The Best Tips for a Successful Remodeling Project

gray home exterior patio with white trim and path
Photo: Edmund Barr

Any remodeling project can seem overwhelming, but it's guaranteed to go more smoothly if you know a couple of insider tricks. Here are 18 home renovation tips from remodeling professionals.

01 of 18

Plan Ahead

Front of blue house with white accents
Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

Making product selections early can prevent delays later. Develop a plan that clearly defines the goal for your renovation. Your needs and wants for the project should be included in an outline of the work that needs to be completed. Proper planning can also help keep you on budget. "You'll end up making the same decisions, but you'll know what they're going to be and what they're going to cost ahead of time," explains Ridley Wills, founder of The Wills Company, a design-build firm in Nashville.

02 of 18

Set a Home Renovation Budget

Mobile phone and pen on notebook by black coffee at shelf
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

Your home renovation budget should include the costs for building materials, labor, building permits, and decorative finishes. Start by determining the amount you want to spend and then finalize your financing. Remember to reserve at least 10% of your budget for unexpected costs. Request cost estimates from multiple contractors. If your cost estimates exceed your budget, eliminate project elements that are a lower priority.

03 of 18

Consider the Best Way to Finance Home Improvements

Two women discussing financial papers in an office
SDI Productions/Getty Images

A personal loan is one way to help fund your new renovation. First, choose a lender who will listen to your situation and do what's right for you and your family. Next, consider a fixed rate and flexible repayment terms, and set regular monthly payments to allow you to plan your finances. Discover Personal Loans make the process easy with no lengthy process or collateral required, plus they let you borrow up to $35,000 to fund a home repair or remodel project.

04 of 18

Make a Home Renovation Timeline

organize this; to do list; planner
Peter Ardito

Begin planning by selecting a desired start date. You and your contractor will need to calculate the length of time needed for each portion of the project. Determine which part of the remodel needs to be completed first and which parts of the project can be completed concurrently. Make sure your renovation timeline allows time for shipping and delivery of materials as well as time for prepping the project area. The renovation completion date should be set with a few extra days in mind to address unexpected issues.

05 of 18

Remember the Big Picture

kitchen with blue base cabinets and white shelves over sink
Dane Tashima

When taking on remodeling projects, it's important to remember the big picture. Long-term-maintenance, energy-loss, and repair expenses can add up quickly. Make sure you include them in your calculations when comparing prices. Remember to consider every element in your remodeling planning including your wall color, cabinet colors, flooring, and hardware, and how it all ties together.

06 of 18

Find Good Help

white and red house with navy door
Chad R. Mellon

Hire contractors who have more than three years of experience, membership in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), a good record with the Better Business Bureau, and positive customer references. Friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors who have completed similar remodeling projects are great resources, so ask them for their contractor recommendations. Contact your state's consumer protection agency, disciplinary boards, and local court records to make sure the recommended contractor doesn't have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors. Most important, hire a remodeling contractor you trust.

07 of 18

Visit a Job Site

gray home exterior patio with white trim and path
Edmund Barr

When evaluating a remodeling contractor, make sure you visit their current job sites. You'll gain extra insight into their professionalism. Observe how well the employees are working together and if you have a rapport with the renovation team to ensure you can personally work with the company. The best contractors maintain clean and organized work sites, take precautionary measures to ensure safety, and know how to keep a low profile in a neighborhood.

08 of 18

Be a Good Boss

white home exterior with extended portico
Lauren Rubinstein

The most important thing you can do during a remodeling project, other than write checks, is to treat your remodeler well. "The perfect clients are easy to get along with, honest, and have an appreciation for what we do," says Anthony Wilder, founder of Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Maryland. Make sure you're available to supervise the remodeling project. Nothing beats seeing and touching your ongoing renovation in real life or speaking to your contractor in person.

09 of 18

Insist on a Detailed Contract

diy oak top desk office space
David Tsay

If you jump into a remodeling project with an ambiguous contract or no contract at all, you might as well hire an attorney and set a court date right away. "The contract needs the right address, a start date, a completion date, and a detail of what is and is not going to be done," says Rosie Romero, founder of Legacy Custom Builders in Scottsdale, Arizona and host of "Rosie on the House" radio show. You should understand the remodeling contract you'll be signing. The most common type of home remodeling contract is a fixed-price contract, which lists exactly how much a project will cost including all permits, building materials, and labor. This type of contract locks the costs into place, which prevents an unexpected increase in price at a later time.

10 of 18

Know What You’re Getting Into

Living room with patterned rug and blue walls
Helen Norman

Sure, remodeling is exciting. But there's also a lot of frustration as you encounter unexpected snags, delays, and the inevitable inconveniences that come from living in a construction zone. You'll handle the lows better if you know they're coming. A reputable remodeler will condition your expectations before a project begins.

11 of 18

Create a Temporary Kitchen

open kitchen storage
Brie Williams

Speaking of lows, it can't get much worse than living without a kitchen for weeks on end. Minimize inconvenience by setting up a temporary kitchen away from the construction area. Include a refrigerator and microwave oven, so you can continue to make light meals at home. The dining room, family room, or other adjacent area is likely the best candidate for this role.

12 of 18

Pack Away Your Valuables

white built-in bookshelves close-up
Helen Norman

"A remodeling project is going to affect every room in the house," says A. J. Paron-Wildes, general manager of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. "The homeowners need to take down pictures, move vases, and pack away valuables before work begins." While you're at it, take steps to protect your immovable fixtures, including built-in cabinets and chandeliers. Have flooring covered with cardboard sheets if it needs to stay in good condition.

13 of 18

Communicate Effectively

white kitchen with dark blue and wood accents
Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. "Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue," says Jeff Hurst, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and president of Hurst Total Home, Inc., in Kettering, Ohio. "The contractor may not be aware that something is not OK with the owner." Before you start a project, you and your contractor should exchange phone numbers for calling or texting as well as email addresses. Keep in mind that you're probably not the contractor's only client, so calls and emails might not be returned within minutes.

14 of 18

Keep Resale in Mind

renovated neutral-colored living room with pink and blue accent pieces
Lisa Romerein

When it comes to remodeling, there's no shortage of great design advice. Kathie Maughan Francis, principal and founder of Maughan Design, Inc. in Portland, Oregon, says it's important to design with resale in mind if you're planning to stay in your home five years or fewer. "And if you're planning to stay more than seven years, design your room for yourself because the look will be considered dated by the time you put the home on the market," she says.

15 of 18

Pamper Yourself

corner shower with glass doors and blue accent tile
Emily Followill

Unless you're a fan of luxuriating in a bath on a regular basis, skip the whirlpool tub. A vertical spa can achieve close to a full-body massage with its vertically aligned water jets along your shower wall. If you have no time for a bath, think about updating your bathroom with something you'll use and notice every day, such as a luxury shower with dual heads. For cleanliness, convenience, and efficient water usage, choose an electronic faucet to make the most of its practical benefits.

16 of 18

Trade a Built-In Desk for Cabinetry

woman at desk with computer
Edmund Barr

Often tucked into nooks in the kitchen, a planning desk functions as a message center for a busy family. It's a handy spot for handling messages, mail, and bills. "In a kitchen, people insist on putting planning desks in, but no one ever sits there and plans anything," says Michael Cordonnier of Remodeling Designs in Dayton, Ohio. Consider whether you'd benefit more from additional cabinets or a pantry before you put in a desk.

17 of 18

Connect Spaces

open dining room
Edmund Barr Photography

Looking for a home renovation project with a big impact? Opening up walls and hallways is one way to get the most from your remodel and create more livable spaces. To make open floor plans work, each area of your home should carry one or more style elements over into the next room. Paint all adjoining walls and architectural details the same color so as not to disrupt the visual flow.

18 of 18

Don't Share the Mudroom

white and tan mudroom with wooden crates and black boxes
Nathan Schroder Photography

Everyone wants a main-floor laundry room. For smaller homes, an organized laundry room-mudroom combo can be ideal. If it's squeezed into a tiny area near the garage, though, homeowners often are unhappy in the long run, says Bob Near of Lake Country Builders in Excelsior, Minnesota. He advises owners to create separate mudroom and laundry room areas, even if that means moving the laundry room to the basement.

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