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.
Many homeowners consider obtaining a building permit as an unnecessary headache which can slow down the renovation process, but permits are a necessary part of the process in most cases, which can come back to haunt you if not obtained in the first place. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and code inspectors in most jurisdictions can make you rip out non-conforming work if not up to snuff. This can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road. It’s always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed. Check out our DIY home improvement rules for more tips.
Before you decide how extensively to renovate, you need to know what your end goal is for your home. Are you renovating to raise the resale value of your home, or will you be staying put for years to come? Consider the condition of your neighborhood before you begin, and know which renovations are a good return on investment, and which will be considered overdoing it for the area. Having a specific plan in place for your future will help you decide how deep to go with your project. Plus: 11 Important Things to Do When Planning to Sell Your Home

Once you’ve determined a realistic budget, you’ll need to clarify exactly what work can happen and when. You may also need to ask yourself some tough questions about what you really need versus what you simply want.  This will help you identify the true intention of the project and lay out important ground rules. It can even help with scheduling and determining what work happens when. 
Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems — you can't fix it if you don't know it's broken. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don't normally see. They may discover hidden problems that could negatively impact your home's value. Small problems (such as a hidden water leak) can become big, expensive problems quickly; the longer you put off repairs, the more expensive those repairs will be.
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