It’s time for a home renovation. Maybe you need to replace your old roof; maybe you need to create an accessibility-first bathroom for a senior in your home; or maybe you want to remodel the kitchen to boost your home’s value.

Whatever home improvement project you choose to pursue, you may struggle with knowing where to start. You can help prepare yourself by following these five steps to ensure your renovation goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Plan your home renovation budget

“Home renovation” and “cheap” are seldom used in the same sentence (except for this one). Before you start your project, research how much your desired renovation usually costs. Then, create a budget – preferably with a bit of a cushion, as it’s not uncommon for projects to go over budget.

Once you have your budget, be sure to have a way to access the money. If you don’t have money available, consider doing a cash-out refinance. This type of refinance gives you cash based on the equity in your home.

Then, if you choose to use a contractor (which we highly suggest unless you’re experienced), review your budget with them. This will let them know what they’re working with, and they can tell you if your vision is more expensive than what you’re willing to pay. Also, since this is such a large project, research your contractor before hiring them.

2. If needed, get a permit

Depending on your home renovation, you may need to get a legal permit. The good news is that the contractor will usually take care of this, since they are more familiar with the process. You’ll be responsible for covering this fee.

However, don’t assume your contractor will take care of getting the permit, as this is not always the case. Before you hire a team, make sure they’re able and willing to get the permit ­– and if not – figure out if this is something you’re willing to do on your own, or look for another contractor.

3. Draft a detailed contract and read the fine print

Before your team gets started, have a contract drafted and read over every single word. Since this is a large, expensive project – a contract will protect you and the remodelers. Read it over several times and make sure you understand all of the terms, and that everything is included in writing.

If you can’t understand some of the language, consider hiring somebody or asking a friend or relative with legal experience to explain it to you. If there is something you disagree with or missing, SPEAK UP!

4. Communicate with your contractors

Communication is key – and with your contractors, it’s no exception. Your home renovation is your vision, and you’re the only one who knows what you want. If there is something you’d like done differently, say something. The worst they can say is no, and suggest an alternative option.

Also, before your contractors get to work, create a communication plan with them. This should include methods of interaction (phone, email, etc.), when you can be reached, and expectations for how long it should take to return a phone call or email. Big home improvement projects require a lot of back and forth, so it’s imperative to feel comfortable with the contractor before the work begins.

5. Make space

If you’re renovating a room inside of your house, make as much room as possible for the workers. Your first priority should be removing fragile or expensive items from the room and storing them elsewhere. You don’t want your contractors to be worrying about breaking the family’s valuable China set.

Your second priority should be removing larger items, such as couches and cabinets, if you have the space. If you can’t physically move these items, your contractor may be willing to move them for an additional fee. You may want to consider storing valuable items and prescription drugs in a safe during the duration of the project.

Tackling the beginning steps of a home renovation can sound overwhelming – but following these tips will help to ensure you’re well equipped with the right tools, so to speak.Still wondering how to make your renovation go smoothly? Check out the do’s and don’ts of home improvement.

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