Home Remodeling Tips: 22 Dos + 10 Don’ts (Explained)

Applying some successful house remodeling tips and ideas to your home can transform it from adequate to a sought-after dream home.

What are the best home remodeling tips, and what should you not do when remodeling a home?

home remodeling tips

22 Tips for Successful Home Remodeling

The best home remodeling tips involve looking at the housing market in your area with a view to resale.

This house may be your forever home, and you may have money to burn but the most important things to consider when remodeling a house is the impact on your capital asset.

Some inexpensive home remodeling ideas significantly increase your home’s value, whereas others cost more and contribute less to eventual resale value.

#1 First Things First: Know What You Want to Achieve

You may have just bought an old house, and you know it needs remodeling.

You can just start rewiring, painting, and doing other jobs as they crop up, but this approach is unlikely to give you your dream home.

Before you begin remodeling, know what you want the house to look like when you have finished. You need a target to aim at and a realistic time scale.

#2 Money Matters

Most people need to achieve their home remodeling on a budget.

Be realistic about how much labor and materials will cost and see if you have the appropriate amount of funding available.

Finally, a sanity check – is the amount you will spend sensible in comparison with the value of your home before and after remodeling?

#3 Buy Expertise

Everyone has a skill set, and you may have valuable skills to use in our home remodeling, but you will need a professional team for some, if not all, of your home remodel.

The amount of professional support you need depends on the complexity of your home remodel project.

Assess at the outset who you need on your team and what skills are most valuable in your project, so your money is always well spent.

The biggest home remodeling mistakes include not hiring professional help when you need it and ending up with a poorly finished and potentially dangerous result.

#4 Be Legal

Unless you are a qualified property lawyer, you are probably unfamiliar with the legal requirements relating to your home remodel.

The regulations and the necessary paperwork vary depending on the project and your area’s legislation.

Before planning your project, either pay someone to advise you about legal matters or do your research.

Dealing with legal paperwork will involve some financial costs but will also cause delays in project timing.

#5 Timing is Everything

Any stand-up comedian will tell you that timing is crucial. The same is true of house remodeling.

Pay attention to the weather to work out when is the best time to remodel your home.

In winter, heavy snow and high winds are not the best time to take out your windows or work on your roof.

#6 Be Safe

Life involves risk, but the most successful people learn to recognize and mitigate potential risks.

Your contractor must run a safe site, but you need to consider your role and what risks your house remodel has for your family – especially children and pets.

Safety issues involve access in and out of your home and carrying out everyday living while remodeling because a complex project may take some time.

Perhaps you need to rent alternative accommodation, or you can rearrange which rooms are in use.

#7 Be Comfortable

Being comfortable is not the same as being safe – you can be safe and miserable.

Remodeling a kitchen may leave you without access to cooking equipment.

However, you can budget to eat out while this activity takes place, barbecue in the yard, or cook ahead and use a microwave in an alternative room.

Working out how you and your family can be comfortable while remodeling your house will ensure that the project runs more smoothly than if everyone is unhappy during the process.

Not having power, heating, access to cooking or a bathroom, and uncomfortable sleeping arrangements make it difficult to function while remodeling your house.

If your budget or circumstances don’t allow you to live elsewhere, ensure you plan to be comfortable during the remodeling by temporarily organizing your substitute living space.

One morale booster during difficult times is the ability to have a warm shower.

Consider buying or renting a shower tent and portable shower if you have an extensive house remodel making life difficult.

#8 Break It into Smaller Chunks

The adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time applies to a house remodel.

The best home renovation tips and tricks involve creating discrete smaller projects as stages to the complete remodel.

This approach is helpful for cash flow and makes it easier for you to live in your home while renovating.

Plus, it is easier to take a break between projects and identify potential issues. You can also time your tasks for the best weather and your convenience.

#9 Do Things in the Right Order

There is no point in recarpeting if you have a leaky roof – first, fix the roof.

Assess or get professional help to plan your project in the correct order for hiring contractors and buying materials in time for the relevant work portion.

Messy activities like rewiring, plumbing, and plastering work best when you don’t have obstructions in the way.

If you can get all the mess dealt with on one stage, you can then clean up and move on.

#10 Put Stuff in Storage

Self-store or renting a storage container means you can remove your furniture and other possessions into a clean, dry, protected space.

It also frees up space for your remodeling project without wasting precious time moving your possessions around your house or storing them off-site.

Plus, you don’t run the risk of ruining your belongings with damage from your remodeling activities or the weather if you need to put stuff outside.

#11 Educate Yourself

Before you start any home remodeling, get a feel for what is involved. Interrogate friends and family about their remodeling experiences and what they wish they knew before they started.

You may not intend to do it yourself but find out what is involved in roofing, plumbing, wiring, and all the other trades you intend to employ.

You don’t have to be an expert, but you want familiarity with the language and estimate what costs you face.

Compile your list of home remodeling tips so you identify what house remodeling mistakes to avoid (see the following section).

#12 Get Quotes and Ask Questions

Whatever job you want to complete, get at least three quotes and ask plenty of questions about what is in the quotation.

Simple things like does that quote include cleaning up afterward and removing all the waste from the site?

Your contractors may expect that you deal with all waste removal which is an extra cost to include in your budget.

You may also need to supply the materials.

That gives you a logistical issue of ensuring that when your contractor turns up on-site, they have the materials to work with – otherwise, you pay for an extended coffee break and another day’s labor.

#13 Check References and Insurance

If you are carrying out a significant house remodel, you will rely on your team to work efficiently, within budget, and safely.

It makes sense to find out who you are dealing with and how easy it is to work with them.

Do your best to get a feel for the effectiveness of your potential contractor or team member by asking for and following up on references, reading available reviews, and ensuring they maintain adequate insurance.

#14 Avoid Conflict

Typically, you want to avoid putting two trades to work in one space – an electrician and a plumber are likely to get in each other’s way.

Try and schedule your specialist workers to have quality time with your remodeling project and avoid competing demands.

Plus, some activities need to take place after others. For example, there is no point in getting a guy to lay a floor if you need someone to lay underfloor heating next week.

#15 Have the Right Tool for the Job

If you are carrying out part of the remodeling work yourself, ensure you have all the tools and materials you need to complete that job in one place.

If you are using cordless power tools, ensure you charge them, and you have spare power packs if necessary.

Also, make sure you have appropriate safety equipment.

#16 Take Before and After Photographs

Partly so you can have the satisfaction of seeing the progress you make on your home remodel, but also for practical reasons.

Your photographs are an invaluable resource for future renovations.

In time you will forget where the electricity cables and drainage pipes lie in the room, but a photograph can give you a visual reminder.

#17 Deal with Waste

Have a designated space for waste materials generated by your house remodel and ensure it is disposed of appropriately.

At the end of every working day, clean up your area and remove all waste material to the designated space.

A tidy site is safer, and your remodeling will progress faster without a layer of debris.

#18 Keep a Remodeling Journal

Record all the work you complete, costs, and details of materials.

Recording the expenses helps you track your budget so you do not overspend, and knowing what materials you use will help with future repair and maintenance.

Plus, you can note any learning points for future work on your home – how many tiles do you need for the kitchen floor, how many to spare, and other helpful information.

#19 Be Realistic About Surplus Material

It is tempting to imagine that a half can of paint is useful for touching up stains and that those leftover tiles are spares for replacing cracked tiles in the future.

Unless you know for a fact that you are the person who will spend time carefully chipping out one cracked tile to replace it or will spend time every quarter touching up your paintwork, you are wasting your time and space.

The paint on your walls will fade with age, and the paint in the can will no longer match within a few months. Levering out one tile on a tiled wall risks damaging its neighbors, and you are probably never going to attempt that repair.

Yes, you can do plenty of valuable things with leftover timber, but will you?

Your best approach with leftover materials is to sell them, donate to a worthy cause or add them to your waste disposal.

These materials are only useful if you can guarantee you will use them in the next few weeks.

#20 Shop Smart

If you are home remodeling on a budget (and who isn’t?) – shop around. If you can be flexible on timing, you can buy your most expensive materials in clearance sales.

Some retailers will give you the option of returning unused, complete packs within a short time after a sale.

If you adopt a creative approach, you mix and match materials from other house remodeling projects and save money while creating a unique finish.

#21 Hire or Borrow Expensive Specialist Tools

Before you buy an expensive tool, ask yourself how frequently you will use it after your project is complete. Then consider the hire cost vs. the purchase cost.

If the cost of hiring a cement mixer for the time you need is more than the purchase price, then buy it, but plan to sell it on when you finish.

Some specialist tools are inexpensive, but once you have finished, you will never use them again or are easy to rebuy.

Donate or sell construction tools to reduce your clutter and need for tool storage.

#22 Retention Fees and Warranties

Consider negotiating a retention fee for the work carried out by contractors – nothing too excessive, enough to ensure that if there is an issue with the result that they are happy to return and carry out remedial work.

The retention length should be proportional to the time when something would go wrong.

If the work is warranted, then you probably won’t be able to negotiate a retention fee.

After the work finishes, inspect it regularly and insist on early action if you spot any issues.

10 Home Remodeling Mistakes

The top ten biggest home remodeling mistakes include:

#1 Budget Failure

You may grossly underestimate how much your home remodel will cost, or you may set a realistic budget but fail to control the costs.

Either way results in a budget overspend, which can be an issue if you don’t have the additional funds.

No one wants to leave their home remodel partially completed.

#2 Using the Wrong Contractor

Unless you regularly remodel houses, you probably don’t know the contractor or have any previous experience working with them.

Hiring the contractor is the decision that will make or break your project – try and get a personal recommendation and look for evidence of experience and an excellent reputation.

Consider using your potential contractor on a smaller project first – if at all possible – so you can get a feel for how reliable and effective they are in their approach.

#3 Not Getting the Relevant Permissions

If you need planning permission and fail to get it, you may not get the option of retrospective permission.

Sometimes the planning department insists you dismantle the work done, leaving you with the expense of a failed project and a mess to clear up.

Always check the paperwork before you start planning.

#4 Making It Up as You Go Along

Without a plan, you are planning to fail – you need a clear picture of what you intend to achieve with your house remodel.

Complex projects require professional plans, diagrams, work schedules, and material specifications.

#5 Ignoring the Weather

Living in centrally heated, air-cooled environments means forgetting the adverse impact of weather on the house remodel, from increased dirt and mud tracking into your house, delayed drying times, increased hazards, and weather damage.

Schedule external work and significant projects for warmer, drier months to give you optimal conditions for your house remodel.

#6 Overstretching Your Capabilities

Part of your budget may include an element of DIY work, but you may pay more to have your work sorted by a professional if you overestimate your skill level.

By adding the cost of specialist tools and your time cost, you may find that it is more economical to hire a professional.

It depends on the project, but try and be realistic about your skill level and don’t overstretch yourself by trying to complete a complex project without the appropriate expertise and additional support.

#7 Trying to Do Too Much at Once

Although it is tempting to complete all your house renovations in one batch, it is rarely a successful approach for most people.

Prioritize smaller projects that make the most difference -structural work first and then the décor.

Tackling your house remodel in stages may work out better for your cash flow and your nerves.

#8 Creating Frankenstein’s Monster

Successful house remodeling means creating additions that are in sympathy with the existing architecture.

Alternatively, you can opt to bolt on a radically different style and hope that the effect is charming rather than terrifying.

Most people want to enhance their homes, but the result can be quite ugly if you don’t match your architectural styles, adversely impacting your curb appeal.

Choosing the appropriate color scheme for the house exterior significantly impacts your house’s value as much as its interior renovations do.

#9 Ignoring Light and Air

Natural light and fresh air keep you and your family healthy and happy. Windows are a crucial element of any house remodel.

Where possible, you want to increase the amount of light and air getting into your home by adding rather than reducing widow space.

Creating rooms without natural light is a mistake.

#10 Ignoring Safety Measures in Your Design

No one expects to be the victim of a house fire or other catastrophe, but accidents happen.

An architect will automatically design all necessary safety features that the amateur may miss.

Ignoring disaster planning may never be an issue, but you don’t want a lifetime of remorse if the worse happens.

Planning for the worse is not pessimistic; it is a way of putting your family first.

Start each home remodeling with a safety mindset – how can you make your home safer for your family.

Step-By-Step Guide to Home Remodeling

All projects begin with a plan and then progress through to completion, but it all starts by setting an end goal.

Stage 1: Plan for Success

A life coach will tell you to visualize the smell and taste of success; elite athletes rehearse their performance before using their muscles – any endeavor works best with a clear plan of the result and the process to achieve that goal.

The planning stage breaks down to the following activities:

  • Research – how will it all work, legal requirements, and do you need an architect.
  • Plans, diagrams, and 3D renderings – you may see your goal, but you need to communicate it clearly to others.
  • Budget – set aside what you can afford for the remodel, and make sure you have some money in reserve for unexpected events.
  • Legal paperwork – get all your ducks in a row.
  • Timeline – what needs to happen when.
  • Materials and contractors – list and timetables.

Stage 2: Preparation

Before you can begin executing your house remodel, you need to prepare the way:

  • Obtain quotations, references and hire your team – contractors, architects, interior designers, and everyone you need to make your remodel work.
  • Set up an account with your material supplier and find out delivery schedules.
  • Organize your life – put stuff in storage, move out, arrange pet boarding, advance meal preparation, and anything else you need to do to be comfortable and safe during the remodel.
  • Purchase or hire any specialist tools you need.

Stage 3: Do the Work

If you put everything in the hands of a specialist team, then at this stage, you can step back and take a deep breath.

Your role is to liaise with the project manager and pay your bills on time.

If you are project managing your home remodel and possibly doing some of the work yourself, then the running order for a typical remodel is:

  • Demolition – remove all the old stuff and arrange waste disposal to clear the ground before starting your new work.
  • Infrastructure – heating, air cooling, electrical, and plumbing, you may go through more than one stage for a complex project.
  • Creating structures – framing, drywall, plaster, brickwork, all the ways of making walls and rooms, you may have to do this part before your utilities or alongside.
  • Doors and windows – necessary to create a dry interior for the final stages.
  • Painting, tiling, and other wall and ceiling finishes.
  • Fixtures and fittings – cabinets, appliances, baths, toilets, and anything else that gets fixed in place.
  • Professional clean – dust gets everywhere, and now you want a thorough clean to inspect the work you’ve done and clear your air vents.
  • Lay any floor coverings – you save this for the end of the project, so you don’t trash your floor while doing the other work.
  • Finishing – check that everything is where it should be and there are no missing or scrappy areas.

Stage 4: Post Project

Now you finish your project by moving back into your remodeled home:

  • Remove all waste.
  • Get stuff back from storage.
  • File all your paperwork – put warranties in a safe place.
  • Add your decorative accessories.
  • Leave a review for your contractors and other workers – especially if they have done an excellent job for you.
  • Sell excess materials and tools.

Who Are You Going to Hire?

It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly takes a team to remodel a house, even if it is a family affair.

If you choose to hire an architect to plan and project manage your build, you can opt for them to engage all the relevant contractors.

Alternatively, you can make all the hiring decisions yourself and hire an architect and the contractors as a separate package.

When you hire a contractor, you can choose one firm to do it all, and the contractor will use whatever trades they need to finish the job.

If you are project managing and completing some of the work yourself, you may wish to hire individual trades to cover the specialist work.

Depending on your project, you may need:

  • Electrician.
  • Plumber.
  • Heating and air conditioning engineer.
  • Carpenter.
  • Plasterer.
  • Tiler.
  • Roofer.
  • General builder and framer.
  • Kitchen fitter.
  • Bathroom fitter.
  • Professional cleaner.

Depending on your project, you may also need to hire an architect or interior designer, or both.

Enjoy Your House Remodel

Most people dread renovation work, but you may find it better to look forward to the process as an opportunity to learn new facts about your house (historic houses often have hidden secrets) and to create your ideal living space.

Plus, you may find the process of turning a tired old house into a modern, vibrant living space so addictive, you’ll choose to sell (at a profit, naturally) and start a new project straight away.

Every property developer begins somewhere!

Alternatively, you can relax and enjoy the results of your effort in a home shaped to suit you and your family.