If you're considering remodeling or are in the throes of plans for new materials, fixtures, and appliances, then you know that choosing your products and staying within budget can be a huge challenge. But it can be done.
On the back of the strong housing market, thousands of Americans are improving their homes.
"Given a resilient housing market and low interest rates, homeowners continue to reinvest in their homes in the midst of a sputtering economy," said Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, in July.
And the National Association of Homebuilders reported earlier this month that professional remodelers were busier in this year's second quarter than any other period in the past two years.
If you're remodeling, you know the confusion that festers when it comes to deciding which flooring and countertop materials, which appliances, and which fixtures will function best in your house, look good, and stay within your budget.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry says it can be difficult to tell at face value if a product is reliable and if it will last.
Contractors affiliated with NARI say there are many considerations to keep in mind, including:
If energy efficiency and saving money on your utility bills are a priority, then you'll want to look for an Energy Star label -- a federal designation that means the product uses less energy than its counterpart. Energy Star product categories include dishwashers, refrigerators, central air conditioning, ceiling fans, programmable thermostats, light fixtures and bulbs, home electronics and office equipment.
Finally, don't make hasty decisions. Do plenty of research and think about the future of the house. For example, if you know you'll be selling five years down the road, choose products that have universal appeal -- don't choose the red appliances or the blue carpet. Go with materials that are durable, have a good reputation and are timeless.