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Essential Tips to Keep Home Improvement Costs Down

Before you strike the first nail, your home improvement projects will face critical make or break points along the way. The choices you make at these points can be critical to the success of the project. To get the most of your home improvement dollar, be sure to follow the steps below to keep your home improvement projects within budget.

Hire a pro - Good architects, designers and contractors will add to the initial cost of the project, but can save you money and frustration in the long run. Their experience will help you find design pitfalls early that can cause budget and timeline creep later. So how do you find a good architect or contractor? The best way is through word of mouth and referrals. Talk to your friends to see if any of them recently used either and if they were happy with the results. Local builders can also provide referrals. Another great source can be your local parade of homes or home builders association. Also, check with your real estate agent if you have one.

Design Fees and Contractor Costs - Most large scale home improvement projects will require the services of a professional interior designer, architect or contractor. Insist that each bid include a detailed propose on the scope and itmeline for the work. Do some analysis to determine if the fees are comparative when you shop for rates. The bargain rate firm may leave you with the clean-up and finishing work. The pricier bid may include oversight costs that you can do yourself. Keep in mind, that you often get what you pay for and cutting costs may harm you in the long run.

Planning is Key- Like any significant project, planning is a key to success. Spend quality time early in the home improvement project to make informed decisions ahead of time. Be sure to adequately review bids from contractors and don't select a contractor just because they are the lowest cost provider or are available immediately. Do your homework. Choose the design materials carefully to avoid costly changes later.

Develop Goals- Develop cost and timeline goals and stick to them as much as possible. Breaking the home improvement project down into smaller elements makes it easier to estimate the costs and manage the timeline later.

Helping Hand- Stay involved and pitch in where you can. By removing old fixtures, cabinets or doing other clean-up work you can save on the overall remodeling project. If capable, do some of the final finishing work yourself to also drive down the costs. Painting, touch up or installing faucets or other fixtures yourself can keep you within budget and give you the satisfaction of knowing you did some of the work yourself. You can also save considerable money if you do the clean-up yourself.

Design Choices and Customizations- Using custom cabinetry, windows, doors or other products can quickly drive the costs up for any home improvement project. This is one of the area where you can exercise a great deal of control over the costs. A standard window at your local home improvement store may cost 0, but a custom-sized window will cost at least double. Some elements of the project may need to be site specific and customized. But some product categories - such as windows, doors and cabinetry - offer a wide variety of standard or semi-custom choices. Adding your own trim or embellishments later may make these standard choices look customized.

Stick to the Plan- Don't let yourself get side tracked. For example, if you are painting your bedroom and you discover that the adjoining bathroom paint now looks dingy, don't get side tracked. Schedule the bathroom paint upgrade for another weekend. The desire to add or change along the way will be tempting and may prove irresistible. If your remodeling projects stick to the original plan, most would finish on time and within budget.

The key to avoiding cost overruns and other pitfalls during your remodeling projects is to properly manage the variables along the way. Estimating the costs is both an art and a science. The better you plan, manage those variables and stick to the original plan the more likely you are to be satisfied with the project and complete it within your cost and timeline budgets.

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