion before the formal engagement of services. 
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Save energy bill greenbacks by going green with a solar water heater. The installed price can cost up to $5,000, but these systems can slash your hot water bills by as much as 80 percent and attract energy-conscious homebuyers should you decide to sell. Install a solar water heater where there's unobstructed southern exposure and you'll have savings made in the shade.

Take the time to chat with friends, family, and neighbors about the renovation work they have done, and the challenges they have faced during the process. Having a wealth of information from homeowners who have been in your shoes can be invaluable in the planning process, and this information may alter your end plan. Check out our 17 Smarter Renovation and Home Improvement Tips to get started.
Replacing the cracked concrete surfaces around your home can cost a small fortune. But for a fraction of that cost, concrete can be resurfaced in a multitude of colors and finishes. Consider adding a cobblestone finish to your driveway, a brick look to an old walkway or a slate finish around the pool or patio. Whichever texture you choose, it will be a huge improvement over standard concrete and potential homebuyers will really take notice.
If your home is lacking plumbing shut-off valves in the area you are working on, you may have to shut the water off at the main valve, leaving your home without access to running water. Plan ahead and place containers of water in the fridge for drinking, on the counter for cooking and have buckets of water available to flush the toilet. An easy way to do this is to fill the bathtub with water and place a bucket nearby to pour into the toilet bowl.
There has yet to be a home renovation that has been silky smooth, without a single snag or snafu, so be prepared for days when things just aren't going right. It’s natural to want everything to go perfectly according to plan, but with so many products and people involved, it’s unlikely that everything will turn out exactly how you imagined, which can be frustrating and sometimes even costly. 
Learning which items to spend your money on goes hand-in-hand with making a realistic budget and determining a sensible scope of work. The earlier you can make this determination, the more likely you will stay on track with costs. Think about which items you will use most frequently, as these are products that might be worth the higher price-tag. If you're on a tight budget, you might want to save on cosmetic finishings, as these items can be easily changed with time.
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