Remodeling your home is often costly, but it's in your power to make it less costly than it otherwise would be. Here are a few tips:
- Live in the house first. This permits you to get a feel for how you'll want to use various spaces.
- Think hard, plan carefully, and stick by your plan as much as possible. If you keep changing your mind or tweaking your plans, you'll likely make the project take longer and cost more -- plus, you'll aggravate your contractor. Once she's got the plumbing set for your dishwasher in one spot, it's best not to start imagining it in another spot.
- Don't skimp on insulation. Overdoing it can cause mold, but underdoing it will cost you in heating and cooling expenses. Insulation even decreases noise.
- Be prepared to learn some surprising things about your house. It may have crooked walls that need to be straightened out before a shower is installed, for example. Or its uneven floors might require extra work for the hardwood installers or tile layers. Ask questions -- you'll learn a lot and may be pointing out something important that would otherwise be overlooked.
- Don't be too trendy. Some new home furnishings and fixtures will look dated in short order.
- Think twice before deciding to do it all yourself. Yes, the nice folks at Home Depot
(NYSE:HD)or Lowe's (NYSE:LOW)will help you get all you need. But sometimes it's more cost-effective to hire a pro. (Read "Sometimes You Need a Pro.")
- Expect a mess. Remodeling usually produces large amounts of dust, among other things. Protect your belongings. Even a yard or landscaping can get damaged by construction materials.
- Expect the job to cost more than you planned. So put aside 10% to 20% more than you expect to spend. If you don't need it, great. If you do, you're covered.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Home Depot.