If you are ready to start the New Year off with home improvement ideas in mind, you are not alone. The New Year is an excellent time to consider adding on to your home before the spring, as well as completing indoor projects while the weather is cold. Home improvements can range from upgrading existing fixtures and finishes to knocking down walls and adding on square footage. Whichever improvements you have in mind, use these 10 tips to guide you throughout the planning process.

1.)    Assess your home: Determine the current state of your home and what ideas you want to implement. Walk through your home and determine what wish list items are, and what necessity items are. A wish list item could be upgrading to granite countertops, while a necessity item could be leaky plumbing pipes that have to be replaced as soon as possible.

2.)    How long do you plan to be in your home: If you are planning on selling your home this year, your budget for improvements may be different from your neighbor who’s only lived in their home for a year. If you want to get your return on investment (ROI), ensure you upgrade the parts of your home that home buyers are interested in.

3.)    Seek out inspiration now: From magazines, to color swatches from your favorite paint store, seek out inspiration ideas now. Don’t wait until the DIY nudge strikes, and then you are trying to get ideas, pay for materials, and complete the project. The more you do ahead of time, the more stress free your project will be.

4.)    Know your budget: After the holidays, money is often tight for many home owners. Instead of getting discouraged, use the first few months of the New Year to plan your project and budget without stress. Often times money actually makes you more anxious, and delaying the money portion might help you price out materials, labor, and the time it will take to complete the project.

5.)    Ask for help early: How many do it yourself reality television shows do you see that the friends or family member do not stay or show up for the home improvement project? Start early in asking for help and what expertise area your help can provide. Seek out several “back up” friends, for the off chance that your help isn’t so helpful!

6.)    Seek out the proper permits: If you are doing a home improvement project which requires electricity, plumbing, structural or other trades that may involve permits, seek these out in advance. Hire a professional general contractor or trades person if you are unclear of what permits are required.

7.)    Be flexible: Even though you would like your new kitchen remodel done in 8 weeks, the reality is it may take 12 weeks. The same is true for budget, and resources. Try and become more flexible with your planning and factor in extra buffer time and money for your own sanity.

8.)    Communicate with your partner(s): Have a clear idea of what the project entails with your partners in the beginning. Ensure each person knows their roles, and ask them to choose what they are good at, rather than only assigning duties. This will free up finger pointing throughout the project, and take pressure off of you.

9.)    Use safety precautions: Every home improvement project involves a level of safety to ensure your home and yourself do not get hurt. Follow instructions on power tools, and seek out tutorials or advice from tool rental store associates for help, before you start your project.

10.)   Have a good time: Even though there is a serious side to home improvement, it should also be fun and rewarding. If you aren’t going to enjoy your hard work and effort, hire a professional and leave the hard work to them.

Home improvement projects can be a great way to kick off the New Year and get your home in order for the upcoming months. Follow these 10 tips to help you plan your project and gain inspiration and budgeting ideas. Believe it or not, home improvement is easier than you think with patience and fact finding before you get into your project. Happy home improving into the New Year!

Freshome reader’s tell us your plans for home improvements this year!