10 Smart Remodeling Tips From Amy Matthews

Ready to tackle a home improvement project? Before you begin, learn how to add the most value for the least money and avoid costly mistakes from Sweat Equity host Amy Matthews.
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Stick to Your Home's Style

Any addition that complements the architecture of your home adds value. When renovating a traditional-style house, opt for classic styles like wooden banisters. These timeless details will blend in seamlessly, as if they've always been a part of the home.

Don't Overlook the Details

If you're thinking about resale, spend the time and money it takes to finish the trim work and molding in your home. Potential homebuyers will see a fixer-upper if these details are missing, so completing these projects is key if you want to sell your home for its full value.

Plan Your Project in Advance

It might be tempting to do a project in phases if you want to save money or just take it slow. But if you haven't planned the entire project ahead of time, you may do something that you'll have to go back and change later, which will cost you more money in the long run.

Work With What You Have

If your cabinets need an update, consider refacing or resurfacing them rather than replacing them. They're probably good quality if you live in an older home, and getting brand-new cabinets of the same quality can be costly. Refurbish what's already there, and you'll get a whole new look while saving a bundle.

Plan Your Demo

While it may be tempting to just grab a hammer and let loose during demolition, it's important to plan your demo just like every other phase of the project. As you're tearing things apart, know what's going and what's staying. If you just start ripping things down without a plan, you might trash something that you could have reused.

Save Cash With Reclaimed Materials

Repurposing old building materials and cabinetry is a great way to save a ton of money when remodeling. After a fresh coat of paint and new beadboard paneling, this reclaimed cabinet makes a great entryway bench – for a fraction of the cost of a brand-new, store-bought one. You can find great deals on materials at stores that sell reclaimed or surplus building materials.

Weigh Your Options on Energy Efficient Updates

Adding energy efficient features to your home is a great investment, but don't assume you have to make major upgrades to cut energy costs. New windows, for instance, can take up to 20 years to recoup the cost from energy savings, so it may be smarter to simply fill in air leaks around your existing windows. Consider how long you're going to live in the house to decide what will work best for you in the long run.

Add Storage on a Budget

Storage is a huge buzz word today – you can never have too much. If you want to increase your storage space but don't have a lot to spend, consider buying a customized storage system online. The systems are usually fairly inexpensive and are completely tailored to fit your space and your needs.

Remodel by the Rules

If you live in a condominium, the types of remodeling projects you can tackle might be limited. For instance, you may only be able to install a hardwood floor if you live on the lower level. Before you start remodeling, check with your condo association so you don't make any updates you'll have to replace in the long run. And no matter what type of home you live in, be sure to adhere to local building codes.

When in Doubt, Hire a Pro

DIY projects are a great way to save money, but if you find yourself guessing your way through your renovation, stop and hire a pro to do it. You'll save yourself the trouble and expense of having to hire someone to fix your mistakes in the long run.