5 Golden Rules of Renovation

Want to have that Midas touch? Learn these home truths.

Be Patient
We get it: You've just moved in, and you're itching to change everything you see. After all, that canary-yellow kitchen and salmon-colored bathroom sink are reminders that there was life in this house before you. But if you take just a little bit of time to get used to your surroundings, you might find them more to your liking.

Get Down with DIY
Many jobs sound tricky enough to involve a professional, but you can save hundreds by doing the work yourself. Not so sure? Find step-by-step how-tos on sites like HGTV.com and DIYNetwork.com, or go to YouTube and type in "askthebuilder" for simple instructional videos. Some retailers, like The Home Depot, even offer free classes.

Know Your Limits
All we're saying is think about it. Taking on a project yourself doesn't always cut costs—in fact it can have the opposite effect if you royally screw something up. Don't attempt a job that requires tools you don't have or can't affordably rent or buy: This can be more expensive than hiring a professional.

Keep an Eye on the Joneses
Your home's value is determined, in large part, by what's around it. For resale purposes, you want what the neighbors have, only slightly better. For example, an updated kitchen when others in the vicinity are relics from the early '80s? That's money in the bank (literally) down the road.

Avoid Over-Personalizing
If you're on a five-year (or so) plan, splurging shouldn't be a word in your vocabulary. No, no, no, we're not telling you to toss all of your grandiose home improvement dreams out the window. Just be patient. The best advice: Save those big ideas for the house you plan to retire in and then, by all means, don't hold back.