Dear Debbie: Tipping isn’t the standard in the home services trades, as it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. Still, it’s a question many homeowners wrestle with. To help answer it, Angie’s List recently polled nearly 5,000 home service professionals across the nation to find out if they expect a tip and if so, what they tend to collect.
One last tip about hiring skilled labor is to try to arrange your project for the off-season, which is usually after the holidays and before summer, but varies by region. Professionals are often busy with larger jobs in the summer, and many aren’t able or willing to take on smaller jobs at this time. I had trouble finding a mason in the summer, and getting an electrician to call me back was the worst! Another advantage of waiting until the off-season is that you may potentially be able to get a better price if they need the work.
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If you jump into a remodeling project with an ambiguous contract or no contract at all, you may as well hire an attorney and set a court date right away. "The contract needs the right address, a start date, a completion date, and a detail of what is and is not going to be done," says Rosie Romero, founder of Legacy Custom Builders in Scottsdale, Arizona.
There are certain regulations that must be followed for proper ventilation in your bathroom. Not only is it code, but it is also better for your health. Without proper ventilation, things like aerosol sprays will be left to stagnate the air. Over time, this would make it more and more uncomfortable to use the bathroom. Most bathrooms remodeling requires some form of ventilation, either through a centralized system or through the installation of the window.  Shower doors, panels, and screens need to leave ample space for ventilation. The steam that builds up during a hot shower an permeate the air to the point where it becomes difficult to breathe. During a shower, you need someplace for the steam to escape, and ventilation helps circulate fresh air into the room.  Besides, there should always be enough space for clearance during an emergency. In some cases, custom shower solutions offer you the ability to have a glass transom that can be tilted open to release steam and other particles in the air. Adding a fan to the bathroom boosts your bathroom’s ventilation capabilities. If you already have a fan installed, you may want to add a second one depending on the size specifications of your bathroom.
The first impression of your house is your door. If you are unable to change the door completely and if your existing door is in a good condition then you should repaint your door. Your doors could also affect the lighting of your room, and you could benefit from this great technique interior designed Amy Lau uses, “When dealing with a dark room, whatever color is used on the walls, I paint the ceiling, trim, and doors the same color but 50 percent lighter. Too much of one shade can overpower a space.” So, when renovating on a budget if you are repainting your door try to use different shades according to the concentration of light in your house to optimize the lighting of your house the way you want to.
Before you even call a remodeling company for your bathroom remodel, you should first talk with everyone who will be using the space. Try to have a discussion about the fixtures and finishes you are supposed to use and how much of a budget you’re willing to shell out. As you plan for your budget, it’s important to have a little extra, because you never know if there will be some unexpected problems that will increase the cost later on.
Dear Debbie: Tipping isn’t the standard in the home services trades, as it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. Still, it’s a question many homeowners wrestle with. To help answer it, Angie’s List recently polled nearly 5,000 home service professionals across the nation to find out if they expect a tip and if so, what they tend to collect.
Unfortunately, when it comes to bathroom remodeling, a lot of homeowners tend to neglect this aspect. What they are not aware of is the fact that proper ventilation is very important, especially if you want to ensure that your bathroom renovation project lasts for years to come. A bathroom that’s not properly ventilated could contribute to a number of problems, such as the buildup of mold and mildew. This could wreak havoc and ruin some of the expensive upgrades made in the new bathroom remodel, such as the floors, walls, and even the cabinetry.
Learning which items to spend your money on goes hand-in-hand with making a realistic budget and determining a sensible scope of work. The earlier you can make this determination, the more likely you will stay on track with costs. Think about which items you will use most frequently, as these are products that might be worth the higher price-tag. If you're on a tight budget, you might want to save on cosmetic finishings, as these items can be easily changed with time.
As different trends in home decor evolve, we have found that unique bathrooms are always a popular choice. Wet rooms might not function well with every bathroom design, but when you have space and resources for one, it can add a lot of value to the home. Most wet rooms include a shower and a toilet, without anything separating them. The uniqueness of wet rooms really comes into play when choosing flooring.The most important thing to remember when building a wet room is that everything must be able to resist moisture. Waterproofing your cabinets, flooring, and appliances is mandatory in order to have a well-functioning room.Flooring is one of the key features that distinguishes a wet room from other types of bathrooms. The flooring of the shower extends to the rest of the room, so it’s important to think about the fact that there is no separation happening there. This bathroom consists of open space with no steps or raised areas, giving you more flexibility to design something you wouldn’t be able to in other rooms.
It might sound simple, but paying for your project with money you already have will save you a significant amount of money you’d end up paying in interest if you take out a loan or put things on a credit card that you can’t immediately pay off. If you’re renovating in order to sell your home, it might make sense financially to take out a loan when you know there will be a return on your investment and the loan will be paid off quickly. But in general, paying in cash is the best way. If you can’t afford it now, begin thinking about ways you can trim your household budget to save money for your project.
Whether your budget is big or small, the cost of a home renovation can quickly get out of control! I’ve gone through two budget-friendly kitchen renovations in the past three years, so I wanted to share some tips that can help you achieve and manage a renovation that works for your home and budget. Check out our first shoestring-budget renovation we did at our old home, and then see what we did in our newer home with a bit more money.

Finally, what's on your ceiling? Few structural elements date a house more than popcorn ceilings. So dedicate a weekend to ditching the dated look and adding dollar signs to the value of your home. This is a project you can tackle yourself. First, visit your local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture, then simply scrape the popcorn away. Removing a popcorn ceiling may not seem like a big change but one of the keys for adding value to your home is to repair, replace or remove anything that could turn buyers away.

If you’re planning to do a lot of work yourself, be aware that there are things you should not do yourself if you aren’t licensed, such as electrical work or moving utility lines. If you are skilled enough for a job like tearing down walls and installing load-bearing beams, be sure to get a permit. This will keep you from getting into trouble, and it will also protect future inhabitants of your home.
However, you may choose to add a clause in your cost-plus remodeling contract that pays a bonus if the contractor completes the project early or under budget. This is more an incentive than a show of appreciation, and can be a percentage of estimated money saved or a flat fee, perhaps $500 to $1,000 for a major project like a large kitchen remodel.

Inspect prior work. When you talk to potential contractors, ask them for examples of work they have done that is similar to what you want. Find out if it is possible to contact previous clients and to inspect the work that was done for them. You will also want to ask the client if the project was finished on time, if they were satisfied with the work, and if there were any unexpected costs added during the project.
I love your tip to talk to everyone that will be regularly using the bathroom space for ideas on what you want the remodel to look like. It would be important to make sure everyone will be happy with the remodel and that it will fulfill everyone’s needs! I’m planning on remodeling my guest bathroom, but I’ll make sure to talk to all my roommates before I call a remodeling company. Thanks!
Inspect prior work. When you talk to potential contractors, ask them for examples of work they have done that is similar to what you want. Find out if it is possible to contact previous clients and to inspect the work that was done for them. You will also want to ask the client if the project was finished on time, if they were satisfied with the work, and if there were any unexpected costs added during the project.
One of a room's most neglected spaces, the ceiling, makes up one-sixth of a room's total area. Updating your home's ceilings will net a lot of bang for the buck while adding architectural interest. First, if you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a contractor to scrape them smooth. To add a sophisticated custom look to a smooth ceiling, install crown molding or box beams for a coffered look. Ceiling millwork, an attractive feature prevalent in older homes, is rarely found in newer construction. Adding small touches like these will help your home stand out from the pack.
I hesitated to add this to the list, because sometimes helping hurts, if you know what I mean! The same thing goes for doing it yourself. If you end up messing things up and have to hire someone to come fix it, then you’ve added expense to your project rather than saving money. But if you have electrician friends who’ve offered to help, or someone who has laid flooring in their home and has the equipment and experience, definitely take the help! But be judicious with who you allow to help, and make sure you communicate whether or not financial compensation is expected in exchange. Trading professional services is one way everybody wins in this type of scenario.
Before you even call a remodeling company for your bathroom remodel, you should first talk with everyone who will be using the space. Try to have a discussion about the fixtures and finishes you are supposed to use and how much of a budget you’re willing to shell out. As you plan for your budget, it’s important to have a little extra, because you never know if there will be some unexpected problems that will increase the cost later on.

Of course, finding less expensive ways to do expensive-looking things doesn’t begin and end at IKEA. All you need is a little creativity (and maybe a little help from design blogs) to come up with a less expensive way to do a project you’ve been dreaming of. I was able to create this large dynamic wall of chunky shelves for very little money by polishing up construction-grade lumber, and Laura made her closet doors look brand new with a little applied moulding. If you don’t want to shell out a lot of money to replace your laminate countertops, you could refinish them with concrete feather finish like Josh did in the Habitat House. And if you like shiplap and want to make it on the cheap, try using inexpensive lauan instead of shiplap siding! You’re really only limited by your creativity or your internet connection!


Shop around quite a bit before hiring professional help with your project. Elsie has mentioned that in order to save money, she didn’t use a general contractor initially when renovating her home. This ended up causing a lot of stress because of all of the organization involved with using different skilled workers in a project. You should check out the post she wrote about renovation mistakes, especially the parts about hiring out help. I don’t have too much experience with that aspect of home renovations, though I did hire someone to lay the stone veneer for our fireplace and also hired a crew to do some subfloor work and drywalling when I was too busy to do it myself last summer.
For those who are thinking of putting their home up for sale five years from now, then it’s important to ensure that the value of your property would increase over time, consider having your home renovated for that purpose. On the other hand, if you’re planning to live in your home for a couple of years, it’s very important to ensure that the design of your bathroom is something you would really love and fit with your style and preferences.

However, if you’re considering a home renovation, think practically about what you can and cannot do; painting the walls of a small bathroom may be totally feasible by yourself, but painting all of the walls of a 4,000-square-foot house is likely less so. While you may think you would be saving a lot of money by doing the work yourself, if it is something unfamiliar, it might cost even more to have a professional undo and then properly complete the project. 
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