Home improvement projects can easily develop into gigantic headaches for the unprepared homeowner. There are some basic steps you can take during the early stages of any such project to minimize the trouble it causes you. As with so many things in life, good preparation is vital to a smooth and successful home improvement.
The first thing you need to do when you're considering any home improvement project is to get a good idea of what it will entail. You should have a step-by-step plan that clearly lays out what needs to be done to complete your project. If it takes more than one sentence to describe a step, you need to break it down further. Write your plan down. Hang onto any notes that you made while preparing it, too. This documentation can help you describe your project to contractors - or even just jog your memory once work is underway!
Speaking of contractors, you need to make an honest estimate of your own home improvement resources and decide if your project will require professional help. You should factor in not only your own skills, but also the amount of time you have available. Sometimes a relatively simple project is still too time-intensive for you to handle yourself. If you decide that you need a contractor, take the time to research your options. You want to deal with a reliable professional, so make sure that anyone you hire is licensed, insured, and well-recommended by other homeowners.
While you are still in the planning phase of your home improvement project, remember to cover your legal bases. Many home improvements require permits from your local government, or even some kind of design review process. Plumbing or electrical work that involves more than replacing fixtures and fittings will usually require inspection and approval. Any addition that adds enclosed square footage to your home will almost certainly require a permit. Major outdoor renovations, such as pools and decks, may require approval from the city or from (if you have one) your neighborhood homeowner's association.
If your project is shaping up into a major undertaking, it might be smart to consider relocating your family while work proceeds. As you can imagine, living in a construction zone is tremendously inconvenient for you. You should also be aware that your presence is going to slow down contractors and other professionals trying to work on your house. The expense and inconvenience involved in moving out of your house will be well worth it if your project proceeds quickly and smoothly.
You need to keep as much flexibility in your schedule as possible when it comes to home improvements. The larger your project is, the easier it is for it to fall behind schedule. A major renovation is a delicate ballet involving the services of many different professionals. Even very modest projects can uncover new issues that are impossible to plan ahead for. When you estimate how long your project will take, be as generous as possible. You should add 10 to 25 percent to any construction schedule to account for unexpected developments.
If you take the time to make these sorts of preparations before you dive into a home improvement project, it will go as smoothly as possible. Ideally, you'll never know just how much trouble you've saved yourself from by planning ahead. Completing a home improvement project always feels good, but you'll find it feels especially satisfying if you've avoided some of the potential pitfalls along the way.