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Despite supply chain delays and material shortages, more people than ever are tackling their list of remodels. From 2020 to 2021, Angi saw a 25 percent increase in home improvement spending. But where are homeowners (and even renters!) spending all of those hard-earned funds? Using Google Trends data, the site that specializes in vetting pros looked state to state to see exactly why everyone is reaching for their power drill. 

Surprisingly, the most popular project by far isn’t even a true renovation. In seven states, the top searched upgrade is landscaping. Close behind are updating drab kitchen cabinets, installing a patio, and finishing a basement, but they’re also three of the ones least likely to be completed within the year (a bathroom revamp rounded out the top five). 

Reno timelines and costs can stretch exponentially if you’re not careful. Four weeks can quickly become six, and material overages can add up, so it’s easy to see why some renovators might throw in the towel early. To make the most of your time (and money), we’ve gathered our top tips to help speed up the process and keep you in good graces with your contractor.

Courtesy of Angi.

Do: Meet Face-to-Face

Before hiring anyone, or signing a contract, suggest a site visit with any potential contractors or project managers, notes Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten. This will let you gauge the working relationship and allow them to provide as accurate an estimate as possible. Be prepared with a list of questions (are they licensed and insured?) and don’t be afraid to say if it’s not the right fit.

Don’t: Underestimate Your DIY Skills

To save on labor costs, think of parts of the project you can do yourself, like painting the walls or installing hardware. Alex McCrery and Jenny Goodman hired a team for their Hudson, New York, kitchen renovation, but then built their dining nook themselves for just $250. 

Do: Advocate for Yourself (and Your Ideas)

The phrase the customer is always right doesn’t always apply to construction projects; that’s why you hire professionals. But stick to your guns. If you’ve spent all that time planning, and you know what you want, don’t let your crew persuade you into anything less than perfect, be it wonky outlet placement or a sad baseboard paint job. You’ll get your dream bathroom (or kitchen or basement), and you won’t have to worry about fixing it six months later. Designer Britney Johnson recommends discussing the schedule with your crew every Friday when everyone is in a good mood and looking forward to the weekend.

Don’t: Let Materials Go to Waste

Most often, tile and wood companies will recommend you buy a bit more than you need, just in case. Bozenka Shepherd, cofounder of Woodward Throwbacks, advises using the extra pieces to make shelves or even a coffee table. It’s more sustainable than throwing it all away, plus it will save you money (and storage space) down the line.