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home_renovation_tipsNew year, new you, right? Sure! If you’re like most people, the new year is chock-full of health- and wellness-related resolutions—but why stop there? Your home could use some improvements in the new year too. If a major home improvement is on your list of resolutions, it pays to have your plans established before you get started. So, to avoid your renovations becoming irritations, here are some budgeting and organizational guidelines to help you get where you’re going:

1. Prioritize by necessity.
It’s important to tackle any serious home maintenance problems before an aesthetic remodel begins. If you plan to renovate an entire space, practical improvements will be handled as construction moves forward. But, if your project is strictly design-based, running into overlooked structural problems will mean additional costs.

2. Weigh the costs of hiring a pro.
Depending on the scope of your project, hiring a professional is a good idea. If you’re repainting an accent wall, consider it DIY-able. But, with projects like additions and remodels, or major installations (HVAC, plumbing or new lighting) a pro is an absolute must. A professional will work according to deadlines, save you money on materials and avoid major mistakes that will drastically change the timeline (and cost) of your renovation.

3. Time the project realistically.

If you need a contractor, it’s important to book a job several months in advance (this especially applies to local remodeling contractors). Before you book a contractor, make sure you understand your project’s timeline. Lofty expectations for a completion date will make your remodel difficult for everyone involved.

4. Check on permits.
Codes vary from city-to-city, so investigating local ordinances is extremely important for your renovation timeline. Permits are not free–budget accordingly and rely on your contractor to acquire any necessary paperwork.

5. Keep a “slush fund” handy.

Setbacks are a part of any renovation. If your house is particularly old or has some (loveable) quirks, your timeline shouldn’t be overly rigid–allow some leeway for hangups. Also, it’s important to setup a secondary account to cover any unforeseen problems. A contractor will help you address any issues that pop-up and quote them accordingly.

6. Avoid reusing materials.
If you hire a general contractor, materials usually clock in at a cheaper price. But, if you decide to buy your own materials it’s important to avoid reused items. Beware of salvaged material as well–while recovered items are fine for certain projects (building furniture from reclaimed wood is a popular alternative to buying new pieces), the quality of salvage is never certain. Allowing your contractor to purchase new materials is always preferable to any other alternatives.

7. Be prepared to move out.

If your renovation is extensive, moving out for the duration (or at least the loud part) of the remodel is strongly recommended. Aside from the volume and mess, there can be fumes and emissions that are unhealthy—especially for young children. Also, it can be difficult for the contractor to work around your sleep/work schedule.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends.