Erin Doman on September 25, 2015 5 Comments Home improvement projects can be stressful, time consuming and expensive. With proper planning, you can lessen the blow and get the most out of your construction project. Although there will be certain things you’ll want to keep in mind that are specific to the particular house improvement you are planning, there are others that are helpful to all projects. Keeping these things in mind can help to reduce your stress and make the process as enjoyable as possible. Here are just a few valuable tips that can be helpful as you are planning and developing your project. 1. Plan Your Project Well No matter how simple you think your project will be, it is always a good idea to plan it out ahead of time. This means taking into consideration things like what you want to create, how it is going to be completed, who is going to do which part, how much you are willing to spend, and how long it should all take. This should be a living plan, meaning that you should go back and make revisions as necessary to be sure you stay on track. If you are going to be completing any major construction projects on your own, be sure to include a plan of measurements, materials, tools, and any other things that you might need to keep track of. When it comes to planning major construction projects, having exact measurements is crucial. 2. Set Realistic Goals Are you trying to redesign an entire bathroom or are you just planning on replacing the fixtures for now? It’s easy to start small and end up with a monster of a project that has you ripping out pipes and cabinets and one which will take months to complete instead of a weekend. Be clear about what you really need and want to accomplish at this point in time. 3. Budgeting This is sometimes the hardest area in which to be realistic. Don’t let that bathroom project that started off being about fixtures end up being a complete reconstruction. The budget requirements will obviously be quite different between these two extremes so you need to rein yourself in if you want to limit your spending. 4. Financial Management How is this different than budgeting? This is where you keep track of your spending. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of just spending a few dollars more here and there. But those small expenses can add up to a lot of extra spending that you don’t even realize you’ve done until you find yourself way past your budget. To keep from ending up in the position of lacking the funds for your normal monthly expenses, record all of your expenditures so that you can nip extras in the bud if need be. 5. Schedule a Timeline Part of that planning is to figure out what to do first. If you have a lot of projects in mind, pick the ones to start with that make sense for the current season. If you are heading into cold, hot or rainy season, you should take that into consideration before you begin as well. Within the project itself, consider what makes sense to tackle first, such as painting before or after remodeling. You might want to plan the order in terms of what has to be finished as soon as possible in order to be used–such as a toilet installation or new lighting–as opposed to what is merely aesthetic. This will prevent any issues in your daily routines in case you run into an emergency that will take your time away from the project. 6. Decide Whether or Not to DIY This can be another difficult place in which to make a sensible decision. It is extremely important that you are realistic about your abilities, your available time and your interest. If you don’t love doing home improvement, don’t do it. If you don’t really have the time or interest, it’s best not to get started. Even if you think it would be cheaper to do it yourself, if you make a mistake or don’t do it correctly, it certainly won’t be. Also consider if you could be making more money in that time doing something else than you would pay a professional to do it. 7. Cheaper Materials Aren’t Always Cost Effective Using cheaper materials will not always save you money in the long run. Make sure that you are using products that are durable and will last. Remember that whatever you do should be adding value to your home. That being said, do check for sales and look online to find quality products that are being offered for a good price. 8. Hire the Right Professionals If you do decide to use someone else to complete your project, be sure that they have the proper experience and licensing. Sit down and have a consultation with them first to be sure that you like their designs, what they have to say and that you like them personally. You don’t want to have someone working in your home that you can’t get along well with. There are also plenty of resources online that you can use to research your particular contractor to make sure that person is trustworthy and does great work. These resources will usually tell you if anyone has ever had a significant problem with the contractor, which can save you headache later on. 9. Think About Energy Savings As long as you are doing a remodel, try to include changes that will continue saving you money. Examples of these are low-flow toilets, energy saving appliances and adding insulation. Other things you can do to save energy include changing the type of window coverings you have or checking that air and heating ducts are in good shape. Outdated appliances typically use up a lot more energy than they really need to, so an update can ultimately save you a lot of money. 10. Continue Revisiting Your Plan, Budget and Timing Creating your plan and budget is just the first step. House improvement projects have a way of taking on a life of their own. In addition to consciously deciding to change your plan along the way, changes may be forced upon you. For example, when putting in those new fixtures in the bathroom, you may find that there is piping that needs to be replaced. Or you may have budgeted for using a certain material only to find the cost has gone up. Be sure to go back and revise your plan, budget and timeline to compensate for any of these inevitable setbacks. Besides these tips, there are two general things to keep in mind during your home improvement project. One is to ensure that whatever you are doing is in line with the design and function that you want to have in your home. The other thing to keep in mind is that, ideally, the additions to your house enhance rather than detract from the value of your home. Even if you think you will never want to sell your home, it’s just smart to do what you can to increase its value. This can come in handy as well if you decide to take out a second mortgage or use it as collateral for a loan.