Photo by Patriot Construction

Update: It’s a great feeling when you finally buy the house of your dreams, but the chances are there’s plenty of work to be done before it becomes a home. Fortunately there’s so many easy ways to find reliable contractors and designers online, even if you’ve moved to a completely new area and don’t know where to go for recommendations. There are plenty of sites where you can see customer ratings for local contractors, and finding quality materials, appliances and furniture second hand can be as easy as a quick search on craigslist.

(ARA) — You found the perfect house, the home of your dreams. Almost! The excitement that comes with finding your dream home naturally incites expansive thinking as you consider ways to improve the house and update the decor to reflect your personal style and taste. According to tips on the new Web site from The Home Depot,, before you get swept away in the excitement, you should take a few minutes to add up the total needs in time, money and inconvenience.

  • How long will it take to make this house perfect, just the way you pictured it in your dream?
  • Will your family survive the remodeling time, inconvenience and disruption?
  • What is the total cost of all the improvements… plus 15 percent for the inevitable surprises and errors in estimating labor and materials?
  • How will you finance the costs and be able to complete the remodeling within your price and time budget?
  • Once finished, will your dream home be priced above the market, above the neighborhood or above the size or type home most sought after in your community?

Know What You Can Do and What You Cannot Do

Avoid starting do-it-yourself home improvement projects that either you are not capable of finishing with an appropriate level of workmanship or you don’t have adequate time to complete without disrupting the life of your family. Before you even start to plan, it’s a good idea to know if the remodeling project is even feasible. Consider a consultation with an architect or qualified designer-builder in your community for an objective opinion. Expect to spend between $250 and $500 for a feasibility consultation that will give you an overview of structural considerations, approximate budget and local building code regulations.

Types of Remodeling and Home Improvement

Following are five types of improvements to consider, at least three of which many homeowners tackle very effectively, alone:

Refinishing is the most common, quickest, easiest and most financially and emotionally rewarding home improvement. Painting, wallpapering, refinishing hardwood floors, polishing brass fixtures, knobs and hinges, touching-up nicks and washing windows and screens all make their own unique impact on the look, feel and value of your home.

And anyone, indeed everyone can participate in this type of home improvement activity. Here are three refinishing tips to follow:

  • Preparation is essential.
  • Use materials and/or equipment designed for each refinishing project.
  • Buy quality tools designed for specific jobs.

Replacement is another popular D-I-Y home improvement project. Replacement includes a multitude of exterior, interior and mechanical systems projects including:

  • Landscaping
  • Sidewalk
  • Driveway
  • Entry or exterior doors and windows
  • Storm-screen windows and doors
  • Closet and other interior doors
  • Hardware, hinges, knobs and locksets
  • Ventilation and insulation products
  • Appliances and mechanical systems

Enhancement may just be the right choice to transform your adequate house into the exciting home of your dreams. Enhancement can add character and panache, giving a space a significant face-lift at a modest cost. Here are a couple of simple ideas from

  • Start with the front door. What can you do to add interest, excitement and a feeling of welcome? Add new, more elaborate trim? Replace the door, lockset, add sidelights or change color?
  • What’s the first thing you see on entering? A dramatic, marble or parquet floor? Rich, enticing paint colors or wallpaper? Formal moldings, exciting lighting and period furnishings? Or a dull, unimaginative foyer?

Conversion of existing space within a structure is often the type of improvement that gives the best value or “bang for the buck.” Conversion is just what the word says: conversion of an existing space from its current use to a new use. Examples include converting a basement storage area into a playroom or home office; an attic into a guest bedroom or child’s study area; or a garage into a family room, extra bedroom or an all new kitchen. An excellent conversion project is the expansion of a small kitchen into a combined family-room-eat-in-kitchen by converting an adjacent porch or attached garage into usable, exciting, interior living space.

If you are handy with tools and want to tackle a do-it-yourself project in your new home, a conversion project may be one you can complete without professional help. Be sure to talk with the Building Department or Planning & Zoning commission in your community before you begin any remodeling. There may be several permits to obtain and inspection procedures to follow before, during and after your project is completed.

Adding additional living space is generally best handled with at least professional design assistance, if not total responsibility for design and construction delegated to a competent architect, designer or home building contractor. You are not just adding space to an existing home, but rather changing the look, feel, flow, function and value of a structure and a group of systems.

Remodeling, particularly adding-on, makes the most sense when you can recover your investment at the time you sell your home. Ask your realtor to estimate the value of your home, with and without your planned improvements.

Make Sure the Addition Is:

  • Architecturally consistent with the existing structure
  • Structurally safe over the long-term
  • Mechanically safe and efficient
  • Cost effective

Check for Tax Savings

If you are converting existing space or building an addition to gain a home office, talk with your accountant about declaring that part of your home as business property. You may gain a tax benefit. (Ask the local IRS office to send you Publications 521, 523 and 551).

Courtesy of ARA Content