The New Year brings with it an endless glimpse at possibility. One of the grand privileges of being a homeowner is the opportunity to make it your very own. Perhaps you dream of a new kitchen or living room. Maybe now is the time to take the leap—with a few careful calculations.

The first step of the remodeling process is establishing a budget. Of course, a budget is only as firm as the person who manages it. Stick to it. Set realistic expectations for costs and quality. Some planners suggest doing the design process first. By picking out the appliances and fixtures, you might better define your budget and avoid hasty decisions down the road. Be sure to budget for unexpected expenses. If something surprises you with additional cost, this safety net might ease the shock.

To stay within your budget, there may be projects you’ll need to tackle yourself. But be realistic about you or your spouse’s skill level. Just because it looks easy on Pinterest doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be better handled by a professional. When hiring a contractor, verify that the contractor is licensed, insured, and familiar with building costs in your area. You should also have a clearly defined contract with written expectations and deadlines.

When the remodelers come in, treat them well. Show appreciation and courtesy. Kindness goes a long way. If something isn’t going smoothly in the remodel process, be calm and communicate the issue.

Protect your interior. Move vases, lamps, pictures, and anything breakable. If it’s built-in, like a chandelier, take steps to protect it. This includes flooring, which should be covered with cardboard sheets. Don’t just think about the room under renovation. Surrounding rooms should be protected as well.

How to Reduce the Cost to Remodel

  • Find ways to refinish or reuse an existing fixture. If you can refinish your tile and keep your bathtub, you will save big. As a bonus, your bathroom won’t be inaccessible for weeks.
  • Don’t move your plumbing if you can avoid it. There are substantial extra costs just to move a sink.
  • Some rooms only need a simple facelift and a coat of paint. Does yours?
  • Consider how labor intensive certain tasks are, such as kitchen backsplash tile, and see if another solution will give the same result.
  • Don’t move windows unless you need to.

Price Isn’t Everything

  • Look at quality and value. Cheap materials may wear down more quickly.
  • “Green” products are often more efficient and reduce utility bills.
  • Buy faucets with replaceable parts. Otherwise you’ll need to replace the entire thing if something breaks.

If you could remodel any room in your home, what would it be?

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