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How to plan your restoration, remodel or addition

If you have already decided that a renovation project or addition to your home in is in your near future, know that it is a big undertaking. You already have the dream, so the next step is to put a well-thought out plan in place to turn your ideas into reality.

A well-planned project will save you time, money and avoid headaches while helping you reach your goals, whether you’re looking to boost the value of your home, add to its character or simply extend the square footage. Get ahead of the game and your project off to the right start with these basic planning guidelines:

Wish List -- Start off by making a list of things you want, what issues you want to resolve, and what you want the project to achieve. Don’t be afraid to sketch out your ideas. Knowing the end result will only help the process.

Eye On the Future -- Think ahead about how long you plan to stay in your home or might someday sell, and how the home will fit the future of your family. Make sure the project fits the style of your home, as well as the neighborhood, and is cost-effective for the value of the improvements if you sell sooner rather than later.

Know the Rules -- Research any restrictions on your property as well as local ordinances. Make sure to get the required permits to meet local codes and safety regulations.

Learn From Others -- Check in with friends and family who have completed projects to find out what went right, and what didn’t. Find a contractor, architect or designer in your network to seek some friendly advice.

Make It Match -- Focus on keeping your project in proportion to the rest of the house and consider the building materials of the original structure. Repeating architectural features and designs, as well as choosing matching or complementary materials, will avoid an eyesore.

Budget, Budget, Budget -- It’s possible, even likely, cost overruns will cause you to go over your budget. Review all of your material choices to clearly understand where you want to go high-end, and where you can save. Make sure to include a contingency cushion in your overall budget. Explore home-improvement loans, home equity loans and re-financing options.

Choose Your Crew -- All DIYers must decide on how much to take on yourself and what, if any, parts of the project to hire out. Once that is done, research licensed contractors and subcontractors to ensure they are qualified and have proper insurance. Make sure they understand your plan and vision, and negotiate a written contract to avoid misunderstandings.

Plan For Problems -- Even the best-laid plans can run astray. Understand ahead of time there will be issues and you will need to remain flexible. Have an open mind to how to solve problems that will surely arise without creating further delays.

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