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Moving into a new home is an exciting opportunity for a fresh start. Even though you’ve found the right house, it might need some work to make it into your dream home. Many new homeowners get so swept up in emotion that they make a long list of improvements that they consider necessary, but they might not be.

Are Upgrades Needed Now?
Some home renovations really do need to be completed before moving in. For example, if the roof leaks or there are plumbing or electrical problems, those issues will need to be addressed to make the house safe and functional.

Other projects might not be necessary, but they’re easier to complete when a house is unoccupied. If you want to refinish the hardwood floors, replace the carpets or repaint the walls, those projects will be much easier without furniture everywhere.

Homeowners often go astray when they come up with a long wish list of home improvement projects. Some people want to gut a house and radically change the layout to make it more like a previous home or a dream house they saw on TV or read about in a magazine. When homeowners take some time to live in a house first, they often find that the existing layout works just fine for their family and lifestyle and that the renovations they deemed essential really aren’t necessary at all.

When and How to Find a Contractor
If your house needs repairs to make it suitable for your family to live there, don’t start talking to designers or contractors until you and the seller have signed a contract. You don’t want the purchase to fall through before a contract has been signed and wind up wasting time and money hiring professionals for a remodeling job that’ll never take place. Be prepared for a project to take longer than the contractor estimates, and figure out what you’ll do if you can’t move into your new home as soon as you’d like.

Whether you renovate your house before you move in or wait until you have lived there for months, you should interview several contractors and check their references. You should also realize that the contractor may discover problems with the house that’ll cause the final price to be significantly higher than the estimate. Even though you could wind up paying more than you’d like, you shouldn’t choose the cheapest contractor. You get what you pay for, and when it comes to your home, you don’t want to sacrifice quality.

Set Priorities
When you should renovate your home depends on the types of projects you’re considering and whether they’re urgent or even necessary. Repairs to make your home safe should be done before you move in, but with other projects, you might be better off waiting to figure out if they still seem important after you’ve lived there for a while.