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How to survive remodeling your home

HOUSTON – This is going to be a busy year for home improvement according to contractors in the remodeling industry.  So, before you hire a contractor make sure you do these four things:

-Get three written estimates for costs and timeline

-Check references

-Verify licenses

-And read the contract carefully,

When the project is ready to start, Angie Hicks with Angie's List says be  prepared for unexpected expenses and unexpected stress.

"We all worry about how much it's going to cost and how long the project's going to take, but what you don't realize is that you're going to have contractors living with you, and you might be cooking your dinner in the living room," Hicks said.

Hicks adds the key to minimizing that stress,  is good planning and communication.

"My best advice is to be sure that you're meeting regularly with your head contractor. Whether it's every morning before they get started, or at least once a week, because that way you can cover things that come up real time, instead of letting them blow up into bigger problems," she explained.

Contractor Andy Peabody says those discussions should include where materials and tools will be stored, where the crew will go to the bathroom and how early they'll start hammering in the morning.

"If there's an area of the house that homeowners absolutely don't want work to be done in, that needs to be discussed ahead of time," Peabody said.

Even the best planning doesn't always make the jobs go perfectly. Contractors say they often run into existing problems  before they can get back to the planned remodeling project. That adds to the time on the job, as well as the budget.

"I will plan a little bit of contingency into my own budget. It also doesn't hurt for the homeowners to plan a little bit just to make sure they can cover any additional costs without stretching the budget too thinly," Peabody said.

Hicks recommends setting aside at least 10 percent of your estimated project cost as a contingency fund and to add at least a week to the expected end date of your project. If all goes well that extra time and money is just a bonus.

Angie's list says $10,000 will get you new bathroom fixtures, a new toilet and a tile floor.

For $30,000 you can get a complete bathroom remodel, including the shower and a new kitchen with laminate countertops.

For $60,000 you can upgrade that kitchen with granite countertops, custom cabinets, a heated floor and all new appliances.