It’s no secret we all wish we could stretch our dollars further in order to complete our project the way we want. As a professional I will often recommend to clients that they save their dollars to get exactly what they want, rather then sacrificing, but as a rule of thumb always keep these four things in mind:

1) If you’re not sure what your project is going to cost, hire a professional like myself to come out to give you an idea.

Kitchen in need of remodel

I was recently hired to help a gal do this very thing. She is about to move here from Dallas and loves a home located in Brentwood, TN. Great location, good size and close to work. The problem? The entire house has medallions on every cabinet (shown above). They are in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room…you name it they are on every surface. Unfortunately this application has ruined all of the cabinets, thus explaining why this house has been on the market sine 2010. Before even doing minor decorating this home will have a minimum of $75K in renovations. Had she not hired me she would have had to live with the existing cabinets, or fallen into a money pit.

2) Prioritize-Create a list of the essentials

Home Exterior update

If your house needs a new roof, a front door and a new garage, figure out what NEEDS to be done first and budget accordingly. If you only received $4K back on your tax return and the new roof is going to be $5800, you need to decide if you want to set that $4K aside in savings or move forward on the garage door. I see many people fall into the pitfall of wanting to do it all at once, and putting home improvements on your credit card is never wise. Plan, plan, plan.

3) Avoid DIY if you don’t have experience.

DIY projects

There is a huge DIY movement sweeping the nation thanks to reality TV shows and DIY classes at big box stores. Many homeowners fall into the trap of thinking they will save money if they “do-it-themselves” and avoid hiring a contractor. Homeowners that go it alone without proper training and experience learn real fast that mistakes are extremely costly. Especially if you end up having to hire a contractor and the materials you purchased have to be repurchased again. Not to mention the lost time!

4) Choose projects that will yield the biggest return.

Kitchen update

In our industry we call this the ‘cost vs value’ on return. Does your project retain resale, and will another potential buyer think so? If money is driving your decisions on your home improvement projects, all of the above factors must be taken into consideration, but none are more important than the ROI. If you are really scrimping pennies you need to choose projects that give you the biggest bang for your buck.

The Kitchen project shown above is a great example. By simply repainting this kitchen a complimentary color to the kitchen cabinets her small investment of $1500 turned into a $20K ROI when she put her house on the market. Why? Because the potential new homeowners saw the value in a beautiful large kitchen that works well for their kids and family….not the cabinets with a strong yellow undertone. By hiring me to help her select the RIGHT paint color, her small investment turned into big reward.

Photos: Gates Interior Design, DIY life,

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