What You Should Know Before Starting a Home Improvement Project

In this article

Home improvement projects have been rising for years, and this growth shows no signs of stopping. 2022 shows 2% to 4% growth in various home improvement sectors. Many of these projects, including remodeling a kitchen or replacing a roof, increase your home’s value. Before you dive in, be aware that with this growth, renovation scams are also high, with 16,000 reports in 2021. Roofing scams are the most common home improvement scams (15% of all reports in 2015). 

People often wonder when they should DIY home projects versus hiring a contractor. Aside from weighing time versus money, you should avoid DIY projects where mistakes are incredibly costly. You should leave anything with electrical, plumbing, or HVAC for a professional to handle.

Before starting your home improvement project

Before you dive into your home improvement project, you’ll want to have a plan. By doing your research in advance, you’ll save time and money:

Think long-term

Before you hire a pro or pick up a hammer, it’s important to think about the long-term impact these renovations will have on your home. Sure, you’ll want to make renovations that you and your family will love. It’s equally important that you also plan your renovations around the future resale value of your house. Do your research on the ROI of your renovations before you start.

Another piece to consider is how the craftsmanship of the renovation work will impact the resale of your home. Shotty flooring, plumbing, and electrical work can cause your home to fail future home inspections if you choose to sell. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to hire a pro for big jobs.

Financial plan

Have a budget in mind. This budget should include a 15% contingency fund if something goes wrong. To make an educated budget, you’ll want to plan potential costs for tools and materials.

Estimating a project cost

Estimating costs for a construction project can be a difficult and challenging task, but it is essential to the success of the project.

Accurate cost estimates are necessary to ensure that the project stays within budget and to avoid any potential cost overruns. To accurately estimate construction project costs, it is important to gather data, use cost estimating software, account for labor costs, include overhead costs, estimate a contingency budget, and revisit the estimate regularly. Additionally, it is beneficial to hire a cost estimator for expert guidance and advice.

The good news is that 1build estimating software and its team of on-demand estimators can help you accurately estimate the cost of a construction project and ensure that it stays within budget.

– Dmitry Alexin from 1build

Renovation/improvement plan

A renovation plan will save you time and money on any DIY home project. Planning may mean ensuring your hardware store has enough materials for you on a small job. On a large job, you’ll want to plan each step thoroughly. Create a to-do list, and draw out the dimensions on paper. 

Basic considerations for a plumbing project

A residential plumbing inspection is the best way to catch potential issues before it’s too late. This will help prevent costly repairs and potential problems from happening in the first place. Having a professional inspect your home’s plumbing system is also beneficial for avoiding minor leaks and clogs from damaging your valuable possessions and posing health hazards. A comprehensive plumbing inspection should ideally be done every two years. But regular inspections should happen more frequently if your plumbing or property is older.

A comprehensive plumbing inspection will generally include checking the water pressure and ensuring the water system is watertight. Another part includes checking pipes, valves, faucets, toilets, water heaters and drains for any damage or leaks. The walls and ceilings of your home will be checked for any water stains. Your water lines will be looked at to ensure that they are in the correct location and at the right height, as well as to check the drainage line to ensure it does not have any corrosion or damage. Most professional plumbing companies will take photos and detailed notes as a record of anything found during the inspection. The inspectors will share their findings, take any immediate action that is necessary upon approval, and may provide other recommendations to the homeowner.

Joslynn Garcia from Christian Brothers

Top 5 considerations (& tips) for your home renovation

1. Materials

Research and compare building materials. Make sure you have extra stock in case of issues/damage. Budget extra money in case of supply problems and more expensive materials are the only alternative.

2. Tools

Determine ALL tools needed for the job. Be sure to factor in function and quality. Larger, more expensive machinery can often be rented. Remember to charge batteries when not in use.

3. Permits

Look into the requirements for attaining permits applicable to your project. Pay close attention and learn what you can from the inspector to possibly avoid a future problem. Don’t do extra work before inspection, as it might not get approved.

4. Schedule

Organize your time efficiently. Determine the right order of jobs and have other tasks planned to complete in between work that needs time to dry, cure, etc. Plan and time your inspections to avoid wasted workdays.

5. Goal

Keep an overall goal in mind. Are you renovating to let in more light? Improving the flow of the living space? Knowing your main goal will help keep all decisions in alignment with what you ultimately want to achieve.

Patrick Cresswell from MEGAPRO

During your home improvement project 

A home improvement project can be an adventure.

What to expect 

Your home project is going to kick up a lot of dust and a lot of noise. You’ll find many surprises — some of which will be costly. Some aspects of the job may drag on or present annoying challenges, but you will get past them and eventually celebrate a well-done job.

Managing a renovation mess better

Renovations can be a messy and chaotic process, but there are steps you can take to minimize the renovation mess and disruption to your daily life.

  1. Designate a specific area for storing all your tools and materials. Keeping everything in one clearly defined area will help keep the rest of your home clutter-free.
  2. Dedicate a day or, at least a few hours a week, to tidying and disposing of waste so that there’s no chance of large piles of garbage and junk accumulating. 
  3. Cover your floors and furniture with drop cloths to prevent dust and rubble from spreading throughout your home. It’s also a good idea to always have bin bags and a dustpan & brush close by to be able to immediately clean up any mess as it occurs.
  4. Staying organized and keeping track of your renovation is always the best way to avoid any chaos and keep your home safe and tidy. Try to schedule work so that there’s plenty of space for people to be able to work safely and allow enough time for cleaning after each step of the renovation.
  5. Communicate with your builders and make sure they are cleaning up after themselves. A little bit of extra effort on their part can go a long way in keeping the renovation mess to a minimum.

By following these tips, you can help manage the mess during a renovation and keep your home as organized and tidy as possible.

– Christine from Little House On The Corner

Most useful DIY home improvement tool to own?

If you are a new DIYer, the amount of tools and products available can be extremely overwhelming. Not to mention, pricey. You can get by with a lot of hand tools for a while, but when you’re ready to tackle larger projects, a circular saw will be your best friend. Not only can it make long cuts to substitute a table saw, but it also works well for angled cuts, substituting for a miter saw as well. It does have limitations, and a guide rail will be important, but it is an extremely versatile tool for the beginner DIYer! 

Make sure you invest in a reputable brand and quality blades for the cleanest and most professional cuts.

– Sarah Symonds from Grace In My Space

Best tips to turn a plain concrete patio into a beautiful and relaxing comfort zone

Of course, using an acid stain to give concrete a natural stone look is a no-brainer. But it’s important to remember that the best tip is to choose colors that will enhance your surroundings rather than overpower them. Instead of trying to match the siding, try blending in colors from the trim, doors, or roof. If installing a new patio, consider having the contractor use a texture mat to simulate real stone. Scoring a border and staining the border a different color helps to frame and make the patio look richer.

Beyond coloring the concrete, ensuring planters or flower beds are along the edge but not on the patio itself will save you from dealing with water spots and discolorations. Choosing patio furniture that is comfortable, like exterior patio recliners, is a great choice for a relaxing space. Going further and building a roof over it with ceiling fans and then adding screened walls keeps the bugs out and turns it into an additional living space while keeping it an enjoyable outdoor space.

– Earl from Concrete Camouflage

What to do if your contractor doesn’t finish a project

If your home improvement contractor leaves the job unfinished and doesn’t have a reasonable excuse, you’ll have to call them back. If they haven’t fulfilled their contract, speak with them and see if you can find a solution. If they’re ghosting you, tap their bond or hire an attorney.

You ran out of money; now what?

This predicament happens more often than people realize. Once you run out of money, your project will stop. You can postpone the work if it’s non-essential, or you can try to secure a short-term line of credit. There are also homeowner-specific loans you can get to help fund your project.

After renovating

You can expect your home’s value to increase. This result is called the ROI – return on investment. The best renovations for this are interior remodeling projects — specifically in the kitchen and bathroom, basement, curbside, garage doors, home sidings, and roof.  

Home improvements are on the rise and can provide a great ROI. If you go in with a budget and a plan, you’ll see the job through to completion. Not all renovations are DIY-friendly, and home improvement contractors can help. That being said, scams have been rising, so ensure the professional you’ve hired has a proven track record and is licensed, bonded, and insured.