One of the best parts of being a homeowner is making your home your own. From paint colors to landscaping choices and everything in between, even small upgrades can turn any home into your dream home. But how can you make sure that you’re prepared for your next home improvement project? Here are some of the best things you can do before, during, and after your project to set yourself up for success.

Get your projects approved

Making a major change to the outside of your home? Then you’ll want to double check with your HOA to see if you need their approval before starting. Most major home improvements require HOA approval, including:

  • Exterior paint
  • Roof replacements
  • Landscaping

Changes like these can affect home values and community aesthetics, making it necessary to have them approved through your HOA’s Architectural Control Committee (ACC), Design Review Committee, Environmental Control Committee, or Architectural Review Committee.

Check with your HOA to find the proper paperwork and processes for your project. Usually it entails your plans for your home, including pictures, surveys, permits, and/or materials being used, along with a timeline estimate.

Tip: If you think you’ll save time by skipping this step, think again. If the HOA realizes that an ongoing project should have been submitted to them but was not, they may order you to stop the project, and may even have legal recourse against you. The best way to get your project done right and quickly is to stay in line with the requirements of your HOA.

Keep respectful construction hours

Many communities have “quiet hours” that require homeowners and their guests to keep the noise down during a certain time of night (for example, between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.). This is for the benefit of everyone in the community. Please make sure that if your project involves heavy or loud construction, you are not having the work done during these quiet hours.

Additionally, even if your community does not have specific quiet hours, it’s considered best neighborly practice to only allow the noisy work to be done during the day. Use common sense, be a good neighbor, and you’ll keep everyone in your community happy.

Use bulk trash pickup when available

Home improvement projects often generate a lot of trash, including large boxes and excess materials.

Use community services like bulk trash pickup to conveniently get rid of large trash items. Check with your HOA or city’s waste management services to find dates for this service. You should also check to see what items are excluded from pickup (these often include large trees/plants, large amounts of glass, and certain home appliances).

In the meantime, keep debris out of common areas (like the street) as much as possible, in order to keep your community looking clean and to avoid any possible fines from your HOA.

Use licensed and insured contractors

You want to have a pleasant home improvement experience, which means a fair price, a reasonable timeline, and the work done to your satisfaction. You are most likely to check all three boxes when you use licensed, insured, and experienced contractors. Get a few quotes before starting your project to ensure you are treated fairly.

Tip: Talk to your neighbors about the contractors they have used for similar projects. Their experiences often speak volumes!

Expect the unexpected

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can control when it comes to a home improvement project, and you should plan on being flexible. Set aside a little more money to cover surprise expenses; don’t set your schedule in stone in case the project runs a little long; and be prepared for last minute tweaks.

And be sure to perform quality control along the way! If something doesn’t look right, or you don’t like the way something turned out, speak up and have it fixed sooner rather than later. Remember that the end goal is a home that you truly love; if you keep the vision in mind, you’ll stay excited and motivated the whole time.

Related: Why Are My HOA Fees So High? Inflation’s Impact on Your HOA Assessment

Home improvement projects don’t have to be a hassle. By following these best practices and working with your HOA, you can give yourself a better experience from start to finish. After all, you deserve the home of your dreams!