Top Ten Remodeling Tips

By Todd Fratzel on Remodeling

Remodeling Tips

Bathroom RemodelingRemodeling your home can be a great alternative to moving and building a new home. This is especially true in today’s real estate and financial markets. A well planned and executed remodeling project can significantly increase the value and comfort of your home. Having said that I wanted to share some remodeling tips that are sure to help make your next project a more successful one.

Realistic Budget

Before beginning any remodeling project it’s extremely important to identify a realistic budget. There’s no sense starting a major remodeling project if you can’t afford it. Be honest with yourself about how much you can afford and write down an actual budget. After you’ve done that then only allocate 90% of that money for the remodeling tasks and save 10% for a contingency.

Appraisal / Value

So you’ve decided that you can afford to install an Olympic size pool in your new addition but is that the best decision? Or you decide to install a slate roof on your home because you love re-creating historically accurate homes. The real question is are you remodeling to an extent that the real estate market will not bear based on location. If none of your neighbors have a slate roof or indoor pool it may be less likely that an appraisal will compensate you for those costs.


Now that you’ve come up with a budget and you’ve presumably come up with an idea of your remodeling needs it’s time to develop a design. This is a step that requires some time and planning. You SHOULD NOT RUSH the design. Take your time and make a list of needs and goals for your remodeling project. Once you’ve got a list of needs then you can do some research and come up with a design. Obviously if you’re going to undertake a substantial remodeling project then you may want to consider an architect or interior designer.

There are tons of great design books available from Amazon and your local library. Taking the time to at least start the design will likely save you money even if you hire a professional to finish the design. We have quite a few remodeling and design articles on; kitchen design, walk-in closet design, kitchen remodeling and a kids playroom design. There are also lots of great resources out there at links like: bathroom remodeling, kitchen remodeling and  kitchen cabinet refacing.

House RemodelingScope of Work

Once the work is finished create a detailed scope of work. You won’t be able to effectively sign a contract with a contractor without identifying the scope of work to be completed. The more detailed the scope of work the better your experience will be and fewer chances for conflict will arise.


Start with some realistic expectations about the remodeling projects schedule. Most projects are not accomplished in a weeks time like Extreme Make Over’s! Even simple kitchen remodeling projects are likely to take a month or more so be sure to plan for the disruptions. Be sure to plan for holidays, bad weather, and product lead times. The bottom line is don’t wait until two weeks before Christmas Dinner to remodel your kitchen and expect it to be complete.

Multiple Contractor Bids

Unless you’re going to do all the work yourself I highly recommend getting at least three bids from qualified and recommended contractors. This is very important if for no other reason than to flesh out details that may not be specified or clear to all the parties.  It’s also likely to save you a significant amount of money and flexibility in choosing someone that is available to meet your schedule. Be sure that each contractor is bidding the same scope of work so you can compare apples to apples.

Qualified Contractors

This may be one of the most important tips I can give you. You really should get references from all contractors that you’re planning on hiring. There are lots of great contractors doing wonderful work and there are also a handful of crooked, dishonest, un-qualified contractors out there. It doesn’t take much effort to ask them for 3 or 4 references that you can call and ask about the quality of their work. I also recommend you call your local Better Business Bureau and check that no complaints have been filled against the contractor.


NEVER hire a contractor without signing a contract. Most reputable contractors will insist on it and if they don’t then this should be a clue to a shady operation. Contracts can be quite simple but it’s important to detail the scope of work, the cost and how delays and changes in scope will be paid for. Trust me this is very important and something that needs to be a high priority.

DIY and Save Money

Save some money on your next remodeling project by doing-in-yourself (DIY). Even if you don’t have many DIY skills it’s not that hard to save some money doing basic demolition, painting or other simple tasks. Maybe you’re creating an open floor plan, you could remove a wall before hiring someone to finish the project and save some money that way.


The last remodeling tip is about financing. Depending on the size of your remodeling project you may want to consider several different financing options. If you’re project is fairly large one option would be to take out a home owner’s equity loan instead of using savings or a credit card. The benefit of that would be obvious tax deductions for interest paid. However you decide to finance the project be sure it’s in place before you begin and find yourself un-able to pay.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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