Busting the budget is everyone's biggest fear when it comes to renovation. And with good reason. Even if you follow the essential advice we've been doling out for years—build in a 20 percent cushion to cover the nasty surprises, get contractor references and check them, banish the words "while you're at it" from your vocabulary—it's hard not to end up shelling out more than you want to, even if you want to pen a check for a million bucks.

Start prowling the aisles at the hardware store or home center way before the wrecking crew shows up. Get a good feeling for what you want in fixtures and appliances and what they cost. If you aren't absolutely specific up front about what you want, you'll have to rely on your contractor's estimate, called an allowance, and his notion of what is acceptable may be quite different from yours. "Ninety-eight percent of the time, allowances are too low," says Tom Silva. For instance, you may have had a glass-tile backsplash in mind, but your contractor's bid was for ceramic.
It's time to start thinking of transitioning your decor from Christmas to winter. Winter is such a peaceful, quiet and beautiful time of year. It's about snuggling in warm blankets, drinking hot cocoa around a fire in the hearth, enjoying time with family and friends. Just because the holidays will soon be over, doesn't mean that the fun has to stop. Grab a mug and listen in.
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.
Look at your exterior, and see if you can make improvements to how your home looks from the outside. In many cases, you can do some of these things with little cost or effort. Keeping things tidy, cleaning the siding (or adding a fresh coat of paint), or planting some perennials can help. While having a tidy house on the outside can improve your own feelings of comfort in your home, enhancing the curb appeal of your home is especially important if you are trying to sell. First impressions do matter.

If you can reorganize and equip your kitchen for maximum utility, you may not need to blow out the walls to gain square footage. Start by replacing space-hogging shelves with cabinet-height pullout drawers 8 inches wide, containing racks for canned goods and other items. "You're getting three or more horizontal planes where you might otherwise get only one," says Louis Smith Jr., an architect with Meier Group, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You could easily shell out a few thousand to outfit cabinets with upgrades like dividers, pull-out pot trays, and lazy Susans, but you'll save many times that amount by skipping the addition you thought you needed.


Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care. "If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that," says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. "But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before." The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load-bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing. (For tips on how to do demo right, see our October 2005 feature, "Before You Construct, You Have to Destruct.")


Look at your exterior, and see if you can make improvements to how your home looks from the outside. In many cases, you can do some of these things with little cost or effort. Keeping things tidy, cleaning the siding (or adding a fresh coat of paint), or planting some perennials can help. While having a tidy house on the outside can improve your own feelings of comfort in your home, enhancing the curb appeal of your home is especially important if you are trying to sell. First impressions do matter.
I like that you talked about how you must consider having a little extra for the budget in bathroom remodeling because there can be unexpected problems that can affect the cost of the project. My husband and I are interested to remodel our bathroom to give it a newer look. We’ve been talking about the factors that we should consider in setting a budget for it since we want everything planned accordingly. With that being said, I’ll make sure to consider having a little extra for the budget. Thanks!
For the most part, if you plan to sell, you will get the most bang for your buck with small, low cost improvements to your home. Have the carpets shampooed, de-clutter and clean. Add fresh paint or wall paper. In fact, even if you don’t plan to sell, you might find that your home feels almost new if you just make some improvements to the overall cleanliness. The only exception to this low-cost remodeling rule is if you only have one bathroom. Your family will probably be more comfortable — and you’ll be more likely to sell — if you put in at least one more bathroom.
Even in a cosmetic remodel, there can be an opportunity to enhance the function or money-saving capability of your home. When ripping out an entire room, for instance, this may be the perfect time to add insulation to the walls, upgrade your electrical panel or add additional light or electrical fixtures. The key is to think ahead to how you will use the room, and take advantage of cosmetic updates to enhance the structure of your home.
Great Tips. Yes; the given 5 tips are quite helpful to remodel a house. People are often seen selling their house at a much cheaper price in order to get rid of the cleaning/painting. If you have decided to sell out your home make some effort to present it perfectly to the buyer. And you never know this may land you in a higer profitable deal. Last summer I sold out my house for pretty good offer.

There are certain regulations that must be followed for proper ventilation in your bathroom. Not only is it code, but it is also better for your health. Without proper ventilation, things like aerosol sprays will be left to stagnate the air. Over time, this would make it more and more uncomfortable to use the bathroom. Most bathrooms remodeling requires some form of ventilation, either through a centralized system or through the installation of the window.  Shower doors, panels, and screens need to leave ample space for ventilation. The steam that builds up during a hot shower an permeate the air to the point where it becomes difficult to breathe. During a shower, you need someplace for the steam to escape, and ventilation helps circulate fresh air into the room.  Besides, there should always be enough space for clearance during an emergency. In some cases, custom shower solutions offer you the ability to have a glass transom that can be tilted open to release steam and other particles in the air. Adding a fan to the bathroom boosts your bathroom’s ventilation capabilities. If you already have a fan installed, you may want to add a second one depending on the size specifications of your bathroom.

But why scale back a project or forgo that Viking range? No, what you need to do is get your dream at a price you can afford. And not by cheaping out, either. With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. On the following pages, we'll show you the ways, from the big (knock down the house and start over) to something as small as choosing a wall sconce over a recessed light. But another universal truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up. So save a little here, save a little there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
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