Ask any homeowner if there’s something they’d like to change or improve upon in their home, and odds are high that you’ll hear a wish list a mile long. Even the nicest, most up-to-date spaces have areas homeowners want to enhance. Perhaps space is used inefficiently, or the kitchen needs an update, or perhaps there are structural issues that need attention.

Yes, homes are our biggest investments, and as such, they should be maintained accordingly, which can often require more than just a fresh coat of paint. It often means a remodel is in order, and based on this study released late last year, home improvement and repair spending is big business. In fact, the United States will max out at about $317 billion spent on home remodeling and repair work in 2017. Yes, that’s billion. With a “b.”

Think you're ready to remodel? Make sure you're taking all aspects into account.

Think you’re ready to remodel? Make sure you’re taking all aspects into account.

With that kind of money being spent, it’s obvious that these projects aren’t ones to be taken lightly. And yet, what many homeowners don’t realize is that sometimes things can quickly get out of hand.

“We were in the midst of a home remodel when the builder discovered that some of our plumbing was bad in a bathroom we never used,” says Nashville homeowner Ashley Fletcher. “There had been a slow water leak we weren’t aware of, which led to a decent amount of damage that needed to be repaired as part of the remodel.” The additional work was unanticipated and brought added — and unexpected — costs. “It was not cheap,” Ashley continues, “and it was not accounted for in our loan.”

While it’s nearly impossible to have a seamless experience with nary a hiccup, there are definitely steps to take and things to consider before any work commences on a home remodel. Here are five of the most important things to consider before you remodel to ensure that the project goes as smoothly as possible.

5 Things to Consider Before a Remodel

1. What is your goal?

It’s a simple question and seems so obvious, yet it bears repeating. What are you hoping to accomplish with your remodel? Gain more space? Update certain features? Transition to a green home? Establish what you want to accomplish before you even contact an architect or start sourcing bids. Have it in writing to ensure your project doesn’t get sidetracked by well-intentioned yet potentially costly suggestions that can often lead to more work than you had anticipated.

2. Are you financially prepared for a remodel?

Before you begin a major project on your home, it’s best to have a straight-forward chat with your banker. “Talk through your cash flow and debt management plan,” suggests Matt Gore, Consumer Banking Manager at Regions, in this article. “Your banker can help you start your project with realistic goals.”

If you’ve saved for the project, but are still coming up short on funds, there are several options for financing a project. Consider the equity you may have in your home and leverage it through a home equity loan or line of credit, which may provide lower interest rates and longer repayment terms. If an unexpected and unfunded expense comes up suddenly, as they often do in remodels, an unsecured personal loan may have a higher interest rate, but it may also be approved within three or four business days.

Once you have established the magic number of what you can afford and you have chosen (and qualified for) the best financing option, it’s time to get some bids. And by “some,” we mean several. “When we started getting bids for our remodel, one contractor came in really low, and while tempting, we were concerned that he was simply trying to get our business with a low number, but that the work would be reflective of that,” shares Ashley Fletcher, who ultimately went with a slightly higher bid from a contractor with plenty of positive referrals to back up his work.

3. Should you expand or simply reimagine your space?

It’s common for people considering a remodel to look beyond their current space and immediately think of adding on to their home. However, sometimes simple tweaks to your existing layout can actually create more livable space, which can solve the issue of feeling cramped. Perhaps you have rooms you don’t use that, if a wall is removed, could open up two rooms, thereby creating one larger space. Removing a wall is a lot less expensive than building an additional space from the ground up.

Look at your space and determine if you can accomplish your goals by simply moving a wall or window within the existing footprint, or if an addition is needed.

Look at your space and determine if you can accomplish your goals by simply moving a wall or window within the existing footprint, or if an addition is needed.

4. Are the bones of your house sound?

Before you remodel, particularly if you live in an older or historic home, it may be worth it to consult with a structural engineer to ensure the home is sound, the foundation is solid and the house is equipped to handle the work being planned. It’s an out-of-pocket expense that could ultimately save you thousands of dollars.

5. Have you hired a designer?

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again. If your strong suit isn’t interior design, then work with a professional interior designer from the very beginning. This person can work closely with your contractor (make sure your contractor is licensed and get references!) to bring your dreams to life. If you’re committing to the cost of the remodel, there’s really no room for the completed project to be anything less than perfect.

Work with a designer on everything from selecting paint colors to buying furniture. It's a worthwhile expense to ensure you get the perfect finished product!

Work with a designer on everything from selecting paint colors to buying furniture. It’s a worthwhile expense to ensure you get the perfect finished product!

Now that you’re ready to get started, check out this home remodeling checklist, and then learn more from the financial experts at Regions Bank, who will help you get started on creating an all new space to call home!

This article is sponsored by Regions Bank.