6 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Home Remodel

Updated January 10, 2022
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There’s more to consider than the color of your new cabinets

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Even if you love your home, there’s always room for improvement, and sometimes that improvement involves a major makeover. Remodeling your home can be exciting when you’re dreaming of your new kitchen, if not a little overwhelming when you have to find new dinner plans while your current kitchen is in transition.

Whatever your goals for the remodel, preparation is key to keeping things as stress-free as possible. Following a few steps before you get started can keep your vision, your budget, and your timeline on track.

1. Define Your Goals and Set Priorities

Whether you have champagne tastes on a beer budget, or you’re just trying to avoid spending all your time and every dime in your savings on your reno, you’re going to need to get clear on your goals for the project. What’s your budget? What parts of the project are most important to you? Will your budget reasonably cover these? If not, could you consider breaking it up into parts and doing a little at a time?

Creating a detailed plan for your remodel will help keep you from becoming overwhelmed, prevent you from blowing your budget, and enable you to avoid any unpleasant surprises along the way (as much as you possibly can). It can also help you realize what you and others in your home prioritize and allow you to get a clearer picture of what you want.

2. Create Detailed Budgets

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Speaking of budgets, if you’re not careful, your remodeling costs can snowball over time. You’ll find that there’s always something new to buy, some new upgrade to make, another side project to be completed.

To keep yourself from getting sidetracked and from allowing the project to balloon into the never-ending story, you have to be realistic about what you can afford and what you can’t. This step is especially important if you’re remodeling multiple rooms, which can cost an average of $47,000 at the midrange but may exceed $200,000 at the high end.

Do your research, talk with contractors, and make sure you understand the cost of every aspect of the project before the first nail is even put into place.

3. Map Out a Timeline

The time your remodeling project will take can vary depending on the scope of what you’re doing. If you’re looking at an extensive remodel, this means a longer timeline and more time you won’t be able to comfortably live in your home.

Of course, things come up, so you can’t expect to follow an exact timeline to the day. However, you’ll want to be firm about what you expect to have done when and stick to it as closely as possible. Otherwise, you’ll always be tempted to change or add something new.

Creating a timeline also means deciding on the best time of year for your particular project. The season can have a big impact on your remodel, so be careful to schedule it accordingly. For instance, the winter can be a great time for building a room addition because working with the frozen soil is often easier. 

4. Find the Right Contractor

Unless you have significant construction experience, you’ll want to hire a pro to help you with your remodel. But you have to be discerning when choosing a contractor. 

Do your homework and never settle for the first bid or the pro with the lowest rates. Instead, to find the right local home remodeling contractor for you, you should ask for recommendations from trusted friends and family and search for reviews online. 

When you find your top candidates, be sure to research their credentials. Ask for documentation on licensing, bonding, and insurance. And don’t forget to ask for referrals and check with outside agencies, such as the BBB. 

Another important “do” for your remodel process is that, before making any agreement, ask for itemized estimates from at least three professionals. Never let any work begin without a signed contract that details every aspect of the project, including an inclusive scope of the work, timelines, and the itemized cost for materials, work, and labor. This agreement should also include a warranty or work guarantee.

5. Make Your Living Arrangements

In many cases, you’re not going to be able to live in the house during a major remodel. If you stay at home during the process, you, your family, and even your pets need to be prepared for all the noise, dust, and little inconveniences that come with a home remodel. 

You’ll need to figure out how your family will accomplish their daily routines in the middle of temporary chaos, particularly if you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom. Will you rely on takeout while your fridge is out of commission, or will you store everything in a garage fridge? Where will you shower? Do you have another bathroom to use?

You’re also going to need to plan for the safety of children and pets during the process. Ensure both your kiddos and your furry friends are either staying somewhere else during the process or are supervised safely out of the way in another part of your home. 

6. Prep the Space

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When you’re getting ready to remodel, you need to decide what to do with all the stuff that’s in the area where you’re working. At the very least, you’ll want to protect large furniture with plastic sheeting. 

But the best bet is to remove anything you can from the space. Otherwise, you not only risk damage to the item, but you’re also probably going to slow the remodel because contractors will have to work around those obstacles.

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