Where do I start my remodeling project?

Where do I start my remodeling project?

Renovating the bathroom. Remodeling a kitchen. Finishing the
basement. Updating the laundry room. New home remodeling projects are exciting. Just the thought of the finished room can give you goose bumps (and lots of oohs and ahs when the project is done!).

What your home renovation shouldn’t bring is buyer’s regret. Before you take your first sledge hammer swing, use these planning steps to make sure you’re happy with the finished project.

Decide what you want from your new room.

Before you look at flooring or choose a color for the walls, think about what you want from your new room. Do you need a more functional layout? Are there any things about your current room you really hate? What do you want out of the new room?

For example, if your bathroom is your next remodeling project, think about functionality. Do you need room for a bath tub? How many people are using the bathroom? Do you need a luxurious master bath? Or a more functional bathroom for your kids? Does your guest bathroom need lots of storage for your out-of-town guests?

Finishing a basement can come with even more questions. What do you need the space for: storage, rec room, media room, game room, man cave, craft room, bedroom?

Asking yourself these questions can help you as lay out the room and make decisions about materials for the room. If you are remodeling a bathroom for small children, look for materials that are durable and water resistant (for all those fun bath times and impromptu water fights!). For a basement media room, soundproofing is the theme as you sort through your options for insulation, flooring, and furniture.

Get ideas.

Don’t feel you have to wrack your brain for an original new layout or design. Look up ideas for your project on the internet (such as Houzz). Make a list of your favorite ideas or bookmark rooms that you like. If you want to find in-person inspiration, head into your local tile or flooring store to see materials. For advice from a pro, choose a store that has a designer on staff that can lend their expertise to your project.

Set a budget+.

The answers to your questions may guide your material decisions, but your budget has the final say. Decide how many funds you want to allocate to your project. Don’t shy away from your project if your budget is not overwhelming; little changes (such as painted cabinets, new flooring or tile) can make a big difference. If your room is large, such as a basement, ask your store about discounts for volume purchases. Be sure to include funds in the budget to pay for any surprises that can arise along the way, such as rewiring, plumbing, water damage, or anything else that could come up during the renovation.


Decide whether you are going to tackle the project (or parts of the project) yourself. As you shop, ask about discounts for materials you can buy yourself (and use this list of floors you can install as a DIY project). If you are feeling less than handy, choose simpler projects that you can easily complete.

If just the term do-it-yourself makes you cringe, or you don’t have time, add ‘look for a local contractor’ to your to-do list. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or look for a list of local contractors online. If they have a website or social media page, browse through their gallery, reviews, and testimonials to get an idea of the quality of their work. Vet your contractors carefully; you are trusting your home and funds to this person. Ask them these questions:

• Do you have any past clients I can contact for testimonials? (Make sure you ask past clients for information about payments and if they are satisfied.)
• How long you have you been a contractor?
• Have you completed a project like mine before?
• Will you get permits for the project?
• What is the timeline for the project?
• How do you handle payments? Do you require a down payment?
• When can you get started?
• Do you have any ideas for my project? (Don’t forget to ask this. Experienced contractors have seen it all and can give you great ideas for your project.)
• When will I hear from you again? Do you need anything from me?

Finalize your plan.

Once you’ve done your research, finalize the plan for your new space (you’re on your way to the finished project!). If you haven’t done so yet, head into your local stores to choose flooring, cabinets, window treatments (or to ask a designer to find the right design that fits your needs and preferences). Most importantly, make sure your layout is set; making changes to the room layout can incur significant costs that can increase your budget. Once you’ve got all the details set, it’s time to dream of the final project and look forward to enjoying your finished space.