How to make your next home improvement project a success

Whether you are remodeling your home, making needed repairs, or sprucing things up to put your house on the market, the following tips will help make your next home improvement project a success.

  • Come up with a budget and stick to it. Home improvement projects can get expensive, fast. If you don’t want to break the bank, create a realistic budget to figure out how much you can spend ahead of time. Be upfront with contractors you hire about how much you can spend on a project as well.
  • Think about the pros and cons of DIY projects. If time and motivation is no problem for you, you may be able to tackle some basic home improvement projects on your own, but other projects may require further expertise. If you don’t have a background in construction, it’s usually best to hire a contractor to help with larger projects, such as plumbing, tiling, tree removal, exterior painting, and general remodels.
  • Give high priority to projects that keep your home clean and safe. If your home is in need of repairs, take care of those projects first. For example, fix that leaky roof before you give your home’s walls a fresh coat of paint. In addition, don’t forget to stay on top of regular home maintenance tasks to maximize the cleanliness and safety of your home.
  • Up the value of your home with a bathroom or kitchen remodel. Remodeling your bathroom or kitchen can completely change the look and feel of your home, creating a space you enjoy being in – not to mention it can add quite a bit of value to your home. For large scale remodels, hire a contractor that specializes in construction and remodeling services.
  • Improve energy efficiency. Save money (and the environment) by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Energy saving projects that are worth taking on include checking and replacing the seals on all windows and ducts in you home, installing new windows, and looking into green energy options like solar panels.
  • Get multiple quotes from contractors. When you are ready to start your home improvement project, be sure to get multiple quotes from several different companies. Never be pressured into hiring the first person you speak with. Comparing pricing and services is a critical step in choosing a skilled contractor you can trust.
  • Properly vet contractors before you hire. Even if the price is right, don’t hire a contractor before doing some research. Ask the contractor to provide references. Look up their name or company name online and pay close attention to any reviews or complaints from previous customers. Verify that the contractor is licensed and insured and get an estimate and contract in writing. Read contracts carefully before you sign them.
  • Think about permits. For larger projects, you may need to pay for building permits. Do you research ahead of time and understand that even if you hire a contractor, you may still be responsible for the cost of the permits.
  • Don’t get scammed. Stay alert to any suspicious behavior on the part of “home improvement specialists.” Red flags include not putting things into writing, demanding upfront payment, unexpected price changes, high-pressure sales tactics, unsolicited free inspections (that usually reveal the need for an urgent repair), and cash-only deals.

9 Bathroom Remodel Ideas To Consider

A bathroom remodel, or even a simple bathroom update, is a project that can significantly improve the look and feel of your home without significantly reducing the amount of money in your home improvement budget.

Are some bathroom design elements expensive? Absolutely. But no matter how much (or how little) cash you have set aside for this project, you have options that will inspire you to place ‘remodel bathroom’ at the top of your to-do list.

What Is a Bathroom Remodel?

Falling somewhere between ‘refresh’ and ‘complete renovation,’ a bathroom remodel is a process that allows you to make your current bathroom more functional without requiring you to tear down walls and remove all of the cabinets.

Think changing colors, refinishing surfaces, replacing fixtures (like old toilets and tubs) and making sure everything is aligned with current safety standards.

Here are nine ideas to get you started on your bathroom remodel.

1. Install a Freestanding Bathtub

“Built-in deck bathtubs used to be the thing, but now they look dated and take up a lot of space,” Ariana Lovato, owner of Honeycomb Home Design in Shell Beach, California, told Forbes Advisor.

Instead, she recommends freestanding bathtubs, which are elegant, chic and timeless. The one caveat? Freestanding tubs can be hard to get in and out of for some people, so keep that in mind before you commit.

2. Select an Undermount Sink

Undermount sinks are known for the sleek design, but one of their best features is the fact that they are so much easier to clean than their traditional overmount counterparts, Lovato says.

What exactly is an undermount sink? As the name implies, it is one that you install from beneath the countertop (overmounts, on the other hand, are dropped in from above).

Available in a range of colors, styles and price points, adding an undermount sink to your bathroom is an upgrade won’t regret—and one that will likely leave you wondering why you waited so long to make the switch.

3. Upgrade Your Toilet

While a basic toilet gets the job done, a bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to switch the basic out for something a little more luxurious. One of the obvious choices, Lovato says, is to add a bidet (something that feels almost like a requirement after the great toilet paper shortage of 2020).

However, you don’t have to stop there—today’s toilet manufactures are incorporating heated seats, automatic flushing, self-cleaning and smart technology into their designs.

4. Consider a Medicine Cabinet

Wait, a medicine cabinet? Aren’t they a little on the antiquated side? Believe it or not, medicine cabinets are making a comeback, says Lovato. And today’s medicine cabinets are a far cry from the medicine cabinets of yore, she says, explaining that you can now find medicine cabinets that offer just as much in terms of design appeal as they do in space to store your ibuprofen. Some higher-end medicine cabinets even incorporate USB ports so you can keep all those electric toothbrushes hidden behind closed doors.

5. Add Steam to Your Shower

These days, everyone is looking for ways to incorporate a little self-care into the daily routine. One way to do this, Lovato says, is by replacing your regular shower with a steam shower. Steam showers essentially re-create the spa experience at home, and some even incorporate aromatherapy, Wi-Fi, lighting and other high-tech features.

Naturally, steam showers aren’t going to be easy on everyone’s budget—but if you have the resources, this is a bathroom remodeling project that you most certainly will not regret.

6. Contemplate Your Color Palette

Whoever decided that a bathroom had to be neutral in color? The truth is, the bathroom is just as apt to benefit from a color scheme change than any other room in your house. So, instead of going for the color you think should go in a bathroom, select colors that you love.

This may result in bright green cabinets, pink tile or dark walls that coordinate perfectly with your vinyl flooring. All are acceptable, as long as you like it—just be sure to think about whether the color scheme is something you are willing to either live with or modify in the event that your taste changes in the future.

7. Prioritize Lighting

If the only lighting in your bathroom comes from the bulbs above your vanity, you are probably not getting the most out of your personal grooming routine. Vanity lighting is important, but you’ll enjoy your bathroom much more if that isn’t all you have. Options include adding ambient lighting fixtures around the bathroom or bringing in some accent lighting into the space (this is a light fixture that is as much about looks as it is about function). You can install shower lighting, as well.

8. Install a Ventilation Fan

If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, now is the time to put one in (plus, it is now a code requirement). Fans allow air to circulate so mold is kept at bay, and they also reduce moisture and humidity (especially helpful for anyone who decides to get on the steam shower bandwagon).

When installing a fan, make sure it exhausts to your home’s exterior (not to your attic). Concerned about noise? No worries—many modern fans are as quiet as they are effective at minimizing moisture.

9. Incorporate Storage Solutions

If you’ve ever stepped out of the shower to discover that you forgot to grab a towel from the hallway linen closet, you’ll understand why adding storage is an essential component of any bathroom remodeling project. And believe it or not, you can find space for storage even in the smallest of bathrooms.

Hooks and baskets are no-nonsense, but you can also incorporate built-ins or install floating shelves (and don’t forget about the trusty medicine cabinet mentioned above). And if you have enough room for dedicated bathroom storage cabinets, definitely go for it—you’ll never regret having a convenient place to keep towels, extra shampoo and all those other bathroom incidentals.












Hire Smart for Home Remodeling

When you decide to make the investment in a home improvement project, you’re likely entrusting a professional contractor to bring your vision to life on time and on budget.

Remodeling contractors are diverse, so it’s important to take your time, ask lots of questions and do your research before selecting the right one for the job. Keep in mind these considerations from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry:

Choose local. A local home improvement contractor with an established business in your area is likely connected to your community and has a vested interest in doing a job well. Referrals are an important source of business for local companies, so local remodelers are typically compelled to perform quality work that satisfies their customers in order for their businesses to survive.

Discuss experience. While a skilled remodeler may be willing to take on something new, chances are you’ll be best served by working with someone who has experience with your specific project. A learning curve can be expensive, and the results aren’t always exactly as you hope. Talk about similar projects the contractor has completed in the past and how that work compares to what you’re planning. Also be sure to ask what, if any, outside certifications a contractor may have earned that are pertinent to the project.

Understand staffing. Be sure you’re clear about who will be in your home completing the work, whether it’s the person you meet to discuss a bid or an assigned team. Ask who the project supervisor will be, and if any work is to be subcontracted, who is ultimately responsible for those tasks.

Check references. A reputable contractor should be able to produce a list of past customers who can attest to the remodeler’s workmanship and service. You can contact the government Consumer Affairs Office and the Better Business Bureau to check for complaints on record for the contractor. Also ask if the remodeler is a member of any trade groups or associations.

Verify licensing. Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed, bonded or both. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets all requirements. Ask the remodeling contractor for current copies of applicable licenses.

Confirm insurance. Ask to see a copy of the remodeling contractor’s certification of insurance or the name of his or her insurance agency to verify coverage. Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements.

Compare bids. There are a number of different factors that go into pricing a remodeling project. Be sure that every estimate reflects the same scope of work. If the estimates don’t fully spell out what work is going to be done, go back to the contractor for clarification in writing.

Home remodeling projects that will bring you the most return on investment

Sometimes a home improvement project comes from an obvious need for more space or a repair that morphs into a renovation.

In other cases, homeowners may be undecided about whether to upgrade their bathroom first or tackle the exterior of their home.

We asked two experts to provide some insight into how homeowners can raise their home value while making improvements. The following commentary was supplied via email by Jeremy Sicklick, CEO and co-founder of HouseCanary, a real estate analytics firm that provides home valuations; and Michael Rodriguez, senior vice president and head of the free to consumers ComeHome, a division of HouseCanary where homeowners can view projects with the highest return on investment, connect with licensed professionals and secure financing for home renovations

Before the onset of covid-19, significant home upgrades could reduce the time a home spent on the market by about 11 days. Now, due to the supply-constrained real estate market, demand for properties is higher than ever and while upgrades may not have the same influential impact on time spent on the market, they have proved to significantly bolster the value of homes.

Throughout the second half of 2020, some homeowners were able to increase the value of their properties by more than 25 percent through simple home improvements. For example, our data shows that remodeling an outdated kitchen and bathroom can increase the value of a home by approximately 27 percent.

Concurrently, since March — when the health crisis forced millions of Americans to work from home — the number of home improvement projects in the U.S. skyrocketed to all-time highs.

As more homeowners begin to embark on renovation projects, it is critical to understand exactly how much value home improvements can bring to a property. There are a few ways to estimate a home project’s cost. One place to start is ComeHome.

Generally, according to ComeHome:

  • Remodeling an outdated bathroom increases the value of the home by 12 percent.
  • Remodeling an outdated kitchen increases the value of the home by 19 percent.
  • Remodeling both and outdated kitchen and bathroom increases the value of the home by 27 percent.

Which home improvements provide the biggest bang for their buck?

Through our partnership with HomeAdvisor, we’ve found that the five upgrades with the highest return on investment include garage door replacements (97.5 percent ROI), manufactured stone veneers (94.9 percent), minor kitchen remodeling (80.5 percent), deck additions (75.6 percent) and entry door replacements (74.9 percent).

Larger renovations, such as adding a home office or a deck, finishing your basement or updating kitchens, can also add meaningful value to your home. These are all particularly appealing to home buyers during the pandemic — when 85 percent of people are spending more time in their homes — and more open, bright and convenient layouts are all top of mind for homeowners and prospective buyers alike.

Remodeling during covid-19

Not only have people completed more home projects than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, but the last 10 months have had a definite impact on which — and how many — home projects people completed. Because of the increased time spent at home, homeowners have required more from their homes as they cook, work and find new ways to entertain from home.

Through our partnership with HomeAdvisor, we’ve found that the top three completed home projects in 2020 were, in order: interior painting, bathroom remodels and the installation of new flooring. As we enter into 2021, we anticipate that completed home updates will continue to rise and that the most popular home improvement projects will likely remain the same.

Ready to pull the plug on your old bathtub? Consider a refresh.

Rub-a-dub-dub — eww, is that Victorian-era rust or some unidentifiable stain in your tub? Whether they’re cast iron, steel or fiberglass, all bathtubs (and the bottoms of composite showers) eventually start to show their age or, sometimes, poor maintenance.

Replacing the thing is always an option. But while tubs themselves are often downright cheap to purchase (drop-in styles can cost less than $150), the labor to remove an old model, install a new one, and fix all the tile, moldings and fixtures in and around it could make the project run hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

That’s why — especially if you watch a lot of late-night TV — you see those ads for bathtub refinishing or lining. Both processes use your existing tub and cost less than a major tub or bathroom remodel, but they’re quite different. Some are performed by general bath remodeling companies; others by outfits that spiff up tubs only. And while there are do-it-yourself refinishing kits, the contractors and other pros we spoke with insist that these produce a grainy, hand-painted surface that tends to peel after a few months’ use.

Refinishing, the cheaper of the two processes (usually $300 to $1,000, with claw-foot tubs running the highest), works on cast iron, steel and fiberglass tubs. It involves stripping the existing model’s enamel with hydrofluoric acid and then applying two coats of epoxy. After this, the tech cleans the tub to remove any dust or dirt and then sprays on four coats of shiny polyurethane, sanding coats in between.

The new old tub must then dry for about a day. And because the chemicals applied are smelly and potentially harmful if inhaled too deeply, the pros will need to tent the area. You might also want to vacate the house for a few hours or for the day after the process. Refinishing can smooth out imperfections, change the color of your tub’s interior (or exterior, but that costs more) and remove discolorations like rust rings. While the resulting surface is a bit more delicate than the original finish (no scrubbing with abrasive spongers or cleaners), its surface should look and wear like the tub’s original surface for up to 15 years.

Relining, in essence, coats the existing tub or shower base with a thin, made-to-measure liner formed from a quarter-inch-thick piece of acrylic. This doesn’t work on fiberglass or acrylic tubs, since the liner could damage the material underneath. And free-standing tubs can’t be covered by a liner, either.

For cast-iron or steel tubs, a bathtub lining company comes out to take measurements; four to six weeks later, it returns with a factory-made liner that, in theory, is an exact mold of your existing tub. Technicians slip the liner over the tub and its skirt, using an epoxy primer to prep the old tub. The new skin bonds with the old tub, and — if you’ve hired a good company — it shouldn’t leak or detach for up to 20 years. However, relining is a more involved process than refinishing and costs more, usually $1,000 to $1,500 for a simple tub.

While both methods are generally cheaper than installing a whole new tub, keep in mind that relined tubs tend to look like plastic. And while in theory they shouldn’t leak, the space between the old tub and its new skin can become mold-infested if a technician doesn’t install the thing properly (or if the liner doesn’t fit properly). Refinishing looks better, and since most tubs can be refinished multiple times, you won’t take a bath financially.

If you’re thinking of rehabbing your tub, first ask if it’s worth it. If you hate its size or style, or if it’s seriously damaged (holes, structural issues), a makeover might not be worth the cash. But if it is in good shape except for the finish, draw up a list of possible pros using the aforementioned customer reviews. Then call or email several companies and ask for price quotes. Ask to see before-and-after photos of finished work, and if they have a showroom you can visit (some outfits do). Get at least three fixed-price bids — and make sure companies know you’re shopping around so they compete for your business.

Once you decide to take the plunge with a bath refinishing pro, get its pricing and guarantees or warranties in writing. Ask how they’ll protect the existing bathroom elements and vent any chemical odors.

Arrange to pay as little as possible until the work is finished and you’re happy with your new soak spot. Then pour in the Mr. Bubble and enjoy!