BBB: How to make your next home improvement project a success | business

Whether you are remodeling your home, making needed repairs, or sprucing things up to put your house on the market, consider the following before you get started.

“Coming up with a budget and a plan will help you set realistic expectations,” said Mechele Agbayani, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “I 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 determine how much you can spend ahead of time. Be upfront with the contractors you hire about how much you can spend on a project.”

Think about the pros and cons of DIY projects. If time and motivation are 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, hiring a contractor to help with larger projects, such as plumbing, tiling, tree removal, exterior painting, and general remodeling, can save you a lot of headaches.

Give high priority to projects that keep your home clean and safe. If your home needs repairs, take care of those projects first. For example, you may consider fixing that leaky roof before doing something which is more cosmetic in nature. 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 specializing in construction and remodeling services.

Improve energy efficiency. Save money (and the environment) by improving your home’s energy efficiency. Energy-saving projects include checking and replacing the seals on all windows and ducts in your 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, get multiple quotes from several companies. Never be pressured into hiring the first person you speak with. Use BBB’s free get a quote program to find a skilled contractor you can trust.

Properly vet contractors before you hire. Even if the price is right, don’t hire a contractor before researching. 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 a 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 your 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 by “home improvement specialists.” Red flags include not putting things into writing, demanding upfront payments, unexpected price changes, high-pressure sales tactics, unsolicited free inspections (which usually reveal the need for an urgent repair), and cash-only deals.

More information

See BBB’s Home HQ for tips on everything in and around your home.

Learn more about hiring a contractor on BBB.org. Search BBB.org to find reputable roofers, painters, plumbers, and lawn maintenance specialists in your area. To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.

BBB is a non-profit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB offices can be founded across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.