Is your home showing signs of wear and tear, presenting a worn and sad face to the world? Updating and remodeling are an ideal way to enhance the appearance, functionality, enjoyment, and value of your home. While home improvement is a great way to make your home a reflection of your personality, it is important to do a bit of planning and research before you begin. Do The Research Visit open houses, review decorating magazines, and visit home and garden shows for ideas and inspiration. There are so many new and innovative decorating trends and eco-friendly building products; you will want a clear idea in mind of your personal preferences. Prioritize Your Projects Like most homeowners, you probably have several ideas for home improvement projects that you would like to accomplish to improve the quality of your home and enhance your lifestyle. Replacing weather stripping and adding insulation to the attic should perhaps take priority over building an outdoor fireplace. Evaluate Your Reasons For Remodeling First of all, consider if you plan to remain in the home for many years or if you are contemplating selling the property within the next five years. Some projects such as adding an in-ground swimming pool can offer years of enjoyment, but you may not recover your investment were you to put the house up for sale. On the other hand, a new roof adds to the value of the property and immediately impacts the home’s appeal to potential buyers. Decide On A Budget Many homeowners report they have “champagne taste and a beer budget.” It is wise to keep in mind that you can’t really enjoy your new media room if you spend all your time worrying about how your are going to pay for it. Not to worry. If you plan a budget for your project, you can stick to it by finding substitutes for some materials and products that will produce the same or similar appearance and functionality. Selecting laminate flooring instead of solid hardwood flooring is but one example. Determine If You Need A Professional Contractor Unless you are an experienced “do-it-yourself” type of homeowner, many jobs such as plumbing, roofing, electrical wiring, and masonry are best left to a professional contractor. On major jobs, even if you think you will do-it-yourself, it is wise to request bids from at least two independent reputable contractors. Not only will you learn someone else’s approach to the project, you may find that when you consider the time involved and that you may not have the appropriate skills, tools or equipment for the job, it is more time and cost efficient to hire a contractor.