Top 10 tips for homeowners on home improvement jobs

  1. Tackle the quick projects that are the most timely. It will save you money immediately or prevent serious trouble in the future.
  2. Choose improvements that add the most value to your home.
  3. Buy quality material. You get what you pay for.
  4. Do not avoid permits. Find out what licenses and permits you need and make sure you have them. If you perform work without a permit and something serious happens, your homeowners insurance will not cover it.
  5. Create a realistic budget. Remember, while you may have carefully calculated materials, labor and miscellaneous costs, projects have an uncanny tendency to go over budget, especially if you are opening up walls.
  6. If you are hiring someone to do the work for you, do your research. Ask friends, neighbors, and research online. When you settle on someone meet with them in person and cross check the references they give you.
  7. Check out their insurance.
  8. Ask the right questions. Don’t exclusively focus on time and material cost, figure out who you are working with and how they will react in certain situations.
  9. Review contracts very carefully — they are there to protect both you and the contractor. Pay attention to details and make sure the expectations for change orders, payment, timeline and responsibilities are clearly laid out. If they are not in the contract, they do not exist.
  10. Communicate! If the project runs over the course of days, weeks or months make sure everyone is on the same page about the frequency of communication that is expected, availability, and responsibility.
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