December 3, 2008  
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Featured Issue: Budget Setting and Financing

Remodeling project costs have a way of escalating wildly during the design and construction process. Take these steps before you actually begin keep costs under control.

1. Set priorities and know what you can actually afford
Don't put your family's security in jeopardy. If it's a choice between upgrading the kitchen or repairing a worn out roof, do the roof job first. Low-cost kitchen makeovers usually re-coup their cost at sale.

2. Have financing in hand before you begin
Yes, the cost of borrowing is at its lowest in years, but don't rush into a loan. Shop around for the best deal. Read the fine print. Be sure to get all closing costs, in writing, prior to signing any agreement.

3. Don't over-improve for your neighborhood
Your home should keep pace with area home improvements, not exceed them. Be sure you know what the average home value is in your area, in order to avoid over-spending on a remodel.

4. Itemize the MUST-have features
Decide, in advance, the special features you feel you MUST have, and be prepared to cut corners, or to reduce the overall size of the project, in order to come in on-budget.

5. Don't scrimp on plumbing fixtures
This is one place never to cut corners for cost savings. Insist on plumbing fixtures above builder grade. You'll be glad you did.

6. Don't begin construction until the design phase is complete
Cost over-runs occur notoriously on projects that have missing components at the time construction begins. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road if you avoid the temptation to OK start of a project while design questions linger.

Now you're ready to continue on to Contractor Selection.

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