4 Tips for a Smarter, Smoother Renovation

Did you know that the average renovation almost always costs more than the homeowners intended? They underestimate costs; they overestimate the amount of work their contractors are going to put in; they aren't prepared for delays, accidents and unexpected expenses. If you don't want to join this troubling trend of homeowners getting in over their heads, here are just a few tips for making changes to your home without breaking the bank.

1. Plan Ahead

It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many people go into their remodeling projects with only a vague idea of what they'd like to accomplish. This is one of the biggest reasons why they're left stunned when the final bill is delivered to their hands. If you're serious about saving money with your renovations, put your plans on paper first.

2. Figure Out Your Budget

Don't start knocking out walls until you're sure about what it's going to cost you. If possible, be specific about your expenses. If you're calculating one big attic remodel cost, for example, don't just work out a budget for "materials" and "labor." Dig into the details and come up with separate quotes for plumbing, carpeting, insulating and wallpapering.

3. Talk to Different Contractors

This is another mistake that many first-time renovators make: They think the word of their contractor is gospel. The truth is that contractors are human, and they may have different tastes, methods and motives that influence the opinions they give you. Try to get several professional evaluations for your remodel before you commit to any one contractor in particular.

4. Draft Your Own Contract

Don't listen to anyone who says that there's a "standard" contract for remodeling projects. Builders, stagers and realtors make their own contracts, and these documents are often written to favor their own interests over the customer's. Don't be afraid to ask for changes or revisions if you feel like your contract isn't serving your needs properly. There are websites that will help you figure out what a fair agreement looks like.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you plan your home renovation. Changing things up can be a really fun, exciting experience, but make sure you cross your "t"s and dot your "i"s if you don't want to be left holding a massive bill afterwards.

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