Are home renovations part of your 2018 plan? Before you take on more than you can financially handle, make sure to do your research. Building a realistic budget, tackling projects room by room, and determining what requires professional help vs. things you can DIY will help save you a ton of money in the long run. Here are four useful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Prioritize your projects.

You may have a list a mile long of updates you would love to make in your home. But it’s not always easy to afford it all at once. That’s why it’s good to choose one project per year to focus on. Also, remember sometimes replacement projects aren’t fun, but sometimes you have to invest in practical maintenance too!

  1. Set your deadline and budget.

There are some instances where you may need to make several updates in a short period of time. For example, if you are selling your home unexpectedly you may have no choice but to make the updates in order to get the full-price value of the home. If you are like many, plan to make updates over time, set deadlines that best work for your financial situation. Perhaps you would love a finished basement and your kids are currently elementary-aged. A good goal might be to finish the basement once they hit middle school and require more space. It’s never too early to begin researching how much a future project will cost, how long it will take, and professionals you may like to hire. This will give you a clear understanding of how long it will take you to save for your deadline.

  1. Pay it forward.

To pay for each year’s project in cash (as opposed to financing it), you can build a ‘home renovation’ category into your monthly budget. You would divide the total cost of the project that you want to do in the coming year by 12 and pay that amount to your savings each month from January to December. Once January rolls around the following year, you have the savings ready to go!

  1. DIY or hire it out?

This can be a difficult choice! While anything can be done with a little willpower and patience, sometimes a lack of proper expertise, equipment and time may outweigh the benefits of DIY. There are, of course, so many other factors to consider than just the hard cost.

Right now, painting wood cabinetry is very trendy. Depending on your wood grain, this is typically a time-intensive job that requires specific tools, a steady hand and many steps (and hours) to do it properly. While DIY projects are incredibly rewarding, challenge your assumptions and research how much a professional would cost. Then carefully weigh your options. It might be more affordable than you think! If you choose to hire, seek a direct referral from a close contact so you can visit their home and see the work up close.

Home renovations don’t have to stay on your Pinterest board. You can bring them to life with smart planning, sensible budgeting and a realistic timeline your whole family can get behind.