The Big Do's and Don'ts of Home Improvement Projects

Everyone knows that granite countertops and energy efficient appliances are highly recommended moves in the home improvement department, but working beyond that can get a little tricky. What do you do with an HVAC system that isn't very old yet underachieving? How difficult is it for an ambitious DIY homeowner thinking about replacing old windows? Before you get in over your head, check out this list of major do's and don'ts in the home improvement department.

DO know what you are in for when you start out on some project along the lines of window replacement. If you want to know how well you could handle such a project, pick a room like the kitchen or office, some place which has only one or two windows and see how you do. If your first move is a success, keep going.

DON'T order a house's worth of windows before you are sure you can handle it. You'll put yourself in a situation that only be described as 'deeply compromised.'

DO keep an eye on your energy costs. If it looks as if the amount of energy you are using keeps going up, it may be time for some new appliances. The energy efficient models on the market today can also give the kitchen a boost in terms of style.

DON'T act as if an old refrigerator is doing fine just because your drinks are usually cold. What level of cold do you need to set it at in the hottest months? If it has to be on 'Coldest' for you to get there, it is not performing at peak levels.

DO focus on your bathroom, especially if you are considering selling your home any time in the near future. Real estate agents will take you right to this room when you are trying to settle on a price. Appraisals in the future will only confirm this point.

DON'T neglect areas like a basement that hasn't been finished. If you are leaving such areas of livable space unfinished, you are doing everyone in your family a disservice and not maximizing the potential value of your home. Take the time to make it livable.

DO start slowly and finish each renovation job you start at home before moving on to the next one. Nothing is finished until all the tools are put away and the area is clean. The last minute snafus will haunt you if you jump the gun in this department. Include your paint finishing as a necessary part of this process, as it can make or break a job.

DON'T make the mistake of miscalculating while budgeting. There is a price for what you wish a project would cost and there is a price for what it actually will cost. Don't confuse them; remember that the materials you need for finishing and cleaning should be had beforehand. Otherwise, the budget will be off and you will have to adjust once more.