Unless you've got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself. "If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out," says Tom Silva. "You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand." Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. "Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly," he advises.
"A remodeling project is going to affect every room in the house," says A. J. Paron-Wildes, general manager of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. "The homeowners need to take down pictures, move vases, and pack away valuables before work begins." While you're at it, take steps to protect your immovable fixtures, including built-in cabinets and chandeliers. Have flooring covered with cardboard sheets if it needs to stay in good condition.
Though the practice is controversial among the trades, some contractors will offer consulting and mentoring services to skilled do-it-yourselfers on an hourly basis. Chicago-area builder Ted Welch charges $150 per hour for such coaching, with a two-hour minimum commitment. "The most satisfied clients tend to be those who have good manual dexterity, who realize that skills need to be practiced in order to be perfected, and who are willing to risk making a few mistakes and then learn from them," he says.

Remodeling should be practical. Figure out what bothers you the most about your home, and fix those things. Also, consider items that can lower your overall costs. Some green home improvements, such as adding insulation, better windows and upgrading your furnace, can provide you with monthly savings — and you can get a tax credit too. Think about practical things that will make your home more comfortable for your family first, and then add bling later if you think it will enhance your quality of life.

The easiest way to clear up this question, of course, is to simply ask the company or contractor you're using what is the tipping policy before you even agree to a deal. Yeah, it's a bit awkward—but it's nothing compared with getting it completely wrong. And since tipping customs can vary a lot by region—people in Bismarck, ND, may not tip the same as those on New York’s Upper East Side—you could get some community advice from people who live nearby.
Many homeowners consider obtaining a building permit as an unnecessary headache which can slow down the renovation process, but permits are a necessary part of the process in most cases, which can come back to haunt you if not obtained in the first place. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and code inspectors in most jurisdictions can make you rip out non-conforming work if not up to snuff. This can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road. It’s always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed. Check out our DIY home improvement rules for more tips.
Depending on the scale of your project, you might not need a full-on architectural commission, which involves extensive meetings, multiple job-site visits, and several sets of construction drawings, to the tune of about 8 percent of a project's construction budget. You might be able to tap an architect's design savvy by having him undertake a one-time design consultation. For example, for a $400 flat fee, Baton Rouge architect Kevin Harris will meet with a homeowner, examine the problem, and sketch out a few solutions that could be as simple as opening up a partition wall or moving a door. The homeowner can then give the sketch to a builder or take it to a drafting service, which will charge about $1 to $1.50 a square foot to crank out formal construction drawings.
Though the practice is controversial among the trades, some contractors will offer consulting and mentoring services to skilled do-it-yourselfers on an hourly basis. Chicago-area builder Ted Welch charges $150 per hour for such coaching, with a two-hour minimum commitment. "The most satisfied clients tend to be those who have good manual dexterity, who realize that skills need to be practiced in order to be perfected, and who are willing to risk making a few mistakes and then learn from them," he says.
As a Realtor I would suggest adding a fresh paint job to existing cabinets before painting. As of point number #1 you can go overboard on your home as long as you don’t go over budget on your wallet. It will pay off if you are remodeling your kitchen and get cabinets that have a good look. You can get by with with cabinets that look good when closed but might not have the bells and whistles like dove tails or soft close sliders. It pays off to do a back splash up the wall and going with a granite counter top. Prices have really gone down in the last few years.
Try to use all the space of your bathroom as much as possible, if your bathroom is on the smaller side, then you have to unleash your creativity in order to design the space and make it look larger. Glass doors for tubs and showers are perfect if your purpose is to open up the room, and the pedestal sinks are ideal since they occupy lesser space when compared to cabinets.  All cabinets and tower cabinets above the toilets, as well as towel racks are perfect for those who need storage, but who don’t have much space to work with.
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You’re right that there should definitely be some kind of ventilation in a bathroom to prevent moisture build-up. My husband and I are remodeling our bathroom and removing the window that is attached to one wall (it’s just so awkward having one there) and installing a vent to replace it is definitely something we’ll want to look into. I’m not sure if we already have an inlet valve, but our toilet can be rather noisy, so we’ll have to talk to the contractor about that, as well.

Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. "Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue," says Jeff Hurst, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and president of Hurst Total Home, Inc., in Kettering, Ohio. "The contractor may not be aware that something is not OK with the owner."
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