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.

What are the benefits of renovating your house?

Renovating a house can have several benefits, including

  1. Increased property value: Updating a house can increase its market value, making it more attractive to potential buyers.
  2. Improved functionality: Renovations can make a home more functional and efficient, by creating additional space or fixing outdated systems.
  3. Modernization: Renovations can bring a home up to date with current design and technology trends, making it more comfortable and enjoyable to live in.
  4. Energy efficiency: Updating a home’s insulation, windows, and HVAC systems can make it more energy efficient, reducing utility bills and helping to protect the environment.
  5. Personal satisfaction: Renovating a home can be a source of personal satisfaction and pride, allowing homeowners to create a space that reflects their style and values.

-Tomas from Not A Paper House

What are the benefits of hiring a professional painter for a home renovation project, and what should you look for when selecting a painter?

Hiring a professional painter for a home renovation project can bring numerous benefits. Firstly, professional painters have the skills, experience, and tools to deliver high-quality work that meets your expectations. They can also provide guidance on color selection, paint types, and finishes, ensuring that your home looks its best.

Professional painters can also save you time and effort. Painting can be time-consuming and physically demanding. Hiring a professional frees you up to focus on other aspects of your renovation project (or relax and enjoy your time).

When selecting a painter, look for someone licensed, insured, and experienced in the work you require. They should also be able to provide references and a portfolio of previous work to demonstrate their capabilities. It is also important to obtain a written estimate detailing the scope of work, timeline, and project cost. Finally, consider the painter’s communication skills and professionalism to ensure that you have a positive and stress-free experience.

-Adam B. from Robinson Painting of Colorado

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

What’s your best advice for planning a home renovation for the first time?

There are many factors concerning the home renovation. For me, the most important thing you need to consider is timing. Before going into the details of a home renovation plan, you’ll need to decide the best time to do it. What is the weather like in your area at that time? Do you have enough financially? Does remodeling/rebuilding your house affect the living space of your family? After considering all the initial factors, you can then go ahead with the planning process.

– Jon from Green House Center

My advice for properly planning a home renovation for the first time that will go smoothly and get the results you want is to do your proper research and be prepared.

The first step in this process should be setting a realistic budget that has set aside enough money for the project and for unexpected costs that may pop up during the process.

After setting your budget, you can begin researching for ideas and important information, such as the materials and the types of permits required for the project. As well as what kind of contractors you’ll need to hire. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get professional advice from an architect, an interior designer, or a professional contractor to help plan your home renovation. If hiring a contractor, make sure that they are licensed, insured, and have references you can check with.

So, while committing to a home renovation for the first time is daunting, just remember that as long as you do the proper research and planning, tackling a home renovation project can be a fun and rewarding experience. Just remember to stay organized and on top of things to ensure that everything is going according to plan during the entire process. With dedication and hard work, you will have the home of your dreams in the end!

Matt McWilliams from Expert Home Report

What are the important elements of a kitchen renovation? 

As the kitchen continues to transform into a multifunctional space, so has the traditional kitchen island. Recent trends have seen an explosion of the kitchen island becoming more than just a worktop to prepare meals and wash dishes but a full-fledged multi-purpose dining area. 

When considering this idea, several factors must be included in any design. Ask yourself the following: what is the island’s purpose? Will my design disrupt the day-to-day workflow of the kitchen? Most importantly, choose the best dining arrangement for your family. Kitchen eating areas and gathering spaces are being reimagined; one of the more popular designs circulating recently is two-sided seating off of an island, however with the weight of kitchen countertops while allowing free floating space for chairs with ample legroom construction techniques must be applied for a safe and secure environment. Kitchen designers now have the ability to design these floating spaces with industry-designed brackets specifically manufactured to support the weight of floating stone countertops. 

Currently, overhangs for kitchen islands can extend out to 24″ with countertop brackets without using posts for support. This has become a game changer for smaller kitchens where consumers are attempting to get maximum productivity of the space in the home. Replacing the dining room and relocating to the kitchen allows for traditional dining rooms to be converted into a playroom, office space, or even a home gym. If you consider a kitchen renovation and space is a premium, perhaps think out of the box and consider relocating your traditional dining room area to the kitchen.

– Joe Gaynor from The Original Granite Bracket

How do home renovations impact your home insurance?

DIY home renovation projects can be a great way to save money. However, did you know that they can affect your home insurance rates as well? Some home renovations may improve your rates, while some may make them higher.

Some examples of home renovations that increase your insurance rates are kitchen renovation, adding a bathroom, a home office, or a sunroom. These renovations can increase the value of your house, therefore requiring more coverage.

On the other hand, if you add solar panels to your sunroom, you might just get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance.

Thus, it would be best to talk to your independent insurance agent about whether you should increase your coverage or not before beginning the renovation project. You may not realize how much the renovation is increasing the value of your house. It could leave you uninsured in the middle of the project if you don’t increase it beforehand. Your independent insurance agent has a comprehensive knowledge of your insurance policy and can assist you promptly.

Jordan Greer from G&G Independent Insurance

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 are the advantages and disadvantages of an open-plan design in small houses

Open-plan design in small houses can have both advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages are:

1. More natural light: Open-plan designs allow more natural light to enter the house, making it feel brighter and more spacious.

2. Better use of space: An open-plan design allows for more efficient use of space, as multiple rooms can be combined into one, think open kitchen, dining, and family rooms.

3. Better social interaction: An open-plan design allows for better social interaction, as family members can interact while cooking, eating, and watching TV.

The disadvantages are:

1. Lack of privacy: An open-plan design reduces privacy, making it harder to find a quiet place to work or have alone time. There always seems to be a TV or kids playing.

2. Difficult to decorate: Decorating an open-plan space can be challenging as the design often requires coordinating different elements. There isn’t always a clear demarcation of space – everything flows from one space to the next.

3. Sensory pollution: An open-plan design may lead to increased noise, as sounds from one area can easily travel to another. The same goes for cooking odors. If you’re cooking and the kitchen is open to the other spaces. The salmon you’re making for dinner will waft into the other spaces and linger.

In conclusion, an open-plan design in a small house can offer bright and spacious living spaces, but it can also compromise privacy and increase noise levels and common odors. When considering an open-plan design, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and determine what works best for your lifestyle and needs.
– Michael Helwig from Michael Helwig Interiors

Advice for planning a house design

When planning a new house design, it’s important to consider both your lifestyle and your budget. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Determine your needs to create your designed program: Consider how you want to use each room and what functions it should serve. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Do you want a home office or a dedicated media, room, target square footage, elevation style, etc?
  2. Consider your budget: Establish it before you begin and stick to it. Decide what you can afford to spend on each room, and allocate funds accordingly.
  3. Research design styles: Browse online and in magazines to find design styles that interest you. This will help you create a design that reflects your personal taste and style.
  4. Envision a floor plan and how you want it to function and flow to your lifestyle and where you want impactful rooms and areas to be located.
  5. Think about lighting: Good lighting is important for any room, and it can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your home. Consider natural light sources and think about how you want to use artificial lighting to enhance your design.

– Ryan Redman and Randy Newton from JayMarc Homes

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.